Thyroid & Pregnancy

Thyroid health is very important when it comes to pregnancy,

Regardless of whether you’re already pregnant or trying to conceive.

Young man caressing the belly of a pregnant woman

Having Trouble Conceiving?

The problem may be your thyroid gland.

The proper reproductive health needed to get pregnant can be affected by hypothyroidism. In fact, some experts recommend that women having trouble getting pregnant have their TSH levels checked. If you have high TSH levels, you could have hypothyroidism.

Before turning to costly procedures like IVF, make sure your doctor conducts a TSH blood test to check your TSH levels. The good news is that with proper levothyroxine therapy, hypothyroidism may not have a major impact on fertility.

Already Pregnant?

It’s important to watch for thyroid disease when you’re expecting because pregnancy causes major changes in thyroid function.

An untreated, underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) may increase the risk of having a miscarriage or stillbirth. It can also put your unborn child at risk for learning disabilities or developmental problems.

Ask your doctor about getting a TSH blood test to see if your TSH levels are too high, as this is a sign of thyroid disease. If you do have hypothyroidism, getting treatment can help you and your baby.

Hypothyroidism & Planning To Get Pregnant

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, are currently being treated with levothyroxine and are planning a pregnancy, there are some important things that you should know.

  • Talk to your doctor about your pregnancy plans, as your medication dose may need to increase before you become pregnant.
  • Contact your doctor right away after a missed period (menstrual cycle) or positive home pregnancy test, as your dose of levothyroxine will likely need to be increased.
  • Experts strongly recommend that hypothyroidism should not be treated with desiccated thyroid during pregnancy.
  • You should have a TSH blood test every 4 weeks during the first half of your pregnancy and a TSH blood test at least once between Week 26 and 32 of your pregnancy.
  • After delivery, your dose of levothyroxine is usually reduced to what you were taking before your pregnancy.
  • A TSH blood test should usually be performed at about 6 weeks after giving birth.

Thyroid & Pregnancy Facts

Pregnancy causes major changes in thyroid function.

  • 1 in 200

    About 1 in 200 pregnant women have overt (complete) thyroid disease.
  • 5-10%

    Postpartum thyroiditis (PPT), which is closely related to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is found in about 5 to 10% of women in the postpartum period.

Both overt and subclinical hypothyroidism may have negative effects on pregnancy and fetal development, such as:

  • Increased incidence of miscarriage and preterm delivery
  • Potential damage to the development of the baby’s brain

Which Women Should Have A TSH Blood Test During Their Pregnancy?

Certain women should have a TSH blood test early in their pregnancy to detect thyroid disease.

A TSH blood test will reveal if your TSH levels are high. High TSH levels can be indicative of hypothyroidism.

They include women with:

  • Age above 30 years
  • A history of thyroid disease or prior thyroid surgery
  • A family history of thyroid disease
  • A goitre(an enlarged thyroid)
  • Thyroid antibodies
  • Symptoms of thyroid underfunction or overfunction, including low red blood cells (anemia), high cholesterol and low levels of sodium in the blood (hyponatremia)
  • Type I diabetes
  • Previous radiation therapy to the head or neck
  • A history of miscarriage or preterm delivery
  • Infertility
  • A BMI greater than or equal to 40 (being very overweight)
  • A need for amiodarone (a drug for irregular heartbeats), lithium or recent administration of iodinated contrast agent (often used during a CT scan)
  • Living in an area of known moderate to severe iodine insufficiency