Hypothyroidism and Infertility

Submitted by Kate Seldman Thu 04/14/2011

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, could it affect your fertility? Doctors say yes. Hypothyroidism, say some doctors, is one of the most overlooked causes of infertility. When you have low levels of thyroid hormone, it can affect ovulation and hinder your ability to conceive. If there’s an additional condition causing the hypothyroidism – a pituitary disorder or an autoimmune disease – this, too, can inhibit fertility. Low thyroid activity can also affect a man’s fertility: his sperm count can decrease, or his sperm may not live as long as they should. This will cut the chances that his sperm will reach your egg and fertilize it. If you’re having trouble conceiving, your doctor will likely check your thyroid levels on your first visit, especially if you have irregular periods. Hypothyroidism can cause you to have a short luteal phase, which means there’s too little time between ovulation and menstruation for an egg to implant properly. The egg will begin implanting, but the uterine lining will begin shedding and cause a miscarriage. If you suffer from any of these symptoms and are also having problems conceiving, you may want to test for low thyroid function: fatigue; weight gain or inability to lose weight; foggy-headedness; joint pain; the outer third of your eyebrows are thin or missing; constipation; extreme sensitivity to cold; dry or pale skin; irritability and depression; or lowered sex drive. If your infertility involves miscarriages, then you should visit a reproductive endocrinologist to talk about special medications, since regular hypothyroid treatment may not be sufficient for you to get and stay pregnant. Some natural practitioners advocate self-treating thyroid issues with iodine supplements, especially if traditional doctors have deemed your thyroid problem not severe enough to treat with conventional medication. They suggest taking 50mg of iodine a day for three months in order for it to reach a therapeutic concentration within the body.

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