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Thyroid and Fertility

How does your Thyroid affect Fertility?

The thyroid is a vital facet of fertility, successful pregnancy, and a healthy baby. Sadly there are still many ‘gaps’ in knowledge regarding the contribution of thyroid dysfunction in reproduction. (1)

Subclinical hypothyroidism may be associated with menstrual disturbances, ovulatory dysfunction, and adverse pregnancy outcome. Thyroid autoimmunity increases the miscarriage rate, and thyroxine treatment does not seem to protect. In males, hypothyroidism has a significant but reversible effect on sperm motility.

Thyroid health regulates the speed and cellular functions within the body, including healthy conception and gestation. Pregnancy has a profound impact on the thyroid gland of the mother and the thyroid may encounter changes to hormones and gland size during pregnancy.

What thyroid issues can contribute to infertility?
There are many factors that contribute to infertility and often there are many overlapping. Some factors that are often not assessed thoroughly to consider are:

  • HypothyroidismThis study showed that women with TSH in the high end of the normal range had significantly more ‘unexplained’ fertility issues than those whose TSH was closer to the normal range.
  • Hyperthyroidism – This study showed that men with hyperthyroidism had reduced semen volume and reduced sperm density, motility, and morphology, whereas men with hypothyroidism had reduced sperm morphology.
  • Nutrient deficiency – there are many different nutrients needed to conceive and bear a healthy baby. This should be addressed three months before conception – see below. Some patients need above the RDI of dietary nutrients such as Vitamin D3, iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, and iodine. Certain genetic mutations may require specialist vitamin therapy, such as people with the MTHFR gene mutation.
  • Ovulation disorders – such as PCOS, or hyperprolactinemia Other underlying causes may include too much exercise, eating disorders, or tumors. These affect the release of the eggs from the ovaries.

*Information supplied is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. Refer to your medical professional.

Increasing demands from a developing baby can cause new-onset or worsening hypothyroidism for the pregnant woman. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus is completely dependent on the mother for the supply of thyroid hormone. At 10 to 12 weeks, the baby’s thyroid gland begins to produce thyroid hormone on its own. The baby, however, remains dependent on the mother for the supply of iodine, which is an essential nutrient that makes thyroid hormones plus is responsible for optimal brain development, and studies have proven iodine taken by the pregnant mother improves the child’s IQ score later in life.

5 – 10 % of women will develop inflammation of the thyroid gland – called postpartum thyroiditis – within the first year of childbirth which can cause hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism. This may last for a year, but some women report never going back to their pre-pregnancy self.

 

Preconception Care

Did you know that a woman’s eggs take about 100 days to mature for release and the formation of sperm takes approximately 116 days?

Both are susceptible to damage and oxidation during this time, which is why preconception care should begin at least 3 months prior to conception.
Medical treatment of hormone imbalances needs to be done sooner than this prior to conception so that the egg and sperm of any successful pregnancy are fully developed and in the healthiest state possible. A qualified practitioner can help build a personalised preconception program for you and your partner to guide you along. This may include:

  • Detoxification prior to preconception care, to reduce risk and maximize fertility.
  • Individualized eating plans pre and post-conception
  • Nutritional supplementation to maximize fertility
  • Education on charting ovulation
  • Advice on the timing of conception
  • Nutritional and Hormonal screening and testing
  • Treatment support for fertility issues and hormonal imbalance if required, prior to conception
  • Gestational management of digestion, blood sugar levels, and immunity
  • Preparation for healthy birth and support for personalised natural therapies

Some women have a thyroid disorder that may begin before or during pregnancy or soon after delivery. Thyroid disorders during pregnancy may affect both mother and baby, but with proper treatment, most women with thyroid disorders can have a healthy baby. Thyroid hormone is essential for the normal development of the fetal brain and nervous system.

 

Treatments

Natural Treatment

Complementary therapies to support healthy pregnancy include healthy fats supplementation to support the baby’s neural development, immunity, and cognitive function.

Probiotics are highly recommended and well researched for their role in supporting healthy babies whilst also supporting the mothers immune system.

Some patients need above the RDI of dietary nutrients such as Vitamin D3, iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, and iodine. Certain genetic mutations may require specialist vitamin therapy, such as people with the MTHFR gene mutation.

Herbal medicine offers great treatment options not only to prepare for conception and a women’s menstrual cycle, but also to manage pregnancy symptoms if needed, and prepare for a healthy birth in the third trimester. Pregnancy-safe natural medicine options are needed for sicknesses such as cold and flu since most over-the-counter drugs are contraindicated in pregnancy.

Diet

During pregnancy, there are certain foods and beverages that you should avoid as they may be harmful to your baby.

Listeria and toxoplasmosis are uncommon infections that can be passed onto your unborn baby.

To reduce your risk of listeria:

  • Wash your hands before preparing food.
  • Ensure chopping boards and cooking utensils are clean when preparing food.
  • Wash vegetables and fruit before eating.
  • Avoid cold sliced meats, e.g. ham and salami, cold cooked chicken, pate, uncooked seafood, soft-serve ice-cream, pre-prepared salads, and cheeses such as brie, camembert, feta, and ricotta.

Listeria is killed by cooking, so make sure that when you reheat food, it is very hot.

To reduce your risk of toxoplasmosis:

  • cook meat thoroughly
  • wash vegetables
  • wear disposable gloves if handling cat litter or gardening
  • wash your hands after gardening or touching pets.

Ask your midwife or nutritionist for more support with your own dietary needs – or book an appointment here.