If you are currently undergoing treatment for a thyroid condition or have had a thyroid problem in the past, it is essential to know what to expect when trying to get pregnant.
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in overall reproductive health, including fertility, so an undiagnosed thyroid condition can make it difficult to conceive. However, a healthy and successful pregnancy is possible once the thyroid function is restored or the thyroid disease is under control.
Thyroid and Pregnancy: The Connection
If You Have Hyperthyroidism:
Hyperthyroidism is a case of an overactive thyroid which causes lighter and irregular periods. The increased thyroid hormone levels caused by hyperthyroidism disrupt your menstrual cycle, making it more difficult to become pregnant. If you have active hyperthyroidism, you must take antithyroid drugs and a preventive diet during pregnancy.
If you’re looking to get pregnant after treatment, you should have your thyroid function checked via a blood test. That is because you may still have Graves’ antibodies in your blood, which could impact your chances of conception.
In addition, women who previously had hyperthyroidism but did not receive thyroid surgery or radioiodine may have a relapse. Therefore, working with your doctor to achieve a stable balance is essential.
If You Have Hypothyroidism:
If you have untreated or undertreated hypothyroidism, it is more likely that you will have difficulty conceiving. Women with hypothyroidism may have longer or heavier periods, which can lead to anaemia.
Sometimes, the periods may stop altogether. However, taking medication (levothyroxine tablets) and treating your thyroid back to normal can dramatically improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
If You Have Postpartum Thyroiditis:
Postpartum thyroiditis is an inflammatory thyroid disorder that occurs in 5-10% of women after childbirth. It is most common in women with thyroid auto-antibodies.
Postpartum thyroiditis is usually a temporary disorder. It can clear up with levothyroxine tablets or without treatment after a few months. However, postpartum thyroiditis can sometimes lead to hypothyroidism, making it difficult for future pregnancies.
Therefore, it is vital to have a thyroid function test before you conceive and after each birth. There is a 50% risk of recurrence of postpartum thyroiditis in subsequent pregnancies.
Can a Woman Get Pregnant With a Thyroid Condition?
You can get pregnant even if you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, but it may be more challenging to conceive. Additionally, if you have a thyroid disorder during pregnancy, your baby may be at increased risk for low birth weight, a fast heart rate, poor weight gain, and low IQ. Therefore, it is safer to plan your pregnancy after controlling your thyroid hormone levels.
If you have already been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, you are at a significant advantage compared to undiagnosed people. Treating your thyroid condition before trying to get pregnant can help reduce the likelihood of miscarrying and other fertility issues. For example, a study found that 76% of 400 women with hypothyroidism could conceive within a year of treatment.
The HealthifyMe Note
While you can get pregnant with a thyroid condition, any disruptions to normal thyroid function can cause delays in conception. Additionally, pregnancy with thyroid issues can increase your baby’s health complications. Therefore, doctors strongly advise first getting your thyroid hormone levels under control and then planning pregnancy.
What to Do and Know During Pregnancy?
Here’s what you can expect once you’re pregnant while suffering from a thyroid condition.
According to research, premature birth, preeclampsia, poor fetal growth and brain development, low birth weight, and miscarriage might arise if you do not address the thyroid disease with medication during pregnancy.
Consider taking anti-thyroid medications to help reduce abnormal levels of thyroid hormones. Never discontinue using a thyroid supplement without first talking to your doctor, especially when expecting.
All pregnant women with known thyroid dysfunction should get screened for abnormal TSH (the thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. TSH should be less than 2.5 mIU/mL during the first trimester. It might seem overwhelming, but thyroid monitoring will increase throughout pregnancy.
Keep an eye on your iodine intake before and throughout pregnancy. During pregnancy, you’ll need additional iodine—about 250 micrograms each day. Iodised salt, dairy products, for vegetarians beans, whole grains, kale, strawberries, meat, poultry, and seafood are all excellent sources of iodine.
Prenatal vitamins are an essential component of preconception and pregnancy nutrition. However, it’s vital to discuss with your health professional whether or not a prenatal vitamin containing iodine is appropriate for you.
Getting pregnant may be more challenging if you have a thyroid condition, but it is not impossible. All women thinking about getting pregnant and having a thyroid condition should get treatment for it.
A thyroid condition during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications for the mother and baby. Proper treatment for your thyroid condition will solve fertility issues. However, remember that each case is different, so you should work with an expert to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.