Thyroid problems are one of the more common reasons for infertility. These problems fall into 3 categories: overactive (hyperthyroid, Graves’ disease), underactive (hypothyroid) or Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune thyroiditis). I will correct these problems in different ways depending on the type and cause of the problem.
What is Graves’ Disease?
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that results in high levels of circulating thyroid hormones.
What are the Symptoms of Graves’ Disease?
The symptoms of Graves’ disease include nervousness/anxiety, insomnia, heat intolerance, heart palpitations, and unexplained weight loss.
What Causes Graves’ Disease?
As with any autoimmune disorder, there is over-activity of the immune system. Possible triggers for this hyperactivity of the immune system include latent or low-grade infections, food sensitivities, lack of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, and vitamin/mineral imbalances.
Naturopathic Treatment of Graves’ Disease
Balance immune system function by addressing bacterial/viral/fungal infections, test for and remove food sensitivities from the diet, restore good bacteria to the gut and correct vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Hypothyroid means that you have an underactive or sluggish thyroid. Because the hormones that it produces regulate the function of every tissue and cell in your body if your thyroid isn’t working properly, neither will your ovaries.
What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
The symptoms of an underactive thyroid include weight gain, feeling cold, mental lethargy, hair loss, irregular periods, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, fatigue, low energy, dry skin, course dry hair, and/or weakness.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Good question! If your thyroid isn’t working, the most obvious reason may be a lack of the right vitamins and minerals. This gland needs iodine, selenium, copper, and tyrosine to function properly. Deficiencies of iodine, iron, selenium and zinc may impair its function. Other nutrient deficiencies usually observed in patients suffering from thyroid disease are protein deficiencies, vitamin A, C, B6, B5, B1 deficiencies and mineral deficiencies (phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium). *DO NOT supplement iodine without a naturopathic doctor’s supervision. Too much iodine can induce thyroid nodules and induce/aggravate Graves’ disease. While these deficiencies do sometimes occur, the more common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease.
Naturopathic Treatment for Hypothyroidism
As a naturopathic doctor, in the treatment of hypothyroidism, I would address any possible vitamin/mineral deficiencies, do blood work to determine whether there is Hashimoto’s disease and support the rest of the endocrine system.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, where the body is attacking and destroying thyroid tissue. Many of the patients that I see who are hypothyroid, have undiagnosed Hashimoto’s. Medical doctors rarely test for Hashimoto’s as the outcome of the test doesn’t influence the prescribed medication. Naturopathically, treatment does change when an underactive thyroid is due to Hashimoto’s. The emphasis of treatment then shifts similar to the approach for Graves’ disease: address all the factors that may have overstimulated the immune system causing it to attack a vital gland.
How do you test the thyroid?
The standard blood test for the thyroid is called TSH, which stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This hormone is produced by the pituitary to stimulate the gland to make its hormone, which is called T4 or thyroxine. T4 is then converted to T3 which is the more active form of the hormone. The normal range for TSH is 0.35-5.00 mIU/L. In infertility, TSH, free T3 and free T4 should be measured, as well as screening for anti-thyroid antibodies, anti -TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. In infertile women with basal TSH levels of 2.5 to 5.0 mIU/L, a TRH stimulation test should also be done to detect subclinical hypothyroidism that may require treatment to improve pregnancy outcomes. I can order some of these tests. If they haven’t been done, they should be.
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