Thyroid & Pregnancy: Things You Need to Know


Are you tired exhausted, restless, achy, and forgetful? Are you putting on weight, getting pimples, or swelling up? You are pregnant, so of course you are! Even while pregnant women frequently experience these symptoms, they are rarely also indicators of a thyroid issue. How then can your doctor distinguish between the two?


Your doctor will perform a quick blood test if you've never had a thyroid condition identified but are showing its symptoms (particularly if thyroid disease runs in your family). Fortunately, thyroid conditions can be safely addressed throughout pregnancy with medicine, lowering any dangers to you or your unborn child.


What Does a Thyroid do?


The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is situated on the front of your neck and wraps around the front of your windpipe. The thyroid is essential for producing hormones that support bodily functions. It controls your body's metabolism, muscular tone, brain growth, bone health, as well as cardiac and digestive functions. These hormones are regularly released by the body to maintain balance. It is well known that thyroid issues are genetic, with heredity thought to have a factor in 15 to 20 percent of hypothyroidism cases. Additionally, they may be brought on by abnormalities in specific genes involved in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.


When the gland produces either too few or too many hormones, thyroid issues often follow. When this occurs, a thyroid issue may be diagnosed. A thyroid problem is considered as pre-existing if it develops prior to becoming pregnant. Thyroid issues can appear in some mothers during their first pregnancy or soon after giving birth.


Even though thyroid disorders can be complex to manage, being pregnant makes it even harder. Untreated thyroid conditions during pregnancy can result in an early birth and other issues. Here is all the information you require regarding thyroid disorders during pregnancy.


Basics


The thyroid gland, which is situated at the front of the neck, creates hormones that regulate the rate at which your body utilises energy, builds proteins, and regulates your sensitivity to other hormones. A common thyroid condition called hypothyroidism results from the thyroid not producing enough hormones. Depression, lethargy, and weight gain are all symptoms of this illness. When the thyroid generates too much hormone, it is said to be hyperthyroid, which results in symptoms like anxiety and a rapid heartbeat.


Your doctor will most likely want to perform blood tests to check your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine throughout your pregnancy if you have a thyroid disorder (T4). Your doctor can recommend medication to help bring one or both of these levels back into the normal range if they are high.


Manage the Condition Before Getting Pregnant


If you have hypothyroidism, you might need to start taking medication before trying to conceive. This is because hypothyroidism raises the possibility of miscarriage and affects both male and female fertility. Untreated hypothyroidism increases a woman's risk of giving birth to children who have birth abnormalities or developmental delays.


Before getting pregnant, if you have hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), you should seek medication because the condition has been related to stillbirths and miscarriages.


Due to the potential impact that increased thyroid hormone levels have on the growth and development of your unborn child, you will also require treatment while pregnant.


How does pregnancy affect thyroid levels?


Estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), two pregnancy hormones you're probably already very familiar with, raise your thyroid hormone levels while you're expecting.


Similar to TSH, hCG increases the production of thyroid hormones during the first trimester. Increased oestrogen levels also during pregnancy result in the production of a hormone that aids in the transportation of thyroid hormones in the blood. The thyroid's volume could increase by 10-15% by the third trimester. This is all normal.


Hypothyroidism Risks During Pregnancy


Pregnancy-related hypothyroidism, if untreated, can result in:

  • Birth prematurely

  • Preeclampsia (a severe increase in blood pressure)

  • Miscarriage

  • Low birth weight

  • For the mother, anaemia

  • Stillbirth

  • In rare cases, the mother's congestive heart failure

After talking with you about your symptoms, your doctor will take a blood sample to measure your TSH and T4 levels (a thyroid hormone).


Identifying the Symptoms


Thyroid tests might be more challenging to interpret when you're expecting for the two reasons mentioned above as well as the fact that many symptoms of a healthy pregnancy and a thyroid problem (like fatigue) are alike.


Understanding your risk factors and symptoms will help you receive medical treatment if required. Thyroid hormones are essential for the healthy development of your baby's brain and nervous system, especially during the first trimester when his thyroid has not yet fully developed and he is entirely dependent on you for thyroid hormone.


Some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Nervousness

  • Palpitations

  • Increased sweating

  • Weight loss

  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping

  • Diarrhea

Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Tiredness

  • Constipation/diarrhoea (alternating)

  • Swelling around the face, neck, feet, and hands

  • Fatigued and unable to handle the cold

  • Squeaky voice

  • Changes to the skin and hair, such as dry skin and eyebrow loss

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (hand pain)

  • Slow heartbeat

  • Muscle pain

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irregular menstrual periods

Treating Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy


Your doctor will prescribe medicine if you have hyperthyroidism to treat the disease. Continue taking any medications you are currently taking until after giving birth. Consult your doctor about other possibilities if this is not a viable choice for you. For the treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy, they could suggest surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.


Treating Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy


Your doctor could advise thyroid hormone replacement therapy during pregnancy if you have hypothyroidism. This can help you maintain control over your symptoms while also ensuring your baby's healthy growth and development. Maintaining a TSH level between 2 and 3 is the purpose of treatment, thus you'll probably require higher levothyroxine dosages (Thyroid). If you have a history of miscarriage or other difficulties with prior pregnancies, you might also require higher doses.


Talk to Your Doctor


Discuss your plans for becoming pregnant with your doctor. They will support the successful pregnancy by assisting in bringing your hormone levels under control. Get your tests done if you're already pregnant to determine how well your issue is being controlled. If not, talk to your doctor and begin your treatment right away.


Thyroid problems can complicate pregnancy, as was previously mentioned. But it's not necessary! Early intervention can assure a trouble-free pregnancy and a healthy baby.


When to Contact An Endocrinologist


Thyroid diseases are difficult to identify in pregnant women due to higher thyroid hormone levels and symptoms that are similar to pregnancy. Your thyroid won't likely be examined unless you have a prior medical history, are at high risk, or exhibit symptoms of a thyroid disorder. Here are some indications to be on the alert for:

  • Thyroid problem history

  • History of autoimmune diseases in the family

  • Diabetes type 1

  • Experience with high-dose neck radiation

If you have queries or worries regarding your thyroid or hormones before or during pregnancy, get in touch with us. Throughout your pregnancy, we will provide you with support and, if we detect a hormonal issue, we will refer you to an endocrinologist.