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 getting pregnant, 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.

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