I am excited to publish this 3 part series of blog posts about pregnancy, infertility and Hashimoto’s. This will also relate to those just suffering from hyper or hypothyroidism. I will give more details on the pre-conception period, prenatal nutrition, and postnatal nutrition!
Six months ago, I gave birth to a super cute, healthy little girl. I was very surprised how I glided through the pregnancy and postnatal time period without any major thyroid problems. VERY surprised. I am grateful for that and feel like I lucked out. I had read about thyroid complications postnatally, and many possible dangers during pregnancy. I researched and read as much as I could as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and there is not a lot of clear information out there. But, I did learn a lot, and I am excited to share with you my knowledge! *This blog post is not intended for medical advice.*
Why Many Women Experience Infertility with Thyroid Dysfunction
It’s all about the hormones. If thyroid hormones are low, your body can not produce enough sex hormones to maintain regular menstrual cycles. Or, if you do get regular cycles, you may still not have enough hormone to sustain a pregnancy or conceive.
For me, I noticed my progesterone was always on the low side and I had very irregular (mostly nonexistent) cycles. I figured the chances of getting pregnant were very slim. I was wrong! I had been working to improve my health for about 2.5-3 years and that is what helped my body acheive healthy hormone levels. I also take Nature-Throid.
Many women have low T3 even with no doctor diagnosed thyroid disease. Little (big) things like stress can even cause low hormones. T3 is critical since it is the most “active” thyroid hormone and this is the hormone that “talks” to other parts of the body allowing fertility to run along smoothly.
Know Your MTHFR Status
MTH-what?? Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase = MTHFR. Certain MTHFR gene mutations can cause fertility problems and very few people know to test this. Yet, an estimated 40-60% of the total population has some type of gene mutation myself included. This topic by itself is a blog post for another day. The reason I bring it up is that I find many with thyroid dysfunction or Hashimoto’s have one of the MTHFR gene mutations.
To oversimplify, if you have one of the gene variants that alters your body’s ability to use B vitamins it will reduce fertility. Your body is less able to create methione which is needed for critical body functions and fertility. The good news is that this is something that is easily treated with various forms and types of B vitamin supplementation. There are other supplements that are often recommended as well (again, more on this subject later). If your B vitamin levels are not healthy, this can set you up for a risk for miscarriage, spina bifida in baby, postpartum depression, low levels of glutathione (master antioxidant) and much more.
Optimize Your Nutrient Status
…and reduce total body inflammation. Take a good quality multivitamin. No brick pills! Capsules and reputable, tested brands only. I took Designs for Health Prenatal Pro throughout my entire pregnancy. Do not simply rely on your vitamins though. Make sure to eat nutrient rich foods. One of the easiest ways is smoothie form. You can add loads of nutrients AND make it taste delish.
I ditched gluten about 2-2.5 years before I got pregnant. I also began following my LEAP MRT plan to reduce inflammation in my body. Lastly, I tested my micronutrients in my body to see how I was doing with my vitamins and mineral stores. Over those two years or so, I got healthier. This made my body run more efficiently, improved my metabolism, and without even realizing, it made my body fertile.
Easier said than done.
However, reducing stress helps your body reach higher levels of that free T3 I was talking about. Optimal T3 = more optimal fertility.
I found pole dancing as a sport and fitness activity during this time period when I was trying to improve my health and thyroid levels. Pole dancing was an activity that allowed me to be free and stress free. I loved it, and it was a sport that made me more alive. I used to run and do general workouts, but running was still likely causing some stress on my body. My advice: find a stress reducing activity that you truly love and it will improve your life regardless. Just get out there and do it.
Fertility Basic Checklist:
- Screen for low progesterone
- Get a full thyoid panel including free T3
- Test your MTHFR gene (and/or homocysteine)
- Optimize your nutrient stores
- Reduce stress
Ther are other areas to address, but this is just a general checklist that will be suitable for most thyroid sufferers. Each person is a unique individual, so I never like to recommend a one size fits all approach.
If you would like more information on any of these topics, let me know down in the comments below. This helps me to create future blog posts for you all!
Part 2: Prenatal Thyroid Nutrition — Coming Soon!