Pregnancy is a beautiful and transformative journey for many women. However, the journey is more challenging than it looks; it comes with many changes in the body, including but not limited to hormonal fluctuations. As this time phase is crucial, looking over your thyroid function is necessary. Studies say that metabolic demand experiences a sudden boost during pregnancy, as the thyroid plays a vital role in regulating the body’s metabolism. The thyroid gland produces excessive hormones to meet the body’s demands, leading to hypothyroidism in pregnancy when it fails to produce enough hormones for the body to function properly.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that requires immediate action for your health. To keep you well-informed, we will explore the impact of hypothyroidism on pregnancy, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. But first, let’s shed light on understanding hypothyroidism. So, let’s get started!
Before diving into the specific details of hypothyroidism in pregnancy, let’s analyze the basics of this health condition. The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in front of the neck, produces hormones that regulate metabolism and play a crucial role in the body’s overall function. When the thyroid gland fails to produce enough of these hormones, it leads to hypothyroidism.
Shockingly, thyroid disease ranks second only to diabetes mellitus in terms of its impact on women during pregnancy. Poorly controlled thyroid disease can lead to complications, increasing pregnancy-related risks. Therefore, expectant mothers must seek treatment from a fertility specialist at the Best IVF Centre in Pune as a fundamental component of prenatal care, ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the foetus.
Prevalence of hypothyroidism in pregnancy
The prevalence of hypothyroidism in pregnancy is higher than in non-pregnant women. Hypothyroidism can be either overt or subclinical. The first condition increases TSH and decreases free T4 levels, while the latter one increases TSH levels and produces normal T4 levels. When it comes to affecting women, subclinical hypothyroidism occurs in 10% of all pregnant women.
Pregnancy puts extra demands on a woman’s thyroid gland. Your body needs more thyroid hormone to support both the mother and the developing fetus. Thus, women with hypothyroidism may experience worsening symptoms if they do not take immediate action for their health.
Related Blog – How to Control Thyroid during Pregnancy?
Hypothyroidism symptoms in pregnancy
Thyroid disease, like hypothyroidism, usually shows the common symptoms of pregnancy, making it almost impossible to determine the early stages of pregnancy. Hypothyroidism in pregnancy symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Feeling cold
- Dry skin and hair
There is also a possibility that some pregnant women with mild or early hypothyroidism may show no symptoms at all. Therefore, it is always best to consult a fertility expert, even in the initial stage, to discover hypothyroidism’s condition in pregnancy.
Looking over the early signs is not enough when you do not know the reasons. It is better to find out what hypothyroidism during pregnancy causes to plan your pregnancy healthily.
Causes of hypothyroidism in pregnancy
Several factors can cause hypothyroidism in pregnancy. For your direction, we have listed down some of the common causes:
In most cases, when pregnant women get diagnosed with hypothyroidism in such instances, pregnancy-related hormonal changes can affect the thyroid gland’s function, necessitating adjustments in medication dosage.
This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in pregnancy. It results when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the thyroid gland, reducing hormonal production.
Pregnant women may also develop hypothyroidism due to a lack of iodine. Iodine is known to be essential for the production of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid surgery or radiation:
If a woman has undergone thyroid surgery or radiation treatment in the past, this surely affects the thyroid function and leads to hypothyroidism, which becomes more crucial during pregnancy.
Certain medications, such as amiodarone or lithium, can interfere with thyroid hormone production and trigger hypothyroidism.
Pituitary or hypothalamic disorders:
In rare cases, pituitary gland or hypothalamus complications that regulate thyroid hormone production often lead to hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
Risk of hypothyroidism during pregnancy
During the first trimester, the fetus remains unable to produce thyroid hormones, so maternal thyroid hormones aid in neurodevelopment instead of the fetus. However, hypothyroidism is dangerous in pregnant women, and if not treated or identified at the earliest, it can lead to maternal and fetal complications.
These include abortion, premature births, stillbirths, and low weight.
These complications include gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, abruptio placenta, and postpartum haemorrhage.
This subclinical type of hypothyroidism might also have similar adverse effects, such as children born to a mother with untreated hypothyroidism being at risk of having low IQ scores and learning disabilities.
Now the question is, are you suffering from hypothyroidism? Why you should get worried if you are pregnant? And under what conditions you should consult a fertility specialist.
Hypothyroid Disorders in Pregnancy: Identifying High-Risk Groups
Pregnant women with any of the following conditions are perfect for thyroid testing:
- Living in the region of moderate to severe iodine deficiency
- Family or personal history of thyroid disease
- Age less than 30 years
- Prior thyroid surgery
- Multiple prior pregnancies
- Class 3 obesity
- Head and neck irradiation
- Recurrent miscarriage or preterm delivery
- Autoimmune disorder
- Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO)
Hypothyroid disorder in pregnancy is a serious issue that needs to be checked as early as possible. So, for a timely recovery, let’s look for the diagnosis and treatments available for hypothyroidism.
Diagnosing hypothyroidism in pregnancy involves blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels, specifically thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4). It’s important to note that pregnancy is a long journey that alters these hormone levels so that hormone levels can range from pregnant to non-pregnant women. Hence, getting a consultation with a specialized fertility expert to monitor your thyroid needs during pregnancy is necessary.
Managing hypothyroidism in pregnancy generally consists of medications, as the goal is to balance TSH levels within a specific range to ensure both the mother and the baby maintain a balanced thyroid hormone level. So, let’s look at the essential aspects of the treatment to receive success in return.
Essential aspects of the treatment
Regular Monitoring: Pregnant women with hypothyroidism need frequent monitoring to adjust medication dosages as their pregnancy progresses. Regular monitoring helps maintain thyroid hormone levels within the recommended range.
Dietary considerations: Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production, so make sure you balance your diet with the help of supplements or suggestive foods as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Thyroid health after pregnancy: After childbirth, thyroid function should be reassessed because some women may no longer require thyroid medication or may need dosage adjustments.
Whom to consult?
Hypothyroidism during pregnancy is a condition that requires careful management to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, focusing on regular prenatal care, including monitoring thyroid hormone levels is crucial. Women affected by pre-existing hypothyroidism should work closely with their healthcare providers to adjust their treatment plans as needed during pregnancy.
When diagnosed and managed effectively, women with hypothyroidism can have a successful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. For the best results, it’s essential to consult with an experienced team of fertility experts and reach out to the leading fertility chain of India; Crysta IVF. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and seeking guidance from a fertility specialist promptly can significantly increase your chances of a successful pregnancy.