Thyroid and fertility
The thyroid gland is an endocrine-producing gland which plays a role in controlling the production of hormones around the body. If the thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism), this can cause problems with ovulation regulation leading to fertility problems. Thyroid function can also affect sperm count.
An under- or over-active thyroid can arise for a number of reasons. Some auto-immune diseases such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s diseases can disrupt thyroid function. Growths or inflammation of the thyroid can also lead to thyroid dysfunction. Hypothyroidism, where the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, can be caused by surgery or exposure to harmful substances such as iodide and lithium.
Why thyroid diseases cause infertility
The thyroid is an endocrine gland which produces hormones that regulate the growth and function of other bodily systems. It is crucial in for regulating hormone levels, and when thyroid production is disrupted, this can affect fertility as thyroid hormones are important in regulating ovulation.
Symptoms and diagnosis
An overactive thyroid can lead to mood changes (such as anxiety and hyperactivity) and weight loss, while an underactive thyroid can result in lethargy, weight gain and depression. There may also be swelling of the thyroid gland.
A doctor testing for thyroid disease will usually perform blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood. They may also ask you to have an ultrasound of your neck to examine the thyroid itself in more detail.
Choosing the right treatment for you
Lifestyle changes can help to treat some instances of thyroid disease. Others require more intense treatment. Hyperthyroidism can sometimes be treated with anti-thyroid medication or surgery, while hypothyroidism generally responds to treatment with hormone replacement medication such as levothyroxine.
When treating infertility caused by thyroid disease, fertility treatment can be a successful option. This can be in the form of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) depending on your circumstances. The treatment type that’s right for you will depend on a variety of individual circumstances including your age, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and ovarian reserve. The best way to ascertain this is to come into the clinic to see one of our doctors. They will go through your medical history with you and assess your ovaries and womb with a scan.
We work on the principle that administering the fewest drugs possible will ensure good health for the woman, the eggs and the baby. These protocols therefore use very few or no stimulating drugs, and use the principle of natural selection to collect the highest quality eggs. This has the added bonus of reducing side effects and ensuring a healthy bodily environment for implantation.
Your own individual prognosis depends on a variety of personal factors including egg reserve. This can be explained to you by one of our doctors following a scan. CREATE Fertility has consistently excellent success rates. For more information please visit our Success rates page.
Read more about hyperthyroidism and fertility here.