Pregnancy is the blooming phase of a woman’s life that can change her entire world. One needs to be strong mentally and physically to enjoy it thoroughly. Many complications, however, can arise while trying to conceive. The most common which hinders the process of pregnancy is hypothyroidism. Getting pregnant with hypothyroidism is a challenge as this thyroid hormone is important for regulating the metabolism in the body, and in cases where its production is low, it can cause issues. The thyroid gland is important for carrying out all vital functions of the body.
Let us know have a better insight into this condition and a few other topics associated with it.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
It is important to understand the process of hypothyroidism and the odds of getting pregnant with hypothyroidism. This condition refers to a state where the thyroid hormone is not produced in the required quantity, it is either low (hypothyroidism) or excess which is (hyperthyroidism). Both the situations are not suitable for the woman and pose different issues. Today we are only going to study hypothyroidism.
About 1 in 10 women are known to suffer from hypothyroidism1. This condition is not characterized by symptoms that might get noticed, however, if not treated on time, it does result in many health issues. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism depend on how severe its deficiency is in the woman’s body. The health issues only start developing gradually over years.
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Initially, the common signs of hypothyroidism are weight gain and fatigue which are not easy to identify as many other health issues and age can contribute to the same. As the metabolism rate starts slowing down, major issues can start showing and some of them are2:
- Dry Skin
- Difficulty concentrating or memory problems
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Weakness of muscles
- Puffiness on face
- Increased blood cholesterol levels
- Muscle aches, tender or stiff
- Irregular or excess periods
- Thinning of hair
- Swelling, pain, or stiffness in joints
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Slow heart rate
All these problems arise due to improper functioning of the thyroid gland yet some other causes are attributed to it as well. According to a source, they are:
- Deficiency of Iodine which is crucial
- Infection in the thyroid gland
- Stress and activation of cortisol hormone that interfere with the production of thyroid hormone
- Hashimoto’s disease can inflame the thyroid gland thus affecting the production of the thyroid hormone
- Surgical removal of the thyroid gland while treating goitre or thyroid cancer
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The Link Between Hypothyroidism And Pregnancy
The thyroid hormone needs to function properly as it is crucial for normal fetal development in the first trimester. Else there could be problems getting pregnant with hypothyroidism.
Since hormones levels can be produced either in excess or less quantity, it is vital to keep monitoring the thyroid levels pre and post-pregnancy. The thyroid hormone helps to regulate the metabolism, weight, body temperature, heart, nervous system, and many other processes as well.
Let us now understand what the link is between the two, hypothyroidism and pregnancy. The production of the thyroid hormone in excess or lesser quantity is not good for the woman and needs treatment. The development of the brain and the nervous system of the fetus is dependent on the thyroid hormones which are delivered by the placenta.
The two hormones related to pregnancy are HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin and estrogen and they can also be attributed to increasing thyroid levels. This can also make it difficult for it to be diagnosed. In case the woman has a thyroid before conceiving, more medical attention is needed. The symptoms of pregnancy can be similar to the ones during hypothyroidism so in case one experiences weight loss, persistent nausea, or palpations, then medical help should be given immediately.
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If the thyroid diseases are left untreated it could be fatal for the mother and the baby. Some results of not treating the thyroid diseases in pregnancy can lead to3:
- Premature birth
- Increase in blood pressure
- Low birth weight
The common cause of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune disorder also referred to as “Hashimoto’s thyroiditis”. Here, the body by mistake attacks the cell in the thyroid gland due to which the thyroid glands do not have enough cells or enzymes to produce the required thyroid hormone needed by the body
Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy- Diagnose
Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can be diagnosed as per the physical exam, blood tests to measure the thyroid levels, thyroid hormones T4, etc. Many accurate tests are available for diagnosing hypothyroidism and its treatment is a safe, simple, and effective one once the right dose can be determined. Hypothyroidism makes it difficult to conceive as women cannot ovulate regularly and its essential to know signs of ovulation to know your most fertile time to get pregnant.
Hypothyroidism can be treated with a man-made hormone called levothyroxine that is much similar to the T4 hormone produced by the thyroid. Once the woman is pregnant, the doctor will adjust the dose of the hormone and keep monitoring the levels by tests every 4 to 6 weeks.
It is also vital to inform the doctor as soon as the woman gets pregnant so the man-made hormone dosage can be increased for accommodating the thyroid hormone replacement at the time of pregnancy. This happens as calcium and iron can obstruct the absorption of thyroid hormones in the body. It is also mandatory to know that prenatal vitamins should not be taken within 3-4 hours of taking the man-made hormone also known as levothyroxine4.
What Should Be My Thyroid Levels Be To Get Pregnant?
