Testing and Treatment for Thyroid Fertility Problems

Testing and Treatment for Thyroid Fertility Problems Testing and Treatment for Thyroid Fertility Problems

If you are struggling with infertility, ask your doctor to check your thyroid hormone levels. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can cause fertility problems and increase your risk of miscarriage. Thyroid-related fertility problems can include:
- Ovulation disorders
- Irregular periods
- Trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term

Unfortunately, signs of thyroid problems are not always easy to spot.

How the thyroid works
Your thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your throat. The thyroid gland works with the pituitary gland as part of the endocrine system. The pituitary gland, which is located in your brain, produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH triggers the thyroid to produce two different hormones, T3 and T4. When the thyroid produces too much or too little of these hormones (T3 and T4), thyroid problems can occur, including fertility problems.

Thyroid testing
Your doctor can do a simple TSH test to check your thyroid hormone levels. Normally, TSH levels fall between 0.5 to 5 mU/ml. If your TSH levels are high, your thyroid will not produce enough thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). If your TSH level is low, than your body produces too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Abnormal readings may prompt your doctor to run other tests to check your T3 or T4 levels.

Where to get help
To start the thyroid test process, you may want to see an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect your glands, like the thyroid. If you choose to work with an endocrinologist, ask him or her to communicate with your fertility specialist or OB/GYN regarding your diagnosis and treatment.

Treating thyroid disorders
Some doctors choose to simply monitor their patients when their thyroid hormone levels are only slightly abnormal. Other doctors take a more proactive approach. Ask your doctor if he or she will treat your thyroid problem more aggressively if you are having trouble getting pregnant. If you have hypothyroidism, you may need to take thyroid hormone supplements. Conversely, women with hyperthyroidism will need drug treatment to decrease levels of thyroid hormones in the body.

Find out more about the symptoms of thyroid disorders here.

Medically reviewed by Kristen Wright, M.D. from Reproductive Science Center of New England, February 2011.