Since my recent experience at the Restorative Medicine conference in Santa Fe, I have been seeing more and more professional women at my office suffering from the symptoms associated with low thyroid function. These driven, successful women are most often concerned about of fatigue, increased body fat (especially around their stomachs), low mood, menstrual irregularities and difficulty conceiving. They just “don’t feel like themselves” anymore. I recently saw a very successful woman in a highly stressful career who was struggling to get pregnant; this has become an all too common concern of the women I regularly see so my focus recently has been on optimizing their adrenal and thyroid health to support fertility.
Underactive thyroid symptoms and infertility symptoms are very similar; women having fertility challenges may have underlying thyroid dysfunction even when lab values of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) are normal.
Here are 4 reasons your thyroid may be keeping you from getting pregnant:
The inability to ovulate midway through the menstrual cycle (typically around day 14) is a very common symptom of hypothyroidism.
- Luteal Phase Defect
Often with subclinical and clinical hypothyroidism the second half of the cycle, after ovulation, is too short. This prevents a fertilized egg from implanting securely within the uterine lining. Often this results in the period that follows to be heavy and later than expected.
- Elevated Prolactin
Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) is released from the hypothalamus and acts on the pituitary. When TRH levels are high it drives an elevation of prolactin (produced in the pituitary gland) which suppresses ovulation.
- Estrogen Dominance
Hormonal imbalances can affect the efficiency of the thyroid. Having a relative excess of estrogen inhibits the ability of the thyroid to produce hormones. This is a double whammy affecting fertility as estrogen dominance often is paired with low levels of progesterone, which is necessary for a successful pregnancy.
Signs of estrogen dominance (these look a lot like the symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism):
– weight gain
– PMS (painful cramps especially)
– mood swings
– heavy flow with periods
– breast tenderness
– decreased libido
– headaches and migraines
Check your thyroid function here.
Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.
Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.