Have you been trying to become pregnant but have been unsuccessful? If so, then the first thing you should evaluate is your hormone status. When your hormones are out of balance, your body is not able to function optimally, which is why hormonal imbalance is a common cause of infertility in women. When you are trying to conceive, it is important to replenish and balance your hormones first. Let’s take a look at how progesterone and thyroid hormones affect fertility.
Progesterone Deficiency Causes Infertility
Progesterone is necessary to balance estrogen. If estrogen is not balanced with progesterone, then women may develop infertility, endometriosis, skipped periods, heavy bleeding and fibroids, all of which hinder their chances of becoming pregnant. Progesterone is necessary for proper thyroid function, which also affects fertility.
Progesterone production from the corpus luteum is critical for natural reproduction and progesterone supplementation seems to be an important aspect of any assisted reproductive treatment. Progesterone is important for the process of implantation and early embryonic development. (4) Luteal phase deficiency is a condition of insufficient progesterone exposure to maintain a normal secretory endometrium and allow for normal embryo implantation and growth.(4) Luteal phase deficiency in natural cycles is a plausible cause of infertility and pregnancy loss.(1) The condition was first described as a possible cause of infertility by Georgiana Seegar Jones in 1949. (2) Luteal phase deficiency has been implicated as a cause of irregular menstrual bleeding, infertility, and recurrent pregnancy loss. (1,3)
Progesterone Prevents Miscarriage
Progesterone deficiency can lead to miscarriage.(3) Progesterone enables the body to maintain a pregnancy. It makes possible the survival of the fertilized egg by promoting the implantation. Progesterone also maintains the lining of the womb which feeds the developing embryo.
Optimal Thyroid Function is Necessary for Pregnancy
Many women and doctors do not realize that optimal thyroid function is necessary for fertility. Despite the fact that millions of women in the U.S. have undiagnosed hypothyroidism, which can prevent their ability to get pregnant, women with infertility are not told that their first step should be a thorough thyroid evaluation. Having optimal levels of thyroid hormone is critical for conception and a healthy pregnancy. It is essential to the ability to become pregnant, and must be maintained in order to sustain a healthy pregnancy, even in the earliest days after conception.
Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility. Hypothyroidism can affect fertility due to anovulatory cycles, luteal phase defects, hyperprolactinemia, and sex hormone imbalance. Hypothyroidism treatment for 3 months to 1 year can be of great benefit to conceive in asymptomatic infertile women.(5) Thyroid evaluation should be done in any woman who wants to get pregnant with family history of thyroid problems, irregular menstrual cycles, had more than two miscarriages or is unable to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse.(5)
Prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s, is significantly higher among infertile women than among fertile women, especially among those whose infertility is caused by endometriosis or ovarian dysfunction. Presence of thyroid autoimmunity does not interfere with normal embryo implantation, but the risk of early miscarriage is substantially raised. Subclinical and overt forms of hypothyroidism are associated with increased risk of pregnancy-related morbidity, for which thyroxine therapy can be beneficial. Systematic screening for thyroid disorders in pregnant women might be advantageous in women at high risk, particularly infertile women. (6)
Untreated or improperly treated hypothyroidism can affect fertility in a number of ways:
- Anovulation/Anovulatory Cycles: Thyroid is essential for the healthy development of the egg, or ovulation. In an anovulatory cycle, where you don’t release an egg, you can still have a period.
- Luteal Phase Defect: Some women with untreated or undertreated hypothyroidism have a short luteal phase, which is the time frame between ovulation and the onset of menstruation. Because this is the time when a fertilized egg properly implants in the uterus, if it’s too short, the egg won’t implant securely, and ends up leaving the body at the same time menstruation would occur.
- High Prolactin Levels: Hypothyroidism can also cause an increase in prolactin, the hormone produced by the pituitary gland that induces and maintains the production of breast milk. Excess prolactin has a negative effect on fertility. This can cause irregular ovulation or anovulation, interfere with a regular menstrual cycle, and even cause milk production in women who are not breastfeeding.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal problems that can interfere with fertility can also result from hypothyroidism, including decreased sex hormone binding globulin; estrogen dominance; and progesterone deficiency. Any of these imbalances can interfere with proper reproductive hormone balance.
Optimal Thyroid Function = Healthy Baby
Optimizing your thyroid status reduces the risk of low IQ babies, pregnancy induced hypertension, low birth weight newborns, postpartum hemorrhage, stillbirths, placental abruption and congenital malformations. In addition, optimal thyroid function is required in order for the entire hormonal system to function properly.
So before you spend your money on costly fertility treatments, find out if your hormones are out of balance first. Use bioidentical progesterone and natural desiccated thyroid to correct progesterone deficiency and low thyroid function to bring your body back into balance. Take our health quiz to find out if hormonal imbalance is the cause of your infertility. Balancing your hormones may be all you need to do in order to get a visit from the stork!
1. Progesterone and the Luteal Phase
2. Some Newer Aspects of the Management of Infertility
3. Progesterone Implantation in Habitual Abortion
4. The Clinical Relevance of Luteal Phase Deficiency: A Committee Opinion
5. Prevalence of Hypothyroidism in Infertile Women and Evaluation of Response of Treatment for Hypothyroidism on Infertility
6. The Role of Thyroid Autoimmunity in Fertility and Pregnancy