Testing Your Thyroid

Thyroid issues can be linked to infertility. Many women may be unaware that they are experiencing thyroid-related fertility problems. Wondering if you are one of those women? If you are having trouble conceiving, check out these following two categories:

Category A (Hypothyroid):
– I have trouble losing weight or I gain weight easily.
– I am often constipated.
– I frequently feel sluggish or depressed.
– My joints and muscles ache.
– I hate winter and often feel cold, even when others don’t.

Category B (Hyperthyroid):
– I can’t keep weight on or I lose weight easily.
– I have trouble sleeping.
– I often feel moody, nervous, or irritable.
– My heart beats quickly or irregularly.
– I dread summer because I always feel so hot.

If you fit into one of these categories, and are having trouble getting pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor to see if your thyroid is affecting your fertility. Even if you don’t have the symptoms listed above, a thyroid test may help your doctor identify or rule out possible causes of your infertility. Some people with thyroid disorders may have only a few symptoms, if any at all. On the other hand, many of us have symptoms like those listed above and do not have thyroid problems. Your doctor can tell you more.

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.