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Thyroid Issues Affect Female Fertility

The Center for Human Reproduction’s Dr. David H. Barad discusses why normal thyroid function is important for normal ovulation, menstruation and healthy pregnancy, and how CHR physicians address thyroid problems in women attempting pregnancies.

Normal thyroid function is really quite important for reproduction. When your abnormal function is at the level of being either hipo or hyperthyroid it can have gross effects on your menstrual cycles – make you either not ovulate all ovulate very irregularly. It can also lead to increases in endometrial lining beyond what you would normally see – as a result there would be very heavy menstrual periods. There are a variety of symptoms that are naturally related to reproduction, that are tied to thyroid abnormalities. Correcting the thyroid problem will ultimately correct those abnormalities. It’s going to be indirectly tied in other ways because the changes in metabolism (either extreme weight loss or are weight gains) can affect reproduction in other ways and through other mechanisms. More importantly normal thyroid function is very much related to a normal pregnancy and there can be fetal effects if a woman goes through her pregnancy with under active thyroid. So when we replace thyroid we’d rather see it a little bit on the hyper side rather than on the under active side. If we are going to prepare, it’s going to be to increase the function a little bit more because that helps to protect the baby. Once one becomes pregnant – if the woman is hypothyroid (underactive thyroid) and she’s taking thyroid replacement – the thyroid doses may need to be increased during the pregnancy – because the natural changes in hormones during pregnancy will increase the need for more thyroid hormone.