Hypothyroidism & Fertility
- Published on August 12, 2022
The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate vital functions in your body. It is an important gland because it controls your metabolism. If the thyroid gland is not working properly, it may affect your metabolism and functioning of your body.
So then you might wonder, what is thyroid?
Colloquially we call diseases due to abnormal thyroid gland functioning as thyroid. So, when your thyroid gland is underactive, your body makes too little thyroid hormone. This condition is called hypothyroidism. When your thyroid gland is overactive, your body makes too much thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism.
Issues in the functioning of the thyroid gland can also lead to goitre (an enlarged thyroid) or thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of thyroid
Thyroid symptoms differ based on whether you have high levels of thyroid hormones or low levels of thyroid hormones. Thyroid symptoms in the female body may also differ from thyroid symptoms in the male body.
However, in general, the symptoms experienced for each thyroid condition are as follows:
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This makes your metabolism slow down.
Thyroid symptoms in cases of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue, weakness, lethargy
- Dry or flaky skin
- Sensitivity to cold
- Weakness in the muscles
- Pain in the joints and muscles
- Irregular periods
- Slow heart rate
- Goitre (enlarged thyroid gland)
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) happens when your thyroid produces more thyroid hormones than your body needs. This makes the metabolism work faster than normal.
Thyroid symptoms in cases of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Rapid or irregular heart rate, racing heart
- Abnormal increase in appetite
- Nervousness, anxiousness, irritability
- Tremors are usually in the hands and fingers
- Unusual sweating
- Frequent passing of stools
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
- Fine, thin hair
- Trouble with sleep or restlessness and disturbed sleep
Thyroid symptoms also occur if you have a goitre or thyroid cancer.
Goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland. The size of the goitre can vary from small to large. Goitres are usually painless. However, if you have thyroiditis, the inflammation can make it painful.
The thyroid symptoms for goitre include:
- A lump on your neck, around the throat area
- A tightness in your throat
- Hoarse voice
- Swelling of the veins in the neck
The most visible symptoms of thyroid cancer are thyroid nodules. These are lumps or growths that develop on your neck.
Other signs of thyroid cancer include:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Loss of voice or hoarse voice
- Presence of swollen lymph nodes around the neck area
Causes of thyroid
What causes thyroid? The causes of thyroid differ based on whether it is hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid causes in this case include:
- An autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s disease
- Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)
- Insufficient amounts of iodine in the body
- An under-functioning thyroid gland is a birth condition
- Over-response to hyperthyroidism
- Removal of the thyroid gland
- Radiation therapy to treat cancer
- High cholesterol
Thyroid causes in this case include:
- Grave’s disease – an autoimmune condition
- Thyroid nodules (unusual growths on the thyroid gland)
- Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)
- Excess iodine
- Malfunctioning pituitary gland or cancerous growth in the thyroid gland
Diagnosis of thyroid
If you experience thyroid symptoms, it is advised to get it checked by a medical professional at the soonest.
If your symptoms indicate hypothyroidism, your doctor may advise a blood test to measure the levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in your body.
That leads to the question, what is TSH in a blood test? TSH refers to thyroid stimulating hormone and if a TSH test shows high TSH levels symptoms, it means that your thyroid is underactive. The reason is that the pituitary gland produces excess TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland if it is underactive.
The test will also usually check the levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. Low levels of thyroxine mean that your thyroid gland is underactive and is not producing enough thyroid hormones.
If your thyroid symptoms indicate hyperthyroidism, your doctor will advise you to get a blood test to check TSH and thyroxine. Low or nil levels of TSH indicate an overactive thyroid.
What is a normal TSH level?
TSH levels vary based on age and whether you are pregnant. The normal TSH range is between 0.4 – 4.0 milliunits per litre.
Treatment of thyroid
Thyroid treatment involves treating the levels of thyroid hormones in the body to bring them up or down based on the condition. Treatment may also target the underlying thyroid causes.
The treatment for hypothyroidism usually involves thyroid medication to increase the level of thyroid hormones in your body. This medication is a synthetic thyroid hormone that is taken orally. It restores normal hormone levels.
Thyroid treatment will bring about a change in your symptoms over time.
The treatment for hyperthyroidism usually involves:
- Anti-thyroid medications
These inhibit the thyroid gland from producing thyroid hormones.
- Radioactive iodine
This thyroid treatment makes the thyroid gland shrink and reduces the production of thyroid hormone.
These are medications that don’t target the thyroid hormone levels but help manage the symptoms.
The thyroid gland is removed through surgery to stop the excess production of hormones. However, you will have to take thyroid treatment medications after that to keep up your thyroid levels.
Thyroid symptoms can affect important body functions such as metabolism, heart rate, breathing, digestion, development, mental activity, skin and bones, and body temperature. Thyroid symptoms may also affect your reproductive processes and fertility, particularly for women.
If you have thyroid issues, you may also need to get fertility tests done, especially if you are facing issues with conceiving. To get the best fertility testing and treatment for your needs, visit Birla Fertility and IVF or book an appointment with Dr. Vinita Das.
1. What are the symptoms of female thyroid?
Certain symptoms of thyroid are specifically experienced by women. These symptoms of thyroid in women relate to puberty and reproductive processes.
Thyroid symptoms in the female body include the following:
- Delayed or early onset of puberty and menstruation
- Very light or heavy periods, irregular periods, or missed periods
- Lack of ovulation
- Formation of cysts in the ovary
- Postpartum thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid gland after giving birth
- Early onset of menopause
2. How does your body feel when you have thyroid problems?
When you have thyroid symptoms, your body may feel weak, fatigued, achy, and extra sensitive to cold or heat. Your heart rate or pulse may be rapid or slower than normal.
3. Can thyroid be cured completely?
The underlying thyroid causes may not be cured. However, treatment can help restore the thyroid function to normal so that your body produces normal amounts of thyroid hormones. In most cases, you will need to continue to monitor your thyroid and take thyroid treatment medications.
4. Can thyroid be cured without treatment?
Usually, thyroid cannot be cured without treatment because the cause of the thyroid issue may not resolve on its own. Thyroid symptoms and cure depend on the kind of thyroid issues you are facing.
However, certain thyroid disorders like postpartum thyroiditis and subacute thyroiditis (possibly caused by a virus) tend to resolve independently after running their course. Still, in certain cases, even these thyroid disorders can lead to lasting issues in thyroid functioning.
Dr (Prof) Vinita Das
Dr. Vinita Das is a renowned name in the ﬁeld of reproductive health. She is a Former Dean & HOD ObGyn KG Medical University, Lucknow, She has extensive international experience and has visited Infertility Units at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Liverpool women’s Hospital, Bristol University, in UK in an exchange program. She introduced IVF in the state of UP by creating the ﬁrst IVF facility in public sector at an aﬀordable cost
Over 40 years of experience
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Fertility TreatmentsProblems with fertility are both emotionally and medically challenging. At Birla Fertility & IVF, we focus on providing you with supportive, personalized care at every step of your journey towards becoming a parent.
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