Disturbance in hormonal secretions of your body can cause issues such as weight gain, acne, inflammation, and mood swings. But did you know that an imbalance of thyroid hormones can also affect your pregnancy? This is why you must learn about thyroid disorders and their treatment if you’re pregnant.
During the first few months of your pregnancy, the fetus depends on you for hormones. Uncontrolled thyroid levels in pregnant women can cause high blood pressure, anemia, muscle cramps, etc. Sometimes pregnancy can also trigger other thyroid problems, which can have a negative effect on the mother and the child.
This is why you should monitor your thyroid levels throughout your pregnancy. Here you can learn about the potential risks of thyroid disorders and their treatment.
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland located at the front of your neck. Endocrine glands secrete hormones in your body. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that makes essential thyroxine (T3), triiodothyronine (T4), and Calcitonin.
These hormones play a vital role in maintaining your health because they are necessary for cell function. For example, thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and how well your body converts food into energy.
Sometimes, your thyroid gland overproduces or underproduces certain hormones. This hormonal imbalance is called a thyroid disorder.
Some women may have a pre-existing thyroid disorder that begins before their pregnancy, while others develop it during their first pregnancy or after birth.
Normal fetal development requires thyroid hormones for developing the brain and the nervous system. In the first three months of pregnancy, the fetus depends on the mother’s hormones delivered to the baby via her placenta.
In week 12 of the pregnancy, the fetus develops its thyroid gland, making thyroid hormones. But, it depends on the mother for 18 weeks. This is why uncontrolled thyroid levels and thyroid disorders pose various risks to the mother and the baby.
The Main Kinds of Thyroid Conditions
There are two main types of thyroid conditions; hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
When your thyroid gland becomes overactive, it overproduces the thyroid hormones. As a result, your body’s functions speed up.
Hyperthyroidism during pregnancy happens due to an autoimmune disease called Grave’s disease. Autoimmune disorders are the result of your antibodies attacking healthy tissues.
Sometimes hyperthyroidism causes severe morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive vomiting and nausea).
If your thyroid gland is underactive, it does not make enough hormones. As a result, it slows down your body functions. Hashimoto’s disease causes hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
Why Should Pregnant Women Check Their Thyroid Levels?
Thyroid levels change during pregnancy, and if you have a history of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, thyroid diseases can cause premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, severe increase in your blood pressure, etc.
There are two pregnancy-related hormones called estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that cause your thyroid levels to rise during pregnancy.
This makes it difficult to diagnose thyroid disorders in pregnant women. Therefore, you should check your thyroid levels frequently to help detect thyroid diseases.
It isn’t easy for pregnant women to visit the doctor for every minor inconvenience. But monitoring your thyroid levels is of utmost importance. Therefore, Thyroid Loving Care teamed up with Paloma Health to provide patients with online medical practice and in-home testing kits.
This at-home kit includes biomarkers TSH, T3, T4, and TPO to help evaluate your thyroid function. Timely diagnosis and treatment will help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.
Causes of Thyroid Disease in Pregnancy
Hormonal changes and autoimmune diseases are the primary reasons for thyroid disease in pregnancy. In addition, thyroid function tests may change during your normal pregnancy because of estrogen and hCG influence.
Estrogen increases the thyroid hormone-binding proteins, which increases the levels of thyroid hormones. Besides this, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune disorders. For example, Grave’s disease causes hyperthyroidism, while Hashimoto’s disease is responsible for causing hypothyroidism.
Grave’s disease is the primary cause of maternal hyperthyroidism in pregnant women. This autoimmune disease causes your body to make an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI). This antibody makes your thyroid overreact and produce excessive thyroid hormone.
Some people get their thyroid surgically removed or take a radioactive iodine treatment. However, your body can still make thyroid-stimulating immunoglobin.
