Thyroid and Fertility, Thyroid and Pregnancy | Infographic – Dr Fiona McCulloch

Please share this handy infographic to spread awareness of how important thyroid function is in pregnancy and fertility. As Naturopathic doctors, we often see the far-reaching effect that thyroid health has on women’s fertility.

Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s disease can result in infertility, miscarriage, and developmental problems including reduced IQ in the baby. Many women do not know that their thyroid may be functioning below the optimal range for fertility. This is because most doctors use outdated guidelines which allow the TSH to rise to above 5. Newer guidelines have been implemented, however most labs still use the outdated guideline to “flag” abnormal results. To go even further, many fertility doctors have found that the most optimal range for TSH in fertility patients is between 1 and 2. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, the demands on the thyroid increase and the need for iodine increases. There is also an additional loss of iodine through the urine in pregnancy, and thus, pregnant women have a greater need for iodine. Ensure that you are getting 250mcg of iodine at the very least in pregnancy and sufficient selenium (100mcg at minimum). Iodine deficiency is a growing problem, even in the developing world. Most prenatal vitamins are below the recommended minimal dosages of iodine, so try to choose one that has a higher content of this important mineral. To read more about iodine and the thyroid, you can read this comprehensive post on the topic.

Why is the Thyroid so Important in Pregnancy?

The fetus cannot make any thyroid hormone until 12 weeks and is completely dependent on the mother to provide all thyroid hormone needed for growth and metabolism. If the mother is in a hypothyroid state, the fetus will not be able to grow normally and this can result in either miscarriage, or developmental problems. Many women with recurrent miscarriage actually have a thyroid problem. Low thyroid function can also cause difficulty in achieving pregnancy as well. A low thyroid will affect the development of the eggs and also results in hormonal imbalances and ovulatory dysfunction. It has also been found the thyroid antibodies, even if the thyroid hormones themselves are normal, are associated with miscarriage and infertility. Thyroid antibodies have also been found inside of the follicles(eggs) so they may actually cross react and cause damage to the eggs.

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