The joy of every marriage is that after a couple of months or years, a baby is not only conceived but born especially for a couple that is ready to start a family. But some couples find it really difficult to conceive. Some, due to known reasons while others due to unknown reason. This is what is called ‘unexplained infertility’. That is, after several diagnoses, fertility experts are unable to point out what might be responsible for the couple’s inability to conceive.

This can be a source of serious concern and worry for a couple especially after multiple doctor visits and expensive treatments.

A recent research in fertility shows that the Thyroid hormone produced in the body may have a key role to play when it comes to unexplained infertility. According to a study in the journal published by Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, women who have unexplained infertility were nearly twice as likely to have higher levels of a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland than women who did not conceive due to known issues with their male partner’s sperm count.

What does this mean? This simply means that, women with unexplained infertility have higher TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormones) levels compared to women experiencing infertility due to a known cause. This condition is known as Hypothyroidism (a underactive thyroid)
The prevalence of thyroid dysfunction is relatively high in the general population and is usually undiagnosed.

But you may ask, ‘what is the Thyroid hormone and how does it affect fertility?

The Thyroid gland is located near the front of the throat, just below the voice box & just above the collar bones. This gland produces the thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland at the base of the brain then releases the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone which stimulates the Thyroid gland to produce the Thyroid hormones. There is usually an interaction between your Thyroid hormones and your reproductive hormones, the oestrogen and progesterone, to ensure normal function of the ovaries and maturation of the egg. If your Thyroid gland releases too much or too little thyroid hormones, the reproductive hormones becomes imbalanced. This results in infertility problems such as ovulation disorders, irregular periods, and trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term. This a common endocrine disorder in women of childbearing age.

But this problem relates to men also. For men, it can result in low testosterone production, a lower libido, poor testicular function, erectile dysfunction as well as low  sperm numbers and motility.

Another important question that may pop up in your mind is, ‘how would I know if I have a underactive thyroid?

There are some symptoms that is associated with underactive thyroid. They include :

  • Chilliness
  • Sluggishness or weakness
  • Depression and tiredness often called chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Uncontrollable weight gain.
  • Dry skin.
  • Constipation.
  • Menstrual problems; increased menstrual flow.
  • Miscarriage
  • Diagnosed infertility

The end point of this study therefore Is that there’s an association between the level of TSH in the body and unexplained infertility and a good thyroid function is necessary for fertility, the ability to conceive and to maintain a pregnancy.
This could open up new avenues for possible treatments. The next step will be to see if lowering TSH levels will help couples like this conceive. But along with every standard preconception test, ensure that your thyroid is at its best and is functioning properly.

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