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Thyroid Disease’s Effect on Fertility and Pregnancy


Over the past two decades, research into thyroid disease‘s effect on fertility and pregnancy has increased dramatically. Thyroid autoimmunity and dysfunction have been identified as risk factors when it comes to pregnancy. 

This disorder can affect a woman’s reproductive health and lead to fertility and pregnancy problems. During pregnancy, the thyroid plays a very important role. It regulates the production of T3 and T4 hormones that help in the development of your baby’s nervous system and brain. 

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, you must regularly monitor the hormone level throughout your pregnancy. Hormone imbalance can lead to complications like miscarriage or preterm birth. If you develop thyroid symptoms during pregnancy, it is best to consult a healthcare professional and get a proper diagnosis. 

Effective treatment and management of thyroid disorders are crucial for the health and development of your baby. This article will discuss thyroid disease’s effect on fertility and pregnancy. 

Thyroid Disease: A Glimpse

Thyroid disease affects the butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the throat. It produces hormones called thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which regulate many bodily functions. The organ is closely connected to the pituitary gland, which monitors hormone levels and tells the thyroid how much to produce.

If your thyroid doesn’t work properly, it affects the entire body. If there is too much TSH hormone in your body, it is called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes little TSH hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. Both the conditions are serious and can interfere with fertility and pregnancy. 

Thyroid disease is a medical condition in which your thyroid doesn’t make the right amount of hormones. This disease can affect anyone from men, women, the elderly, and teenagers to infants. This disorder is very common as it affects nearly 200 million people worldwide. 

Treatments for this disease can include medications, surgery, radiation treatments, or no treatment at all. Although many conditions improve on their own without treatment, others require additional testing and monitoring. 

Symptoms of this disease include,

  • Lethargy
  • Weight Gain/ Weight Loss
  • Increased Sensitivity to Cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry Skin
  • Puffy Face
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hair Thinning
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Fertility Challenges You Might Face with Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease may negatively impact your ability to conceive, making it vital to know if you may be suffering from this dysfunction. Regardless of why you seek infertility advice, it is crucial to check for thyroid issues.

Your doctor will screen you by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical examination. Thyroid symptoms include weight loss or gain, fatigue, irritability, heart palpitations, menstrual irregularities, and low or high TSH level. Here are some potential fertility challenges you might face due to this disorder. 

#1. High Risk of Anovulatory Cycle

Thyroid problems increase the risk of anovulatory cycles. It is a condition in which you go through the menstrual cycle, but your body doesn’t release an egg. Ovulation is an intricate process that requires a certain balance of hormones.

If any one of these factors is off, anovulation may result. Anovulatory women generally have irregular menstruation, although bleeding may occur at other times. You will not be able to conceive during anovulatory cycles as there is no egg released to be fertilized. 

#2. Defects In the Luteal Phase of Your Cycle

If your menstrual cycle is short, you are likely suffering from a luteal-phase defect. This problem mainly occurs due to thyroid problems. Your luteal-phase menstrual cycle may be shorter than 11 days and last more than 16 days, resulting in early miscarriages and difficulty getting pregnant.

As the cycle is too short, the fertilized egg is thrown out of your body with menstrual blood. If you are experiencing recurrent early miscarriages, this defect may also be the cause.

#3. Higher Risk of Hyperprolactinemia

People under 40 years of age are at an increased risk of developing hyperprolactinemia, a condition characterized by excess production of prolactin. It is the hormone responsible for the production of milk. Although there are no specific studies on this association, it is logical to conclude that a higher risk of hyperprolactinemia is associated with thyroid disease. It leads to irregular ovulation in women, thereby affecting pregnancy. 

#4. Early Onset of Perimenopause And Menopause

Thyroid disorder can also lead to the early onset of menopause. These hormones can mimic the symptoms of menopause, as they affect nearly every organ and tissue in the body. However, this disease can affect your ability to bear a child as you age. It shortens your childbearing age and reduces fertility. Because of this disorder, you might experience menopause and premenopausal in your early 40s. 

How Can Thyroid Disease Affect Your Cycle?

You’re not alone if you wonder how this disease can affect your cycle. This condition can affect your menstrual cycle, thereby causing problems with conception. Here is how thyroid disease can interfere with your cycle

  • Changes in Cycle Length

Thyroid disease can lead to changes in cycle length. If you have hypothyroidism, your periods will be further apart. In this condition, your period will be closer together. 

If you suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, you may be experiencing signs of thyroid disease. This is because the gland controls the production of a thyroid hormone, which is responsible for many functions in the body. It also increases the risk of developing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. 

  • Anovulatory Cycles

A woman’s hormone levels must reach a certain threshold to trigger ovulation. If a woman is unable to reach this threshold, she is unlikely to conceive. People who suffer from this condition can experience anovulatory cycles. During this condition, your body doesn’t release an egg. 

