In 2012, a study was conducted by Applied and Basic Medical Research Journal which revealed that almost two to four percent of women in their reproductive age have low levels of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is also the low functioning of thyroid glands and women are more likely to develop it because of some biological, social, and environmental factors. Women’s bodies are more complex than men in terms of hormonal changes and reproduction. The low level of thyroid hormones seriously affects the fertility and reproduction-related issues of women. Following are some of the stages of the female reproductive system in which the impacts of low levels of the thyroid have been explained.
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Pre- Pregnancy Stage
Hypothyroidism and a low level of thyroid hormone can leave a serious impact on menstruation leading to heavy flow or very little flow. It means that the menstrual cycle of women is also dependent on the moderate level of the thyroid hormones and if there is some disturbance in the balance, processes like menstruation will be affected. Not only do the disturbed levels of thyroid hormones affect menstruation, but the process of ovulation is also badly affected. If the level of thyroxine gets lowered, it can cause no egg release during the process of ovulation or abnormal release of eggs which leads to different forms of difficulties while conceiving. The shortening of the second half of the menstrual cycle can also be caused by hypothyroidism. It might create hindrance in the attaching of the fertilized egg in the mother’s womb. It might cause low basal body temperature, ovarian cysts, high thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies which can cause the fall of pregnancy or snatch the capability of becoming pregnant from a woman.
Women must have their thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 regulated and checked to save their pregnancy and maintain their capability of conceiving. Women must be careful about their thyroid hormone levels if they have faced a miscarriage, or their thyroid hormone level is already disturbed. Hypothyroidism can also be hereditary. If a woman’s family has a history of this disease or other disorders like autoimmune disease, she should definitely monitor her thyroid hormone levels regularly. Noticing the symptoms in the initial stages and dealing with the disease at an early stage can bring successful outcomes.
The initial symptoms of hypothyroidism are vague and hard to identify. In the case of pregnancy, some of the early symptoms of pregnancy are similar to the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as:
- Gaining of weight
- Extreme tiredness
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty in concentrating
Sometimes, people mix up the early symptoms of pregnancy and hypothyroidism. This leads to some confusion among women whether they should opt for treatment of hypothyroidism or not.
It is recommended that women should see a doctor and get their Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels tested after every six to eight weeks. This will help the women understand whether their hormonal levels are normal or not. One important thing to be noted is that requirements of thyroid hormone increase within the pregnancy in order to give some support to the baby and the mother. A prenatal vitamin is composed of iron and calcium which can hinder the way the body uses thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Such a problem can be avoided and prevented by taking thyroid replacement-related medicine and prenatal vitamin four to five hours apart.
Physicians should carefully handle pregnant females suffering from hypothyroidism otherwise this can lead to the following complications.
- Maternal anemia
If the red blood cells required to carry needed oxygen to different muscles and parts of the body are not sufficient, it may lead to different disorders in pregnant females like anemia.
- Increase in maternal blood pressure
When the hypothyroidism adds up to the pregnancy and its symptoms and this combination are not properly handled, it can seriously affect the blood pressure of the females that is quite unhealthy for the mother and the baby.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
It can lead to the loss of the pregnancy at any stage or the early or on-time birth of the baby but in the dead form.
- Low infant birth weight
It can cause the low body weight of the infant because the nourishment of the baby can be affected by the careless handling of the pregnant patient.
- Premature birth
This can also lead to the premature birth of the baby and putting a big question mark on his/her chances of survival.
Also, the careless handling of a pregnant patient suffering from hypothyroidism can affect the growth and brain development of the baby.
Within the first year after childbirth, women can develop autoimmune disorders and diseases like postpartum thyroiditis. In this disorder, the butterfly-shaped inflammation of the thyroid gland occurs that might last for weeks and months. A few of the symptoms are mild and hard to differentiate from the struggle of entering into parenthood. The symptoms of this disease occur in two stages. In the first stage, the symptoms might look like hyperthyroidism including the loss of weight, trouble with heat, nervousness, pounding heartbeat and difficulty sleeping, etc. Whereas, in the second stage, the symptoms of hypothyroidism might appear which include trouble with cold temperature, constipation, no energy, and dry skin, etc. The symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis differ from one woman to another. Women with a weak immune system have higher chances of developing postpartum thyroiditis. Also, the milk production of the mothers can be affected by this disorder which can be resolved by proper hormone replacement therapy.
Women should not take the symptoms of hypothyroidism and relevant disorders for granted. It is hard to distinguish between the symptoms of hypothyroidism and the usual effects of pregnancy, that’s why it is important to stay in touch with your physician. Early identification and early cure of the disease can open doors of health for them, and such symptoms are signs which demand to be noticed and treated to live a healthier life.
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Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism and Thyroid Tests
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- What’s Hyperthyroidism
- Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
- How to diagnose Hyperthyroidism?
- How to treat Hyperthyroidism
- Difference between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism