Renuka (name changed), is a 27-year-old housewife. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over a year. While Renuka is a healthy woman, she does suffer from irregular periods. On her gynaecologist advice, Renuka got herself screened for Thyroid disorders. Was Hypothyroidism the reason for her not being able to conceive?
Did you know, like Renuka, nearly 27 percent of infertile women suffer from Hypothyroidism. And while thyroid disease is common in women of reproductive age, infertility is common in women having thyroid dysfunction.1
In fact, nearly 1 in 8 women suffer from thyroid diseases and are five to 10 times more likely to get hypothyroidism as compared to men.2What is Thyroid?
The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ, is responsible for producing fixed amounts of the thyroid hormone which regulates many bodily functions. These hormones are important for the metabolism, growth and development of the human body. Overproduction of these hormones leads to hyperthyroidism and underproduction leads to hypothyroidism. Both these imbalances can result in multiple symptoms in the human body.3
There are largely two major reasons behind infertility in Hypothyroid women:
- Undetected thyroid disease
- Untreated thyroid disease
Does Hypothyroidism cause infertility directly?
Hypothyroidism can cause infertility directly and indirectly. The direct process is explained as below:
While several studies also reveal that Hypothyroidism causes infertility indirectly by5,6:
- Causing irregularities in periods
-Infrequent periods (missed periods)
-Women got periods often (within 21 days) 7
– No release of eggs (from ovaries) in some women.5
- 33% women with PCOS have thyroid problem, which itself can cause irregularities in periods.6
Unfortunately, in such cases the success rate of getting pregnant even with in-vitro fertilisation (test tube baby) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (sperm donation) in women with Hypothyroidism is low.8
Early detection & treatment helps!
Yes, early diagnosis of Hypothyroidism could help treat infertility. According to a research, it was revealed that, after the treatment of Hypothyroidism, 76.6 percent of infertile women were able to conceive naturally.4
The indicators of Hypothyroidism
The symptoms of Hypothyroidism are often confused with other conditions. However, these symptoms develop gradually over a period of several years. Common signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism include tiredness, weight gain, feeling sad or depressed, heavier and/or more frequent menstrual periods, cramps, infertility (difficulty in getting pregnant), sexual dysfunction, more hair fall, need for more sleep.9,10
Hence, medical associations and guidelines across the globe recommend testing of thyroid functions (levels of thyroid hormones) in all women considering treatment for infertility11
“Most patients with primary Hypothyroidism don’t have the basic knowledge about the disease. If not treated or diagnosed on time, Hypothyroidism could negatively affect the health and well-being of an individual, causing infertility and difficulties in getting pregnant even by in-vitro fertilisation. However, the right treatment can increase one’s chances of getting pregnant to a great extent. DR (name of doctor)
Early diagnosis of Hypothyroidism could help prevent future complications. So, consult your doctor today.
- 1. Pushpagiri N, Gracelyn LJ, Nagalingam S. Prevalence of subclinical and overt hypothyroidism in infertile women. Int J Reprod Contracept Obstet Gynecol. 2015;4(6):1733-8.
- Thyroid disease[Internet]. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/thyroid-disease. Accessed on Aug 15, 2020.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does the thyroid gland work? 2010 Nov 17 [Updated 2018 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279388/.
- Verma I, Sood R, Juneja S, Kaur S. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in infertile women and evaluation of response of treatment for hypothyroidism on infertility. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2012;2(1):17-19.
- Jefferys A, Vanderpump M, Yasmin E. Thyroid dysfunction and reproductive health. Obstet Gynaecol. 2015;17:39–45.
- Shanmugham D, Natarajan S, Karthik A. Prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome: A cross sectional study. Int J Reprod Contracept Obstet Gynecol. 2018;7:3055-9.
- Ramya MR, Parvathavarthini, Savery D, et al. Menstrual disorders associated with thyroid dysfunction. Int J Reprod Contracept Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Nov;6(11):5113-5117.
- Zhang L, Yang X, Sun X, et al. Influence of hypothyroidism on in vitro fertilization outcomes. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2016;9(2):4551-4556
- Dunn D, Turner C. Hypothyroidism in Women. Nurs Womens Health. 2016;20(1):93-98.
- Dosiou C. Thyroid and Fertility: Recent Advances. THYROID. 2020;30(4):479-86.
- Alexander EK, Pearce EN, Brent GA, et al. 2017 Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association for the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy and the Postpartum. Thyroid. 2017;27(3):315-89.