Hypothyroidism & its Impact on Fertility
by Nikki Warren on Jul 17, 2023
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is ‘underactive’ and produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone.
TSH is produced by your brain to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce T4. T4 is produced by the thyroid gland and is the precursor to T3. T3 is produced in peripheral tissue from converting T4 and is the ‘active’ form of your thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight
- Brain fog, poor concentration, or poor memory
- Joint and muscle aches/pain
- Trouble tolerating cold temperatures
- Dry skin, dry/thinning hair or hair loss
- Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
- Infertility and miscarriages
- Slow heart rate
- Depression or low moods
If you are worried that you experience many of these symptoms, you may do some thyroid testing.
Your doctor may agree to test your TSH levels. However, testing for only TSH, does not test for all thyroid markers. Many patients will have a completely within range ‘normal’ TSH but have abnormal thyroid antibodies or low T3 and T4.
You may be unable to get your T3, T4, TSH and thyroid antibodies through your doctor. Your naturopath can organise a lab form for you to pay for it privately.
If you do have hypothyroidism or suboptimal thyroid function, this can be a problem for many reasons. Hypothyroidism can lead to complications and also increase the risk of other diseases. Hypothyroidism can increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and in severe cases, myxoedema coma (needs emergency medical attention).
Hypothyroidism can impact your fertility in many ways. Hypothyroidism can impact healthy ovulation and lead to irregular menstrual cycles.
If you don’t ovulate, the egg will not be able to be released from the ovary. If the egg isn't released, then it cannot be fertilised by sperm. Unmanaged hypothyroidism during pregnancy can cause many complications.
Hypothyroidism during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriages, stillbirths and premature deliveries. Hypothyroidism of the mother during pregnancy can affect babies’ health and development. These babies may have an increased risk of lower IQ, learning abilities and nervous system health.
It is good to know that there are things you can do naturally to help manage your hypothyroidism. Some tips on how to help manage your hypothyroidism are discussed below.
It is recommended that you start by addressing your stress. High cortisol levels from chronic stress and poor sleep can contribute to further disruption of the thyroid gland. Stress can make hypothyroidism worse.
You can support stress reduction through seeking more support from a psychologist. Lifestyle habits such as practicing mindfulness and journaling about your stressors may help. It is important for you to brainstorm any other solutions to manage your unique stressors.
Taking herbs that lower cortisol levels can also be very helpful in managing your stress levels. Herbs such as withania found in our Stress & Sleep PM Formula can be helpful to reduce stress.
Addressing any nutrient deficiencies that worsen hypothyroidism is also important. This is especially important when preparing for a baby in preconception preparation. Making sure you are on a high-quality preconception multivitamin is important. This may help minimise the impacts hypothyroidism may have on your fertility.
Our Preconception Multi For Women contains zinc, iodine and selenium which are important nutrients for thyroid hormone production and function. If these nutrients are deficient, this can lower thyroid function.
Managing weight gain and obesity from hypothyroidism can be quite difficult. To help you maintain a healthy weight, dietary and lifestyle changes are important. Dietary changes that include balanced portion sizes and increasing your intake of fibre and wholefoods is beneficial.
Reducing processed foods, refined sugars and alcohol are crucial for an optimal weight. Lifestyle measures including no smoking, vaping and reducing chemical exposure are important to reduce inflammation. Lifestyle behaviours such as regular exercise and stress reduction can also help optimise metabolic health and weight.
Taking specific herbs such as gymnema and bladderwrack can be beneficial in combatting weight gain associated with hypothyroidism. These herbs are in our Metabolism & Thermogenic AM Formula. This formula was created to help reduce sugar cravings, support metabolism and thermogenesis.
These herbs help to assist weight loss alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle. In hypothyroidism, metabolism is low. Meaning that thermogenesis is low and this can lead to slower metabolism of kilojoules and weight gain.
Hypothyroidism has various symptoms for different people. If you are concerned you may be suffering from symptoms of hypothyroidism, it is best to do full thyroid testing. You can do this through your GP or naturopath. This is important to do before you consider treatment as it needs to be diagnosed first.
Hypothyroidism can significantly impact fertility in many women, therefore if you struggle with falling pregnant, seek advice from your healthcare professional. If you do have diagnosed hypothyroidism, the good news is that there are many things you can do to support your thyroid function. Alongside dietary and lifestyle changes. Our products can be of great benefit for helping you manage your thyroid function and support healthy thyroid hormones.
*Always read the label and follow directions for use.
Koyyada, A., & Orsu, P. (2020). Role of hypothyroidism and associated pathways in pregnancy and infertility: Clinical insights. Tzu chi medical journal, 32(4), 312–317. https://doi.org/10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_255_19
Verma, I., Sood, R., Juneja, S., & Kaur, S. (2012). Prevalence of hypothyroidism in infertile women and evaluation of response of treatment for hypothyroidism on infertility. International journal of applied & basic medical research, 2(1), 17–19. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-516X.96795
Sanyal, D., & Raychaudhuri, M. (2016). Hypothyroidism and obesity: An intriguing link. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 20(4), 554–557. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.183454
Sarkar D. (2012). Recurrent pregnancy loss in patients with thyroid dysfunction. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 16(Suppl 2), S350–S351. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.10408