Thyroid disease can have significant effects on fertility, pregnancy, suggests a new review

Thyroid disease can have significant effects on fertility, pregnancy, suggests a new review

Research has found that thyroid disease can have significant implications on fertility and pregnancy and women presenting reproductive health issues should be screened for thyroid problems.


Thyroid hormones help control the metabolism and these same hormones also play a role in growth and development, in particular brain development. Therefore changes in the thyroid can contribute to problems in regards to reproduction prior, during and after conception.

Thyroid disease can either be an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). The recent review of literature explored both thyroid diseases and how they play a role in fertility and pregnancy complications.

The review uncovered that nearly 2.3 percent of women presenting fertility problems had hyperthyroidism. In hyperthyroidism menstrual cycles can become irregular and in hypothyroidism it can delay sexual maturity as well as lead to menstrual problems and lack of ovulation as an adult.

Complications as found in the study review from hyperthyroidism include preterm delivery, pre-clampsia, growth restriction, heart failure and stillbirth.

Thyroid diseases in women

Women are more likely to develop thyroid diseases then men and it can affect their health in numerous ways including:

  • Problems with menstrual cycles including irregular menstruation, heavy menstrual cycles or light, and even delay ovulation
  • Difficulties getting pregnant because ovulation is affected
  • Problems during pregnancy including pre-clampsia, growth restriction and stillbirth

Thyroid disorder symptoms

Thyroid-disorder-symptomsThyroid disorders can commonly be mistaken for other ailments so it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of them. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism present different symptoms detailed below.

Hypothyroidism symptoms:

  • Feeling cold even if others do not
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Feeling very tired
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Slow heart rate
  • Less sweating than usual
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarse voice
  • More than usual menstrual bleeding

Hyperthyroidism symptoms:

  • Weight loss even without trying
  • Eating more than usual
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trembling of hands and fingers
  • Increased sweating
  • Feeling hot when others do not
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements
  • Fewer or lighter menstrual cycles
  • Changes in your eyes including bulging, redness or irritation

Cholesterol levels may also become affected which can increase the risk of heart disease.

A physical exam and presenting symptoms to a doctor can help them better diagnose a thyroid disease. There are specific tests your doctor can perform to check thyroid function which can determine proper mode of treatment.

Related Reading

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Grave’s disease increases the risk of hyperthyroidism and goiters. Grave’s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism – a condition where the thyroid overproduces hormones that can have negative consequences on the body, such as speeding up the metabolism, sudden weight loss and an irregular heartbeat. Continue reading…


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.