This post was previously published on the Arc Fertility blog
Thinking about Pregnancy? Think about your Thyroid!
Fertility specialists have long noticed a relationship between thyroid disorders and reproductive health issues including irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant, and multiple miscarriages early in pregnancy. During Thyroid Awareness Month and with new research, it’s worth knowing about a not uncommon and treatable problem that may be affecting your plans for a new family.
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may be present even in healthy young women and can affect reproduction at every stage from conception, poor fetal growth, premature birth and stillbirth. Not having enough thyroid hormone, for example, may affect ovulation and embryo development. It may also signal an underlying autoimmune disorder that affects fertility.
New research published in January found the 2.3 percent of women with fertility problems had an overactive thyroid compared to 1.5 percent of the general population. While the research did not prove a cause and effect relationship, the report’s authors suggest testing for thyroid disease should be considered for women experiencing fertility issues.
The research confirms the experience of reproductive endocrinologists such as Tomer Singer, M.D. of Lenox Hill in New York City who over the past two decades has noticed problems for women with an under-or-overactive thyroid. He and other fertility specialists support routine screening for thyroid problems at the start of trying to get pregnant — especially if there have been multiple miscarriages — and when seeking fertility treatment.
If you have a thyroid condition — no matter how mild — monitoring and treatment of your condition should be a part of addressing your infertility with your doctor or specialist. If you are not seeing a fertility specialist and become pregnant, let your doctor know right away. Close monitoring of your thyroid hormone level during pregnancy can reduce the risk of miscarriage, promote normal fetal development and may improve the health of the baby.
There are many possible explanations for infertility and having a thyroid disorder is one. In this case, screening is easy and treatment is simple and safe during pregnancy. We thought you’d want to know this month and all year long.
David Adamson is Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Reproductive Care (ARC Fertility), the largest national network fertility company in the United States, as well as a reproductive endocrinologist, surgeon and Medical Director of Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Fertility Physicians of Northern California. He is Clinical Professor, ACF at Stanford University School of Medicine and Associate Clinical Professor at University of California San Francisco. He is Past President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), AAGL (formerly American Association of Gynecological Laparoscopists), Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS), Society of Reproductive Surgeons (SRS) and several other major gynecological societies. He is Chair of the Committee on Reproductive Medicine for the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO), the International Committee Monitoring ART (ICMART) and President of the World Endometriosis Research Foundation (WERF). He is an Executive Board member of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Co-Chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Rapid Assessment Task Force on Infertility and Board member of the Montalvo Arts Center. He is a member of many prestigious professional societies including the American Gynecological Society (AGOS), the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI) and the Society for Gynecological Surgeons (SGS). He has been a board member and advisor to government, industry, professional and patient organizations, including National RESOLVE where he served both as a local board member for 8 years and then national board member for 10 years. He has over 300 peer-reviewed and other scientific/medical publications, and has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on assisted reproductive technologies, endometriosis, reproductive surgery and infertility. He has been recognized as one of the best 400 physicians for women in America, received the Outstanding Achievement in Medicine award from the Santa Clara County Medical Society, and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for contributions to the community. In 2015 he received the Barbara Eck Founders Award from RESOLVE for leadership in the field of infertility, years of service to RESOLVE and dedication to the patient community.
Dr. Adamson recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with his son.