Thyroid Infertility

Thyroid Infertility

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Thyroid disorders are incredibly common. This is especially so where low thyroid function or hypothyroidism is the problem. At least 9-10% of the female population is affected at any one time, along with smaller numbers of men. It’s important to understand that hypothyroidism is significantly underdiagnosed and many women especially suffer symptoms not knowing that they have the condition. Whether undiagnosed or diagnosed, low thyroid function is a potentially serious issue when it comes to conception and pregnancy. Infrequent and/or irregular menstruation and ovulation, subfertility and infertility, lowered ovarian reserve, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy, are all associated with hypothyroidism. At Advance Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic, Hertford, we work successfully with patients suffering with thyroid disorders, including those trying to conceive, or who are already pregnant. If you’re unsure and don’t have a diagnosis, we can refer you for comprehensive blood tests which will help identify an underlying thyroid disorder. If already diagnosed, our effective acupuncture, Chinese herbs and lifestyle treatment strategies usually help patients improve their chances of conceiving naturally and maintaining a safe, stable pregnancy. Call Advance Clinic today and put yourself in safe hands.

The Thyroid Gland: Keeping You Up To Speed

Your thyroid is a small gland that lies in the front of your neck. Through the hormones it releases, it has a major influence on almost every physiological function in your body.

Specifically, your thyroid controls the rate of metabolism in your body, in other words the rate at which all the chemical reactions in your cells take place. When functioning as it should, your thyroid is critical for keeping you well, both physically and mentally. A dysfunctional thyroid gland, by contrast, can leave you feeling very unwell indeed. It can also have serious consequences for your ability to conceive, as well as well as your ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy (see below).

Are you Hypothyroid or Hyperthyroid? Your Guide to The Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

Thyroid dysfunction usually means that your thyroid becomes either underactive or overactive or sometimes both. Your symptoms can often provide clues to which is true for you.

Photo of women receiving ultrasound test from nurseHere are signs and symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid:

  1. Weight gain and/or inability to lose weight
  2. Constipation
  3. Fatigue and low energy
  4. Fluid retention
  5. Hair loss
  6. Feeling cold or chilled much of the time
  7. Poor memory, brain fog, and/or difficulty processing thoughts and getting words out
  8. Depression or low mood
  9. Goitre (swelling in the neck)

In contrast, an overactive thyroid might lead to:

  1. Weight loss or difficulty maintaining weight, despite a normal diet
  2. Palpitations
  3. Subjective feelings of heat, or sweating even in normal temperatures
  4. Insomnia
  5. Feelings of mild or strong anxiety and jitteriness
  6. Tendency to outbursts of anger for no good reason
  7. Goitre (swelling in the neck)

In some cases, it’s possible to alternately experience symptoms of both underactive and overactive thyroid. This can happen in a condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (see below).

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease: The Autoimmune Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction

There are many reasons why your thyroid gland may not function correctly. Thyroid cancer is quite rare, so sometimes it’s simply the case that deficiency of certain nutrients such as iodine, selenium, zinc and iron, as well as vitamin D and vitamin A is to blame.

It’s also true that many lifestyle factors and health issues can disrupt thyroid function, including:

  1. Poor diet.
  2. Excessive or prolonged emotional stress.
  3. Overexercising.
  4. Hidden/retained infections in the gut or thyroid.
  5. Exposure to environmental toxins.

Nevertheless, by far the most common issue underlying disruption to thyroid function is autoimmune disease, which tends to interact with the lifestyle and health issues mentioned above. In autoimmunity our immune system attacks and gradually destroys our body tissues and organs, sometimes including the thyroid gland.

Autoimmune thyroid disease is one of the most common autoimmune disorders in the West. It is also significantly underdiagnosed. That means lots of people (especially women) suffer with thyroid symptoms, but do not know that they have thyroid disease.

The two main types of autoimmune thyroid disorder are:

  1. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – in which the thyroid is generally underactive (hypothyroidism).
  2. Graves’ Disease – where thyroid function becomes overactive (hyperthyroidism).

