If you are unable to have children, think about your thyroid

If you are unable to have children, think about your thyroid

If the desired child does not materialize, many couples undertake a veritable treatment odyssey. It is often overlooked that the cause of infertility is not in the abdomen but in the neck area: a disorder of the thyroid gland. Professor Gerhard Hintze, Bad Oldesloe, pointed out this connection for the Thyroid Forum: “Both an overactive and an underactive thyroid gland can permanently disrupt conception”. Affected women are less likely to get pregnant and are more likely to suffer miscarriages, the expert continues. The difficulties could largely be avoided if the disease is discovered and treated. With an early diagnosis of thyroid disorders, expensive procedures for the treatment of unwanted childlessness are sometimes unnecessary. Given this area’s limited health insurance benefits, it is worthwhile for those affected to think about the thyroid gland.

thyroid hormones

With its hormones, the thyroid controls vital processes throughout the body, including fertility and reproduction. Thyroid and sex hormones such as estrogen are closely related and influence each other. If the thyroid hormones are out of balance, the female hormones also go haywire: Ovulation and menstrual bleeding can no longer function normally.

If a woman then wants to become pregnant, the chances are slim. Above all, an underactive thyroid gland ( hypothyroidism ) can mean that the long-awaited child does not come. Hyperfunction ( hyperthyroidism ) also disrupts conception, but not quite as often. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid gland has an even more dramatic effect on the course of pregnancy if it remains untreated: miscarriages, premature births or deformities in the child can occur here.

Furthermore, the body’s defences can play a trick on fertility: In around six to ten per cent of all women, the immune system forms antibodies against their thyroid glands. This so-called autoimmune disease does not always have to be noticeable at first glance. However, women who have such thyroid antibodies in their blood are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as other women. In the case of artificial insemination (in vitro fertilization), the chances of a successful pregnancy are also significantly worse.


thyroid tests

Disorders of the thyroid function can often only be discovered through a targeted examination. Many affected women who want to become pregnant do not yet know anything about the fertility blockage caused by their thyroid gland. It is, therefore, essential for all women with an unfulfilled desire to have children or previous miscarriages: The thyroid function should be checked by a doctor with a blood test.

Certain thyroid hormones, especially the so-called TSH, and the thyroid antibodies are measured. Women who are already suffering from another autoimmune disorder or have family members who are affected should also be tested. Autoimmune diseases include, for example, a particular form of diabetes (type I diabetes mellitus). The tests involve little effort and can quickly illuminate a possible cause of childlessness.

So before complex and expensive gynaecological treatments are started, the thyroid gland should always be examined thoroughly, and any malfunctions should be treated if necessary. As a rule, this is possible so that nothing stands in the way of a pregnancy.

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