Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is a common reason why some women may find it difficult to conceive or indeed maintain a pregnancy. However it is a condition that can be easily diagnosed and treated. The key is recognising that you may have a thyroid problem and getting help.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland that partially surrounds your wind pipe. The thyroid produces the hormone thyroxine that is so crucial for fertility. You can find out more about your thyroid gland here.
Signs and Symptoms of hypothyroidism
• Low body temperature
• Weight gain
• Slow pulse rate
• Goitre (protruding thyroid)
• Menstrual cycle disturbances
• Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
• Low libido
• Memory loss
• Slow metabolism
• Dry skin and hair
• Hair loss
Hypothroidism and conception
Women with hypothyroidism find conceiving difficult due to the disturbances of the menstrual cycle and ovulation. Thyroid problems are generally diagnosed by blood tests looking directly at the thyroid hormones. Some women may be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, which is an autoimmune condition. Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by the presence of thyroid antibodies on blood screening.
How to look after your thyroid.
• Enjoy anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables and fruit and smaller amounts of healthy proteins, good fats and whole grain.
• Get a good natural intake of iodine such as through seafood, dairy, eggs and strawberries
• Add selenium in to your diet through eating brazil nuts, dairy, eggs, green vegetables, tomatoes and mushrooms
• Take a zinc supplement (also excellent for healthy sperm in men) or enjoy whole grains, peas, carrots and cucumbers.
• Ensure your diet is rich in Omega 3 by eating fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel at least twice per week.
• Get a good intake of vitamins either by taking a prenatal supplement or ideally through a healthy balanced diet.
• Seek advice from a qualified herbalist or nutritionist for advice on herbal remedies such as Maca, Vitex, Schisandra and Asian Ginseng that may offer some thyroid support.
What to avoid
• High intake of salt
• Raw vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale etc
• Processed or gluten foods, unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars
If you are struggling to conceive, have experienced early miscarriages or notice the symptoms listed above, see your doctor to discuss possible investigations. Your doctor can take a full thyroid hormone panel to assess your thyroid levels and if necessary commence treatment to balance your thyroid and therefore help you to conceive. Consider how you can naturally support your thyroid and with your doctor’s permission seek the advice of a qualified professional to look at natural supplements that may be beneficial.