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Hypothyroidism - Can It Hamper Your IVF Chances?

Written and reviewed by
MCH - Reproductive Medicine & Surgery, MS - Obstetrics & Gynaecology
IVF Specialist, Chennai  •  9 years experience
Hypothyroidism - Can It Hamper Your IVF Chances?

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. This is responsible for producing the thyroid hormone that in turn helps regulate metabolism and other bodily functions. The production of less than normal amounts of thyroid hormone is termed as hypothyroidism. Stress, food intolerance, an unhealthy lifestyle and immune system disorders are some of the factors that could contribute to hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include

  1. Fatigue
  2. Weight gain
  3. Eczema
  4. Cramps and menstrual irregularities

In mild cases, there may be no visible effects on the person but in severe cases, it can reduce ovulation or cause the ovulation to stop completely. This can result in infertility. Hypothyroidism can also put a woman at a high risk of having a miscarriage.

Infertility can be treated in a number of ways. One of the most common amongst them is IVF or In Vitro Fertilization. This procedure involves stimulating the woman’s ovaries to produce eggs, harvesting them and combining them with sperm cells from the male partner in a laboratory. This increases the chances of forming an embryo. 2 or 3 of the healthiest embryos formed are then reinserted into the woman’s womb. When the embryo is successfully implanted, the woman may then carry the pregnancy to full term.

Many women who undergo IVF treatment give birth to twins or triplets. IVF typically has a very high success rate but when it comes to women suffering from hypothyroidism, this may not be the best course of treatment. This is because hypothyroidism can also prevent the embryos from being successfully implanted in the uterus.

For this reason, a thyroid test is essential before inserting the embryos into the uterus. This can be done with a simple blood test to measure the level of thyroid hormone in the blood. This test is known as a TSH test. Normal TSH levels range from 0.3 to 3.0 mIU/L. If the levels are unacceptable, medication will be prescribed to help regulate them. Dietary changes may also be required. Once the levels are within the normal range, the embryos can be inserted.

Women suffering from hypothyroidism must have regular checkups for the entire duration of their pregnancy. This will help doctors identify potential problems early and deal with them before they can affect the growing fetus. Even after giving birth, the woman should get her thyroid levels checked regularly while she is nursing the baby.

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