If the TSI levels rise in your body, it travels to the developing fetus, triggering the fetus’ thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone. This is why you should consult a doctor to monitor your thyroid levels throughout your pregnancy.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism.
In this disorder, your body’s immune system makes antibodies that attack the cells of your thyroid gland, so your thyroid gland does not have enough cells to make the required amount of thyroid hormones. As a result, your thyroid hormone doesn’t meet your body’s thyroid needs.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a medical condition in which the lining of your intestines gets compromised. The cells of your intestine are tightly held together by junctions, preventing large substances such as bacteria from passing through it.
Leaky Gut results in large molecules passing through your gut. Your body’s immune system recognizes these molecules as foreign invaders and starts attacking them, causing inflammation in the body.
This can trigger an autoimmune response which results in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Grave’s Disease.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism during Pregnancy
The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism are similar to normal pregnancy symptoms. These include sensitivity to hot temperatures, an increased heart rate, and fatigue. However, some other symptoms that indicate hyperthyroidism are as follows.
- Severe morning sickness
- Forgetfulness and brain fog
- Trouble sleeping
- Fertility problems
- Weight loss or excessive weight gain
- Slight hand tremors
- Anxiety and Depression
- Fast breathing even at rest
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are also similar to pregnancy. For example, extreme weight gain and fatigue. Here are some other symptoms.
- Abnormal menstruation
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive weight gain
- Fertility problems
How Are Thyroid Conditions Diagnosed during Pregnancy?
Thyroid conditions during pregnancy are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, physical examination, and blood tests that measure thyroid-stimulating hormones in the body.
Many healthcare providers won’t test your thyroid levels before or during your pregnancy unless you’re at risk for a thyroid condition or show any thyroid disorder symptoms.
If you have any signs and symptoms of thyroid disorders, you must contact your healthcare provider. You will have a physical exam and various blood tests to check the thyroid conditions.
The blood test measures the levels of thyroid hormones such as T3 and T4 and detects thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (TSH). You can also use home testing kits to monitor your thyroid levels throughout your pregnancy.
What Are the Risks of Thyroid Disorders to Mother and Child?
Hypothyroidism poses an increased threat of miscarriage. Pregnant women may also experience the following.
- Maternal anemia
- Placental abruption
- Gestational hypertension
- Muscle pain
- Congestive heart failure
Pregnant women with severe hypothyroidism may experience these symptoms, while women with mild hypothyroidism only show signs similar to a pregnancy.
The thyroid hormone is essential for the development of the brain and the baby’s nervous system. Babies born with hypothyroidism have severe. Here are the risks.
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Intellectual disabilities
- Low birthweight
- Poor brain development
- Impaired neurodevelopment
- Thyroid problems
A combination of medicines is used to treat thyroid disorders in pregnant women. The doctor prescribes propylthiouracil during the first trimester and methimazole in the second trimester for women with hyperthyroidism.
Doctors treat hypothyroidism with a synthetic, levothyroxine. It is similar to T4. Your doctor monitors the dosage of levothyroxine according to your thyroid function tests. This is why consulting a healthcare provider is crucial for you.
Scientists recently discovered that probiotics could stabilize LT4 and contribute to thyroid hormone regulation by preventing hormonal fluctuations. Since gut microbiota imbalance triggers Hashimoto’s disease, which results in hypothyroidism, you need to look after your gut health.
Many thyroid patients use supplemental to manage their condition. You can also take supplemental probiotics to treat and minimize the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
Probiotic supplements such as MegaSporeBiotic help maintain gut barrier function. MegaSporeBiotic is a spore-based, broad-spectrum probiotic that helps reduce inflammation and improves your gut health, reducing the chances of getting Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Some women are at a higher risk of having thyroid conditions. If you have a family history of type 1 diabetes or autoimmune disorders, you should discuss it with your healthcare provider. If you experience any of the symptoms of thyroid disorders, it is crucial for you to get thyroid tests and treatment to ensure a healthy pregnancy.