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How Thyroid Disorders Affect Fertility

thyroid disorders and effects on fertility
Both male and female fertility depends on several major hormones, including the thyroid hormones. It is these particular hormones that are produced to assist in the development and function of various systems, including the reproductive system. Resembling the shape of a butterfly, the thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck. As a major portion of the endocrine system, this organ releases hormones through the bloodstream to regulate metabolism. Without a constant release of the hormones, levels can fluctuate which can affect the body’s systems.

What Are the Most Common Thyroid Disorders

As the thyroid produces hormones the body is dependent on, low or high levels of the thyroid hormone can cause various disorders. The most common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These autoimmune conditions can cause underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones known as triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). Infertility can be directly linked to either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism..

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed when a person has excessive levels of the thyroid hormone. Commonly referred to as an overactive thyroid, this condition may cause weight loss, heat sensitivity, excessive perspiration, heart palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia. Treatment involves prescribed medications to regulate the hormones by inhibiting the release of triiodothyronine and thyroxine.

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism occurs with a low release of thyroid hormone, usually known as an underactive thyroid. Most cases do not have accompanying symptoms but can cause dry skin, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, constipation, low libido, fatigue, and irregular menstrual periods. To properly treat hypothyroidism, physicians prescribe thyroid replacement therapy with medication to increase thyroid hormone levels.

How Thyroid Disorders Affect Fertility

Fertility is highly dependent on several factors, including the levels of thyroid hormones. Low and high levels can affect not only the female reproductive system but also male fertility as T3 and T4 is directly linked to sperm production.

Hyperthyroidism & Fertility

While research is still ongoing to pinpoint the reason hyperthyroidism has an adverse effect on fertility, the focus is on the excessive hormone levels and the ovaries in women. Overactive levels can cause issues in the regulation of the health of the placental, uterine, and ovarian tissues. Hyperthyroidism in men can impair the volume of semen as well as the density of the sperm. The size, shape, and motility of the sperm is highly dependent on regulation of thyroid hormone levels.

Hypothyroidism & Fertility

Hypothyroidism affects female fertility by directly interrupting the menstrual cycle which can lead to conception problems. During ovulation, the egg is not properly released from the ovaries due to low levels of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism can also cause male infertility because it is linked to irregular sperm morphology, erectile dysfunction, and low sexual desire. For a successful implantation, the movement of the sperm is just as important as the structure which is negatively affected with hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Disorders during Infertility Treatment

With the direct correlation between infertility and thyroid conditions, it is important to have an early diagnosis. During infertility treatments, bloodwork is conducted to test the thyroid stimulating hormone bloodwork (TSH). Treatment may reduce the risk of infertility, miscarriage, and physical and mental issues at birth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can thyroid problems make it hard to get pregnant?

Yes, it’s true, becoming pregnant can be difficult with thyroid problems. The effects of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can interfere with the menstrual cycle which needs to be regulated to predict the best time for insemination.

Can thyroid problems affect female fertility?

Yes, female infertility cases may have a direct or indirect link with existing thyroid problems. Low thyroid hormone levels can impede ovulation as can lead to health issues that cause hypothyroidism.

Can thyroid issues cause miscarriage?

Unfortunately, yes, thyroid diseases can have an adverse effect on a pregnancy if not properly treated with thyroid hormone replacement. Miscarriage, preterm delivery, and developmental issues at birth have been seen with thyroid problems during pregnancy.

Consult the Fertility Specialist at ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo

If you are experiencing infertility, you are not alone. Talk to one of the fertility specialists at ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo. We offer personalized fertility plans based on scientific evidence and research with compassion in a safe facility. Our fertility clinic offers comprehensive consultation bookings. Give us a call or send us an email and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our fertility services.


4271 King St East, Suite 200
Kitchener, ON
N2P 2X7

Working Hours

Monday-Friday: 7am-3pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8am-12pm

Contact Us

Phone: 519.650.0011
Fax: 519.650.0033