  • Shortened Luteal Phase

Several thyroid diseases can cause a short luteal phase. The length of the luteal phase is normally 11-17 days, although most women have cycles lasting 12-14 days. Any shorter than 10 days is too short to allow a fertilized egg to grow and implant. 

  • Estrogen and Progestogen Imbalance

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, your estrogen and progestogen levels can fall below the normal range. The lining of your uterus needs estrogen to form and shed during your period. Without enough estrogen, you will not have a period.

Types of Thyroid Conditions and Issues during Pregnancy

If you have ever been diagnosed with any type of thyroid disorder, you know just how much you need to pay attention to your body during pregnancy. Your doctor will check your hormone levels and closely monitor your thyroid symptoms. Here are the types of thyroid conditions and their effect on pregnancy. 

It is a type of condition in which there are less amount of thyroid hormones in your body. It is also known as an underactive thyroid. The gland doesn’t make enough hormones for your body. In this condition, your TSH level will go up. If you’re expecting, you may be wondering if hypothyroidism is a risk for your unborn child.

Your doctor can tell you if you’re at risk by checking your thyroid levels. If you have any symptoms of this condition, you should increase your medicine while pregnant. Your health care provider can also check your TSH levels. Your thyroid also produces hormones for your growing baby. Your baby depends on these hormones for approximately 16 to 18 weeks after conception. Left untreated, this can cause problems for both you and your baby. Your baby may even be at risk for miscarriage or premature delivery.

It is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks your thyroid gland and eventually destroys it. This condition often results in hypothyroidism. You must follow the same treatment plan for an underactive thyroid to control your TSH, T3, and T4 hormone levels. This condition can lead to infertility.

When TSH hormone levels are too low, ovulation is delayed. When a woman is anovulatory, her egg does not release for fertilization. Without fertilization, pregnancy is not possible. The untreated condition can lead to miscarriage or premature delivery, resulting in developmental problems. Women with this issue during pregnancy should consult their doctors as soon as possible.

It is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too many TSH hormones. It is also known as an overactive thyroid. In this disorder, your TSH level will decrease. You have to take medications to control the hormones in your body.

Although this condition during pregnancy rarely results in miscarriage, it can cause severe fetal morbidity and premature labour. For these reasons, the physiologic regulation of TSH function during pregnancy is of prime importance to the mother and fetus. Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to fetal complications, including low birth weight, prematurity, and eclampsia.

Thyroid Test and Screening during Pregnancy

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding whether or not to perform thyroid screening during pregnancy. While universal testing during pregnancy has been recommended for years, there is a question of whether it helps reduce complications and protect the fetus’s development. 

The American Thyroid Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all recommend against it. However, if you have thyroid symptoms, it is best for pregnant women to get their TSH levels checked. If you have any of these risk factors, it is best to go for a thyroid test.

  • History of thyroid disorder
  • A family history of thyroid disease
  • Signs or symptoms of thyroid disease
  • A positive test for thyroid antibodies
  • A goitre
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • History of thyroid surgery
  • Age over 30 years
  • Morbid obesity
  • History of infertility
  • Other autoimmune disorders


Thyroid disease can affect your fertility as well as your ability to retain your pregnancy. This disorder is very common and affects nearly 1 in every 8 women. However, you can easily control your thyroid hormone level with proper diet, lifestyle, and medication. Getting your thyroid checked during pregnancy is important to avoid complications. It will help you to manage this condition easily and deliver a healthy baby. 


How Can I Control My Thyroid During Pregnancy?

If you are wondering how to control your TSH during pregnancy, you are not alone. There are several options available. In most cases, taking anti-thyroid medicine is safe during pregnancy. In rare cases, however, you may need to adjust your medicine. The most commonly prescribed medicine for this disorder during pregnancy is levothyroxine, a synthetic hormone that replaces the T4 hormone.

What is the Normal Thyroid Level during Pregnancy?

The thyroid produces hormones that make the body function properly. During pregnancy, your gland may be underactive or overactive. This can lead to several problems during your pregnancy, including miscarriage and stillbirth. He is in the normal range of TSH during pregnancy.

First Trimester – 0.6–3.4 mU/L

Second Trimester – 0.37–3.6 mU/L

Third Trimester – 0.38–4.0 mU/L

What Causes Thyroid Dysfunction?

There are multiple causes of thyroid malfunction. Several factors affect the body’s ability to process the hormones, causing either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Causes of hypothyroidism include radiation treatment, Hashimoto’s disease, a congenital issue, thyroiditis, iodine deficiency, certain medications, etc. Causes of hyperthyroidism include Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, nodules, and excessive iodine. 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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