January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and the perfect time to educate yourself about the thyroid, a part of your endocrine system responsible for skin integrity, menstrual cycles, and more. According to the American Thyroid Association, roughly 60% of those with thyroid disorders are unaware they suffer from any condition at all. This month, we’re highlighting a few facts about thyroid conditions and how they can affect your overall health, including answering the question: does your thyroid affect fertility?

The Connection Between Your Thyroid And Fertility

Because your thyroid secretes metabolic hormones, thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause infertility by affecting a woman’s ovulation. At Carolina Infertility Institute, we want to raise awareness this January for Thyroid Awareness Month. Continue reading to learn more about how thyroid disorders can affect fertility.

What Is The Thyroid?

The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland, is responsible for keeping the heart, brain, muscles, and organs working properly. Thyroid disorders can be caused by an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease), medications, or radiation therapy treatment for cancer. You may also develop a thyroid disorder if you have a family history of thyroid diseases. So, you may be asking yourself, what is the connection between thyroid disorders and fertility?

Hyperthyroidism And Fertility

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in your neck that makes two hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream— thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much hormone thyroxine. When this occurs, many of the body’s functions speed up. When someone is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, too much thyroid hormone is produced, which can impact fertility in the following ways:

  • Disruption of the menstrual cycle
  • Increased risk of early-term miscarriage
  • Increased risk for premature birth
  • Interference with ovulation

Although getting pregnant with hyperthyroidism is possible, in some cases, it can make conception challenging. One study found that 2.3 percent of women with fertility problems had an overactive thyroid, compared with 1.5 percent of those in the general public. Moreover, hyperthyroidism can interfere with ovulation, making it difficult to plan to have sex during the time you are ovulating.

Hypothyroidism And Fertility

On the opposite end of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones, and your body’s functions slow down. NIH suggests roughly 5 out of 100 Americans ages 12 years or older have hypothyroidism. When someone is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, too little thyroid hormone is produced, which can impact fertility in the following ways:

  • Disruption of the menstrual cycle
  • Increased risk for miscarriage due to interference with embryo
  • Increased risk for premature birth
  • Interference with ovulation

Similar to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism can interfere with ovulation making it difficult for women to get pregnant. However, don’t get discouraged— if you are diagnosed with one of these disorders, a full-term, healthy pregnancy is possible!

Treatment For Thyroid Disorders

The American Thyroid Association states that all thyroid diseases can be “treated,” resulting in normal thyroid functions. However, most thyroid disorders cannot be “cured” due to most conditions requiring medication to maintain a normal thyroid state. For high levels of thyroid hormones, treatments can include

  • Antithyroid drugs
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Beta-blockers
  • Surgery

For low levels of thyroid hormones, the primary treatment option is thyroid replacement medication. This medication is man-made and identical to the hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland.

If you are experiencing symptoms of thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it is important to contact a medical professional. Carolinas Fertility Institute is here to help you learn more about thyroid disorders and how they can affect infertility. Check out our website or call us at (336) 448-9100 to make an appointment in the Triad or (844) 686-2233 for our Charlotte office.