Hypothyroidism and Infertility
By Chinenye H.G Ofokansi
Published on ginnyent on 1st May, 2019
Photo: Thyroid Uk
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the endocrine system resulting in a malfunction of the thyroid gland. In hypothyroidism, there is a deviation in production of the thyroid hormones: thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine.
Hypothyroidism can manifest in a myriad of signs and symptoms: signs such as hair loss, slow pulse rate, swelling of the limbs, dry and coarse skin, effusion (pleural and pericardial) and ascites.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include poor memory and concentration, shortness of breath, impaired hearing, heavy menstrual periods (in women), dyspepsia, anorexia and constipation.
What causes hypothyroidism?
In general, insufficient iodine in most diets is the major cause of underactive thyroid. There is a form of hypothyroidism known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This form of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition. Occasionally, hypothyroidism can result from treatment with radioactive iodine, injury to the hypothalamus or anterior pituitary gland. Also some medications are known to impair thyroid function.
Hypothyroidism could also be present right from birth and could also result from thyroid surgery.
Often times, hypothyroidism presents with little or no clinical signs and symptoms, but even mild or subclinical hypothyroidism is a risk factor for infertility, more so miscarriage.
Candida can cause hypothyroidism
About 90% of candida victims have low thyroid function and many thyroid deficiency symptoms are also typical candida overgrowth symptoms. Candida binds to thyroxine and renders it ineffective. So there is a connection between candida and thyroid problems.
There is also a connection between hormonal imbalance and hypothyroidism. Books on candidiasis have always stressed the connection between yeast overgrowth and endocrine dysfunction. Candida toxins seem to thrive on hormones produced by the endocrine system. The first of which is the adrenal glands, and this will affect the person’s ability to feel energised, cause the person to feel hot or cold temperatures easily, and sweat more than usual, heart palpitations, low sugar etc. Moving on to the thyroid gland, they affect the body’s metabolic rate. Serotonin levels are also affected; hence the mood swings.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is more common in women and people who are over 50. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, the release of eggs from the ovary, which impairs fertility.
Prevalence: The prevalence of hypothyroidism in women of reproductive age is 2-4%. However, in a study conducted by Indu Verma, Renuka Sood, Sunil junega and Satinder Kaur, a total of 394 infertile women visiting the infertility clinic for the first time were investigated for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin (PRL). Infertile women with hypothyroidism alone or with associated hyperprolactinemia were given treatment for hypothyroidism with thyroxine. Of the 394 infertile women, 23.9% were hypothyroid. After treatment, 76.6% of the infertile women conceived within 6weeks to 1 year.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be confirmed through laboratory tests. Blood sample from the patient is tested to ascertain the levels of the thyroid hormones: thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine. Usually, the confirmation is done by testing of a second blood sample several weeks after the first test.
Steps to Take
An important step for correcting infertility in women with underactive thyroid is to confirm diagnosis of hypothyroidism. According to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, salt iodization has been shown to prevent hypothyroidism. The institute also stated that hypothyroidism could be treated with levothyroxine; dosage could be tailored to symptoms and the levels of the thyroid hormones. They however warned that excessive amounts of levothyroxine can worsen some types of hypothyroidism.
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, March, 2013
Verma, I Sood R. Junega, S. kaur, S (2012). Prevalence of hypothyroidism in infertile women and evaluation of response to treatment for hypothyroidism on infertility. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research.2(1):17-19
Persani L (2012). “Clinical review: Central hypothyroidism: pathogenic diagnostic and therapeutic challenges.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (Review): 97(9):3068-78
Syed S(2015). “Iodine and the ‘near’ eradication of cretinism” Paediatrics. 135(4):594-6