There is no denying that it is always best to be in your best shape, physically and emotionally before conception. This helps to give your baby the best start in life along with a healthy pregnancy. But at times, your health may not be at its best. This may cause few hidden obstacles you can face while you are trying to conceive.
One such common challenge is when the Master gland or Thyroid gland becomes underactive or is in a ‘hypothyroid state’, leading to hypothyroidism. The condition known as hypothyroidism affects many women in their reproductive age, which further may result in higher rates of infertility and pregnancy complications.
So, what is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland situated in the front of your neck, tucked under your chin. Without hormones made by this gland, your body would face a lot of challenges and in some situations come to a shrieking halt.
How does the thyroid gland regulate the body?
The thyroid gland secretes hormones, i.e., T3, T4 and TSH all of which are very crucial in controlling body’s metabolic rate, and major systems such as nerve, muscle, digestive, heart, reproductive etc.
Can these thyroid hormones affect conception?
Low levels of thyroid hormones do cause a bit of concern as they can alter the course of your conception and pregnancy. Few problems that can arise include:
- Disruption in the reproductive hormone balance
- Fluctuations in the menstrual cycle
- Abnormalities in the ovulation cycle
- Disturbance in the hormones needed for egg follicle maturation
- Development of ovarian cysts
All these may directly affect your fertility, conception and pregnancy. Besides, pregnancy with hypothyroidism can at times end in a miscarriage and in fewer cases, the child may be born with congenital disabilities.
We know it sounds disheartening, but don’t worry. Despite these challenges, a successful pregnancy with thyroid issues is possible with an appropriate planning.
When do you need to get your thyroid function test done?
Your doctor will advise for the test when you have:
- Family history of thyroid disorders
- Unsuccessful to get pregnant for six months
- Signs & symptoms like joint pain, muscle pain, hair loss, constipation, fatigue and lethargy, decreased libido, reduced heart rate and development of a goiter
- Intolerance to cold
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- History of miscarriages
- Weight gain even with exercise and a healthy diet
How do you diagnose Hypothyroidism?
Thyroid profile test will determine the levels of two thyroid hormones – thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) in the body.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when the T4 levels are low and TSH levels are high.
So, how can you control hypothyroidism?
The most effective strategy to control thyroid disease during pregnancy is starting your pre-conception preparations a few months before.
A thorough action plan is required which focuses on reducing hormonal imbalance, resolving menstrual irregularities, and optimizing your fertility. You can do this by adopting a natural way or through medications.
The natural ways to support your thyroid include:
- Be stress free
- Develop healthy life style habits
- Have thyroid-friendly diet
- Eat food rich in iodine (e.g. fish), selenium (sunflower seeds, nuts)
- Get adequate sleep
- Do regular exercise
The medical way to support your thyroid include:
- Thyroxine tablet (identical to T4 produced by the thyroid gland) is prescribed.
The main goal is to substitute its deficiency in your body. Your doctor will advise you to check your thyroid hormone levels. If it is low, a dosage (as prescribed by your doctor) of thyroxine is given. Regular thyroid function tests are also to be done until your thyroid function is back to normal again.
In a nutshell, we recommend that you consult your doctor regularly. This is to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels are stable enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy. On consent of your doctor, try conceiving and look forward to a happy pregnancy!