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Normalizing Thyroid Function for IVF Success

The Center for Human Reproduction's Dr. David H. Barad discusses how regulating the thyroid functions when preparing for fertility treatments can help patients' responses.

Related Articles: Thyroid Disease and Infertility


The most sensitive way of testing for thyroid function is to measure TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: a interior pituitary hormone similar to FSH). So FSH was follicle stimulating hormone, TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone. If your thyroid is not producing sufficient thyroid hormone to make your metabolism normal, your pituitary will increase the TSH to try and drive it further. So it's very easy to detect when one has an underactive thyroid because the TSH goes up higher. It turns out that if you look at the normal values for TSH on the average laboratory test, they may say the upper limits 4 or 6 or even 8 sometimes. However, it's now pretty much agreed that when one is pregnant, you want to have the TSH levels around 2. In anticipation of trying to establish a pregnancy, we regulate our patients so that their TSH values are around 2 before we start their fertility treatment. Recently, we’ve been looking at how normalizing the TSH actually helps in terms of responding to our fertility treatments. We have some evidence that abnormalities of TSH can be related to poor ovarian function and that correcting it helps the ovarian function to improve. So that’s an important part of getting everything organized and ready in order for one to have the best response she can to your treatment. There are two other types of measurements related to thyroid, those are direct measurement of the thyroid hormones and also looking at immunological antibodies to the thyroid. Women who have an overactive thyroid of course will have higher than normal levels of thyroid hormones.

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