Hashimoto’s is far more common than Graves’. Possibly more than 90% of those diagnosed with low thyroid function will have Hashimoto’s.

Thyroid Disease and The Risks to Your Fertility and Pregnancy

Photo of fertility chart with pills and thermometerThyroid disease, including low thyroid function, can have a negative impact on your fertility and your ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy. For example:

  1. By significantly lowering ovarian reserve – implying decreased capacity of your ovaries to produce eggs capable of fertilization.
  2. By partially or fully inhibiting ovulation, thereby making pregnancy less likely.
  3. By causing your periods to become infrequent or light (oligomenorrhoea).
  4. By making it more difficult for you to become pregnant during assisted reproduction techniques (ART) such as IVF.
  5. By negatively affecting embryo development during pregnancy, making premature birth, low birth weight and miscarriages more likely.

You can see that it makes perfect sense to obtain a diagnosis if you suspect you might be suffering with thyroid disease but are not sure. If you are already diagnosed, we can help you take steps to reduce the risks of thyroid disease, both for your fertility and when you’re pregnant.

Thyroid Disease: Obtaining a Diagnosis

We can refer you for comprehensive blood tests if you’re not sure whether you have a thyroid disorder. A comprehensive blood test can tell us how efficiently thyroid hormone is being used by your body’s cells and tissues. It will also tell us whether you are suffering with an autoimmune thyroid disorder. With these facts at our disposal, we can then provide the right advice and care.

We believe in ordering a full thyroid blood panel when we refer you for blood tests. This means measuring TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, as well as anti-TPO and anti-TG antibodies. This information provides the most accurate idea of just how well your thyroid and thyroid hormone is functioning and is almost always more comprehensive than blood tests you will obtain through your GP practice. We are of course happy to inform your GP of results we obtain.

Optimizing Fertility and Protecting Your Pregnancy at Advance Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic, Hertford

Photo of pregnant women looking contentedIf you have a thyroid diagnosis, including a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease, Advance Clinic is there to help.

Our main treatment strategies are:

  1. Acupuncture therapy
  2. Chinese herbs
  3. Dietary, nutritional and other lifestyle advice

Our patients usually find these strategies highly effective for autoimmune thyroid disease, or where thyroid dysfunction is due to other factors such as nutrient deficiency.

Only 25% of the risk of developing autoimmunity appears due to genetic factors. 75% of the risk appears linked to environmental and lifestyle factors. Important environmental and lifestyle factors include nutritionally poor diets, excessive and prolonged emotional stress, poor sleep patterns, ongoing infections, and exposure to environmental toxins.

Anecdotal evidence, scientific evidence, as well as our experience of working with patients, suggests that positive lifestyle changes can have a major effect on reducing the symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease, especially when combined with the right type and dose of thyroid replacement hormone. That is, if you need to take replacement hormone. Not everyone does. We will of course provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of thyroid replacement hormone.

We support the lifestyle changes you make with effective acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can potentially help reduce your thyroid symptoms in the following ways:

  1. Photo of person receiving acupuncture needlesBy helping reduce pain and inflammation – both are commonly found in autoimmune disease, including thyroid disease.
  2. By helping balance immune system activity, although more research is required in this area. Balancing immune system activity means that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can potentially boost immunity when it is weak, but also reduce overactive immune responses, as is the case in autoimmunity.
  3. By helping reduce the common mental-emotional impact of thyroid disease, whether it be anxiety, depression and stress, or brain-fog and poor memory.

Addiitonally, in their review paper of 2010 presented in the scientific journal Gynaecological Endocrinology, researchers Lim and Wong stated that acupuncture might have the following benefits in improving gynaecological disorders and symptoms:

  1. By helping to increase blood flow to the ovaries.
  2. By improving menstrual cycle regularity and quality.
  3. By improving egg quality.

There’s so many ways Advance Clinic can help with your thyroid disorder. Get in touch with us today if better health is your goal.

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