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 thyroid function is restored or thyroid disease is brought under control.
Thyroid and pregnancy: the link
If you have hyperthyroidism:
Hyperthyroidism is a case of an overactive thyroid that causes lighter and irregular periods. The increase in thyroid hormone levels caused by hyperthyroidism disrupts your menstrual cycle, making it harder to get pregnant. If you have active hyperthyroidism, you should take antithyroid medication and follow a preventative diet during pregnancy.
If you are looking to get pregnant after treatment, you should have your thyroid function checked with a blood test. This is because you may still have Graves’ antibodies in your blood, which could impact your chances of conceiving.
Also, women who have had hyperthyroidism in the past but have not had thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine 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, you are more likely to have difficulty conceiving. Women with hypothyroidism may have longer or heavier periods, which can lead to anemia.
Sometimes periods can stop completely. However, taking medication (levothyroxine tablets) and getting your thyroid back to normal can dramatically improve your chances of getting pregnant.
If you have postpartum thyroiditis:
Postpartum thyroiditis is an inflammatory thyroid disorder that occurs in 5-10% of women after childbirth. It is more common in women with thyroid autoantibodies.
Postpartum thyroiditis is usually a temporary disorder. It may disappear with levothyroxine tablets or without treatment after a few months. However, postpartum thyroiditis can sometimes lead to hypothyroidism, which makes future pregnancies difficult.
Therefore, it is essential to have a thyroid function test before conceiving and after every birth. The risk of recurrence of postpartum thyroiditis is 50% 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 can be harder to conceive. Also, if you have a thyroid disorder during pregnancy, your baby may be at increased risk of low birth weight, rapid heart rate, poor weight gain, and low IQ. Therefore, it is safer to plan your pregnancy after having your thyroid hormone levels checked.
If you have ever been diagnosed with thyroid disease, you have a significant advantage over undiagnosed people. Treating your thyroid problem before trying to get pregnant can help reduce the risk of miscarriage and other fertility issues. For example, a study found that 76% of 400 women with hypothyroidism could conceive within a year of treatment.
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Although you can get pregnant with a thyroid condition, any disruption in normal thyroid function can lead to delays in conception. Additionally, a pregnancy with thyroid problems can increase your baby’s health complications. Therefore, doctors strongly advise to check your thyroid hormone levels first and then plan a pregnancy.
What to do and know during pregnancy?
Here’s what you can expect once you’re pregnant and have thyroid disease.
According to researchPremature birth, preeclampsia, poor fetal growth and brain development, low birth weight, and miscarriage can occur if you don’t treat thyroid disease with medication during pregnancy.
Consider taking anti-thyroid medications to help lower abnormal thyroid hormone levels. Never stop using a thyroid supplement without first talking to your doctor, especially if you are pregnant.
All pregnant women with known thyroid dysfunction should be screened for abnormal TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels. TSH should be below 2.5 mIU/mL during the first trimester. It may seem overwhelming, but thyroid monitoring will increase throughout pregnancy.
Monitor your iodine intake before and throughout pregnancy. During pregnancy you will need additional iodine, approximately 250 micrograms per day. Iodized salt, dairy products, for vegetarians Beanswhole grains, kale, strawberries, meat, poultry, and seafood are all excellent sources of iodine.
Prenatal vitamins are an essential part of nutrition before conception and during pregnancy. However, it is essential to discuss with your healthcare professional whether or not a prenatal vitamin containing iodine is right for you.
Getting pregnant can be harder if you have a thyroid problem, but it’s not impossible. All women who are planning to get pregnant and have a thyroid problem should get treatment.
A thyroid condition during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications for both mother and baby. Proper treatment for your thyroid condition will resolve fertility issues. However, remember that every case is different, so you need to work with an expert to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.