Understanding Hyperthyroidism And Fertility

Impacting about 1% of people in the US, hyperthyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can affect various aspects of a person’s health, including the reproductive system.


Upsetting a balanced system

The thyroid gland is crucial in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. An overactive thyroid gland can disrupt the balance of hormones essential for ovulation and fertility, resulting in irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty in conceiving, and an increased risk of miscarriage should a pregnancy occur.

How hyperthyroidism affects fertility

Research has shown that hyperthyroidism can reduce fertility in both men and women. In men, hyperthyroidism can affect the quality and quantity of sperm, leading to male-factor infertility. In women, hyperthyroidism can cause anovulatory cycles, in which the ovaries do not release an egg each month, making conception much more difficult.

Medications can help

The first line of treatment for hyperthyroidism is prescription medications. Antithyroid medications, such as propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole (MMI), work by reducing the production of thyroid hormones. Antithyroid medications can help to restore normal thyroid function, regulate the menstrual cycle, and improve fertility.

Radioiodine therapy

Another treatment for hyperthyroidism is radioiodine therapy. With this treatment, a small amount of radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland, destroying the overactive thyroid cells. Radioiodine therapy can help to restore normal thyroid function and improve reproductive health.

Surgery for severe cases

For people with severe hyperthyroidism that cannot be managed with medication or radioiodine therapy, surgery may be recommended. The surgery for hyperthyroidism involves removing part or all of the thyroid gland, which can help to restore normal thyroid function and improve fertility. After surgery, patients may need to take lifelong thyroid hormone replacement medication to replace the hormones the thyroid gland would have naturally produced.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to hyperthyroidism treatments, maintaining a healthy lifestyle when trying to conceive is essential. A healthy lifestyle includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Any woman planning to conceive should also start a prenatal vitamin to obtain enough of the necessary nutrients a developing baby will require.

Assisted reproductive technology

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF involves the retrieval of eggs from the ovaries and fertilization with sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus for implantation. ART can be particularly useful for individuals with anovulatory cycles or other fertility issues and can increase the chances of pregnancy. However, ART can be expensive and emotionally draining. Patients with hyperthyroidism should work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate fertility treatment options.

Building a family with hyperthyroidism

Fertility is an important aspect of a person’s health that can be affected by a hyperthyroidism diagnosis. Individuals who have hyperthyroidism and are struggling to conceive can speak with a healthcare provider to identify the best fertility treatment options. With the right approach, restoring normal thyroid function and having a healthy baby is possible.

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