Myth About Thyroid Health: "I Have Hypothyroidism So I Can't Get Pregnant"

hypothyroidism pregnancy Jan 18, 2020
 

Conceiving a child can be difficult. It can take many months of monitoring your fertility signs, timing your intimacy, and seeing lots of single lines before you finally celebrate seeing double.

Navigating your health when you have hypothyroidism can be difficult as well. It can cause debilitating fatigue, menstrual irregularity, sluggish elimination, and mood swings from depression to anxiety and everything in between.

When you put the two together, conceiving when you have hypothyroidism can seem like an impossibility. It might feel that way, but let’s talk some truth into why having hypothyroidism doesn’t mean you can never sing sweet lullabies to your little one.  

 

The Basics of Hypothyroidism...and why it Makes Conceiving More Difficult:

Your thyroid gland releases thyroid hormone which controls the growth and metabolism of essentially every cell in your body. When your thyroid is underperforming in a hypothyroid state, every cell in your body can end up suffering.

This is what brings on signals like:

  • Fatigue: when you don’t have sufficient “gas” for your engine, your energy begins to tank. Your body signals you to rest in an effort to conserve as much of this precious resource as it can.
  • Hair loss: the cells within your hair follicles turn over rapidly and are more sensitive to low thyroid levels than other tissues.
  • Feeling cold: when your metabolism decreases so does the amount of internal heat you generate causing cold hands, feet, and the need to constantly bundle.
  • Joint and muscle aches: with a slowed metabolism, your body might resort to breaking down its own tissue for energy, leading to muscle weakness and discomfort.

In many ways, your thyroid works like a safety monitor for your body. When it’s functioning well, you feel well, and you don’t receive these warning signals. When the gland itself becomes challenged or when the thyroid hormone you produce isn’t taken up by your cells, you experience these and other symptoms as signals to alert you that something isn’t right. It’s not “normal” to feel fatigued even when you’re sleeping more than 10 hours a day. It’s not “normal” to bundle up when it’s 75 degrees and sunny. Your body is trying to tell you something.

One of your body systems that receive a signal louder than any other is your reproductive system. If your thyroid gland can’t sustain your energy and support your body’s metabolism it’s not going to be able to support another life within you. Your drop in thyroid function signals to your reproductive garden that things aren’t safe and the dial for your female hormones gets turned way down.

“We can’t support her. We certainly can’t maintain another life!”

As a result, you might struggle with menstrual irregularity, infrequent ovulation, and imbalanced estrogen and progesterone. All of these and more can lead to great difficulties in conceiving and diagnosed infertility.

 

What Can I do to Change this Signaling?

To increase your fertility, your thyroid must start sending out the message that the environment is safe. Your reproductive system needs to know that supporting and maintaining another life is possible.

To do this, many women are encouraged to get their TSH levels down as this is seen as a primary marker of thyroid health. It’s thought that when your TSH level decreases to within “normal” or to the lower end of normal, your thyroid function will improve and allow your reproductive system to get going again. This can be true, but it’s rarely the full story. Read more about this HERE where I discussed why TSH should never be the only thyroid value used to evaluate your thyroid function.

More than focusing on one lab value, it’s essential to examine and address your whole-body health to improve your thyroid and ultimately your fertility. 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies

Adequate stores, proper forms, and complete absorption of B vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron, and vitamin D are required for optimal thyroid and fertility health.

Whether or not you have your levels of these and other micronutrients tested, you need to be sure to include good sources of these nutrients through foods and supplements when needed. Full Circle Prenatal is one of the best prenatal supplements available, made with the most highly absorbable forms of these and other nutrients.

 

Gut Imbalances

There has been a great deal of research on the gut-thyroid connection.

When you have imbalances in your beneficial and pathogenic bacteria, harmful viruses, fungal organisms, and other pathogens in your gut, they can cause gut permeability (also known as leaky gut).

This breach in your normally protective intestinal barrier can directly lead to Hashimoto’s, the autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism. It’s important to identify these pathogens and use natural foods and supplements to eliminate them and rebalance and repair your gut tissue.

Healing your leaky gut can even put Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions into remission and thus improve your fertility when this is a contributing cause.

 

Inflammation

There are many causes of inflammation and many ways that inflammation can present itself in each body. Chronic inflammation causes conditions like PCOS, Hashimoto’s, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory conditions that directly impair fertility. Other signs of systemic inflammation are skin issues like acne, rosacea, and eczema; allergies or chronic congestion; recurring hives (often associated with hypothyroidism); irritable bowel syndrome; and migraines or tension headaches.

Whole-body inflammation sends the warning signal to your reproductive system that your body is not safe. Your immune system is constantly fighting a losing battle, and it doesn’t want to risk not being able to care for another precious life. This is why generalized inflammation can significantly reduce your chances of conceiving.

It can be difficult to pinpoint inflammation as a direct cause of infertility, but eliminating common trigger foods like gluten, dairy, corn, and soy can be a great start to improving your thyroid health and boosting fertility. Specialized food sensitivity testing can identify unsuspecting food and chemical triggers, allowing you to turn the volume down on your inflammation even faster.

 

Sleep

Plain and simple, sleep is a nutrient.

Just like other food nutrients that you need to consume, you need adequate and restorative sleep to regulate your big, and hopefully happy, hormone family.

Cortisol, melatonin, insulin, and your thyroid and female hormones are all impacted by your sleep. When you’re deprived of sleep, your hormones suffer as well. Just as you seek to maximize the nutrients at the end of your fork, do your best to nourish your nighttime hours with a dark, uninterrupted, and definitely screen-free, sleep environment.

 

It is more challenging to conceive when your body has the added stress of hypothyroidism, but pregnancy is not impossible. When you work to nourish and restore your whole body instead of trying to manipulate a single lab value, your thyroid and fertility health can begin to thrive.

 

If you want to talk more about getting to the root cause of your hypothyroidism or fertility challenges, you can schedule a time for us to talk here.

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