Thyroid Disease & Pregnancy - What You Need To Know
Pregnancy is a wonderful and often nerve-wracking experience for first-time mums (and even us old hands!) But when you add a thyroid condition into the mix, things can get complicated.
If you are pregnant or planning on falling pregnant and have a thyroid disorder, there are some important facts you need to know. These will help you to maximise your chances of a healthy pregnancy and happy baby!
What you need to know about thyroid disease and pregnancy
If you're struggling to fall pregnant, your thyroid may be to blame
There are dozens of factors that play a role in fertility. But one that is often missed is the role of the thyroid.
Thyroid hormones are required for the body to produce luteinising hormone, which is responsible for ovulation. This means that the first step of producing a mature egg relies on the thyroid balance being just right. Women with thyroid issues may not ovulate regularly or at all.
Achieving pregnancy requires two to tango, and the thyroid plays just as important a role in male fertility.
Low thyroid hormone levels can affect the libido, reduce the sperm count and even lead to poor-quality sperm. Elevated thyroid hormones can also affect sperm quality.
If the man’s thyroid hormones are imbalanced, it can reduce the chance of falling pregnant and increase the risk of miscarriage.
Thyroid conditions can have negative impacts on pregnancy if uncontrolled
Think that you don’t need to watch your thyroid health during pregnancy? Think again. An imbalance in thyroid hormones can lead to a variety of issues throughout pregnancy.
When you have low thyroid hormone levels, you are at a higher risk of miscarriage and pre-term birth. The lack of thyroid hormone drops your body temperature, and your little one requires a healthy body temperature to grow properly. If the temperature is too low, growth can cease altogether.
Low thyroid hormone levels can increase the risk of deformities, low birth weight and underdevelopment of the thyroid and sex organs.
Women with thyroid imbalances are also more likely to experience symptoms throughout pregnancy. This includes fatigue, mood swings, constipation and excessive weight gain.
So if you leave your thyroid unchecked, it can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous for both you and the baby.
Pregnancy can trigger thyroid issues - even if you've never had any before!
The fluctuating hormone levels can take a toll on a pregnant body, including the thyroid gland. This can lead to pregnancy-induced thyroid disorders. Some women even experience post-partum thyroid disease.
It’s believed that around 2-3% of women experience some form of thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy. However, I suspect the rate is higher, as it often goes under the radar.
Monitoring your thyroid levels throughout pregnancy and post-natal is critical, particularly if you experience any symptoms.
Whenever possible, you want to prepare in advance
Sometimes, pregnancy occurs before you plan for it. But if possible, you want to prepare your body (and your thyroid) in advance for pregnancy. Pre-conception care can make the process a lot easier, especially if you’re starting off with poorly controlled thyroid disease.
Every woman’s pre-conception care will look different, depending on a variety of factors. But there are a few ways you can boost your chances of falling pregnant naturally and maintaining a healthy pregnancy:
Check your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a precursor for sex hormones, so if you don’t have enough, you can’t produce the right level of hormones. It can take time to boost up your levels if they are low, which is why it’s best to check 3-6 months before you start trying for a baby.
Eat a variety of healthy fats throughout the day. These are what we call the building blocks of your sex hormones. Olive oil, avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds are great foods to add in daily for your dose of good fats.
Find a way to manage your stress levels effectively. When under ongoing stress, our body ‘steals’ compounds from progesterone production to produce stress hormones instead.
Reduce your use of plastics such as plastic containers. These contain compounds that can interfere with your natural hormones.
Seek professional support and guidance. If you know you have a thyroid condition, book in for a pre-conception care plan with a qualified and experienced health practitioner.
You can still have a healthy happy baby even if you have a thyroid condition!
A thyroid diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t take the journey towards motherhood.
It does mean that you need to be a little more aware and educated, monitor your levels carefully, and seek help if you need to.
But in my experience, if you take those 3 steps, there’s no reason why your thyroid should stop you from growing your family.
Are you ready to work towards a new family member?
Having a treatment and management plan can help to optimise your thyroid (and hormone!) levels and give you the best chance of a healthy pregnancy. To get started, book in an appointment with Tara today.