Your Thyroid Health Affects Your Fertility!
March 4, 2020 | Bonné
Top Things to Know:
- The thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism, overall health and reproductive system.
- Any thyroid function conditions can significantly affect women’s fertility, ovaries, and menstrual cycle.
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism and PCOS are similar, but they are different conditions.
- Many women with PCOS also have hypothyroidism.
- Thyroid hormones test is part of a fertility test.
One factor that plays a significant role in women’s reproductive system, yet often overlooked, is thyroid health – which of course affects fertility. While the female sex hormones are largely responsible for maintaining the menstrual cycle, thyroid hormones take care of overall health.
Thyroid and fertility: Where’s the link?
Thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, and in maintaining overall health. Whenever there is an imbalance of the thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4), our body undergoes weight and mood changes – which are symptoms that, you know, also disturb menstrual cycle and further affect fertility.
The relation between women’s thyroid function and their reproductive system is placed high up in the brain. The hypothalamus in the brain sends signals to the pituitary gland to instruct reproductive organs and glands to release their hormones, the same pathway that instructs thyroid gland to release its hormones. If there is any struggle during this process, clearly there will be a domino effect to women’s reproductive system.
Here are some thyroid conditions that affect women’s fertility:
- Hypothyroidism: About 2-4% of women suffer from hypothyroidism, which is characterized by an under-active thyroid, resulting in low levels of thyroid hormones. This condition can cause weight gain, hair thinning, constipation, fatigue, heavy menstrual bleeding, and reduce metabolic activities.
- Hyperthyroidism: This condition is characterized by an overactive thyroid gland and affects about 5% of women. It can cause weight loss, increased appetite, over-anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, lighter and shorter periods, and increased sweating.
Dysfunctional thyroid conditions can disrupt a normal menstrual cycle and even affect the flow during periods. Hypothyroidism can cause irregular menstrual cycles and make it difficult for women to conceive. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism prevent ovulation. So, when no egg is released, there is no way women can get pregnant!
Hypothyroidism also causes cysts in the ovaries, which can interrupt the regular functioning of the ovaries. This can also cause an increase in hormone prolactin in women who are not pregnant, and also prevents ovulation.
Not only do thyroid health affects women’s fertility, they also increase risk of miscarriage and affect the mental development of fetus if it is not in balance.
At this point, you might realize that thyroid symptoms are very similar to those of PCOS, let’s find out how they are different.
Thyroid and PCOS: Similar in symptoms but not the same condition!
There is a close link between thyroid disorders and PCOS. They share many similarities in symptoms such as irregular periods and cycles, excessive bleeding during periods, but they are different conditions. Although many women with PCOS tend to also develop hypothyroidism.
Time to get fertility (including thyroid) tested!
If you are finding it difficult to conceive, it may be a clear sign that there is an underlying health issue that needs to be resolved. If you wish to get a fertility profile testing done, it may be a good idea to also test for your thyroid levels along with the usual reproductive hormones.
Keeping in mind the strong influence of thyroid hormones on a woman’s overall health and her reproductive health, Yesmom’s fertility test allows testing of not just the reproductive hormones, but also thyroid hormones to give a clearer and more accurate picture of what could be a sign of health issues and infertility.
 Dr. Avinash Phadke, Why are women more prone to thyroid problems?, Business World, Available at http://www.businessworld.in/article/Why-Are-Women-More-Prone-To-Thyroid-Problems/25-05-2017-118863/, Published on 25th May 2017
Angela Grassi, 5 things women with PCOS should know about hypothyroid, Verywell Health, Available at:https://www.verywellhealth.com/things-women-with-pcos-should-know-about-hypothyroid-2616656, Published on November 17, 2019
Diana Rodriguez, Thyroid issues and fertility: what to know?, Everyday Health, Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/thyroid-conditions/thyroid-issues-and-fertility.aspx, Published on 21st February 2013
Sarah DuRivage Jacobs, Reviewed by Dr Eva Marie Luo, The connection between your thyroid and fertility, ModernFertility.com, Available at: https://modernfertility.com/blog/thyroid/