Blood tests are the ideal way to assess thyroid levels. As per medical experts, 4.2 is the upper limit for TSH but few recent studies suggest that TSH should not be higher than 2.5 when trying to get pregnant or 3.0 when one is pregnant. The TSH levels in the first trimester of pregnancy are between 0.2-<2.5mU/L and between 0.3- 3mU/L in the other trimesters.
Related Reading: Fertility Tests To Take Before Trying To Get Pregnant
What Are The Chances Of Getting Pregnant With Hypothyroidism?
Low levels of thyroid or hypothyroidism can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle that can make ovulation hard to track and in some exceptional cases, women do not ovulate at all. It is thus important to know the chances of getting pregnant with hypothyroidism or getting pregnant with hypothyroidism along with irregular periods.
Hypothyroidism can even interfere with releasing the egg from the ovary. So, there are chances of getting pregnant with proper medication and monitoring. Hypothyroidism can be treated easily once the thyroid levels are back to the normal range, one can conceive. The treatment involves taking synthetic thyroid hormone in pill form5.
13 Tips To Get Pregnant With Hypothyroidism
It is clear that it is tough to conceive with hypothyroidism but there are a few tips for getting pregnant with hypothyroidism and some of them are given as below:
1. Balanced diet
Having a balanced diet comprising of beans, lean proteins, fruits, whole grains, and vegetables offers an adequate amount of iodine which is crucial for the function of the thyroid.
Related Reading: 7 Best Foods To Increase Fertility
2. Fibre intake should be monitored
Hormone absorption can get affected by fiber and excess fiber intake may hinder the body to get the required hormones. Fiber although is important for the body yet medicines should not be taken within a few hours of consuming high fiber foods.
3. Monitoring the soy intake
Intake of soy can obstruct the absorption of thyroid hormones and eating soy or drinking too many soy products, the medicines might not get absorbed properly. Soy can be found in soya sauce, soybean, soymilk, vegan cheese, tofu, and meat products6.
Related Reading: Soy Milk During Pregnancy – Benefits, Risks And Precautions
4. Do not take thyroid medicines with other supplements
The time to take thyroid medicines and supplements should be different so that they do not interfere with absorption. Thyroid medication should always be taken on an empty stomach and not with other medicines or supplements.
5. Monitor other health issues
Since autoimmune diseases and hypothyroidism are linked, it is important to keep monitoring with conditions like7:
- Celiac disease
- Pituitary issues
- RA or rheumatoid arthritis
- Adrenal gland disorders
6. Deal with fatigue
Even after taking medicines, the woman can feel fatigued. To fight the low-energy levels, there must be no stress, and the woman has a balanced diet.
7. Meditation and yoga
It is important that the woman keeps herself free of stress and is relaxed as stress can obstruct the chances of conceiving. It is ideal to do yoga and meditate to have a relaxed body, soul, and mind.
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8. Get enough iodine
It is important to take the prenatal vitamins daily which are 150-250mcg of iodate and potassium iodide daily to be able to conceive with hypothyroidism8.
9. Keep a check on the TSH levels
The hormone made in the pituitary gland indicates the amount of T4 and T3 made. A high TSH indicates hypothyroidism and can hinder the woman from conceiving so it is important to get the tests and check the thyroid levels9.
10. Never stop the thyroid medication without consulting the doctor
While trying to conceive it is not advisable to stop the thyroid medication. Medicine for hypothyroidism does less harm to the developing fetus. Moreover, optimal thyroid level is important for the healthy progression of pregnancy and development of the fetus.
11. Treating the thyroid disorder
If adequate thyroid hormone is not produced, the functioning of the organs and the metabolism get affected, so it is important to get oneself treatment for increasing the chances of conceiving10.
12. Monitor the weight
Being overweight and underweight can also rule out the chances of the woman conceiving, so it is important to consult with the doctor and find out the correct weight range and work towards it. Exercise during pregnancy helps in managing weight and improves energy levels as well.
Related Reading: 11 Foods That Should Be Avoided When Trying To Conceive
13. Avoid smoking
Cigarette smoking tends to change the hormones in a body thus hindering the thyroid function as well, obstructing the process of conceiving so it is not advisable to smoke while trying to conceive when one has hypothyroidism11.
Thus, hypothyroidism is a condition that can happen at any time in the life of a woman. It is difficult to conceive if one has been diagnosed with the same, so it is advisable to control or get it treated. It needs baby steps and can be managed with proper medicines, lifestyle changes, destressing oneself, and taking required supplements.
If diagnosed with hypothyroidism, one should know that it does lead to miscarriages, so it is advisable to recognize its symptoms and get it treated on time.
If diagnosed with hypothyroidism, the experts recommend that if the treatment is done with thyroid hormone replacement and a balanced diet, with supplements, is followed well.
Celery juice tends to boost hydration levels and reduce chronic inflammation, both of them are good for managing the thyroid.