The 4 Things You Need To Know About Thyroid AntibodiesJuly 7, 2017
Working on the GoJuly 12, 2017
Have you reached the point where you do not know what to do about your fertility? If you have been struggling with fertility, I am here today to talk to you about the important connection between Hashimoto’s disease and fertility. This is critical information, even if your doctor thinks you are fine – you need to know that your thyroid could still be the culprit.
There is little doubt that we have seen a rise in fertility issues amongst women. Some researchers, though, have merely pushed this off and chalked it up to most women waiting too long in their lives to have children. While it might be true that women are waiting longer nowadays than they did in the past, strong data has shown that there are still struggles with fertility even when they do not wait until later in their lives.
Thyroid disease can be one of those causes, and Hashimoto’s disease is one of the key causes – even potentially causing problems before it completely shuts down the thyroid. Along with this same line of evidence, we are also seeing the same thing in males. In fact, over the last few decades, sperm counts in men have been absolutely plummeting (1).
If this trend continues, we might be able to assume that within a decade we could be an infertile species – we might not be able to have babies “the old fashioned way” at all! So, in order to get to the root causes, perhaps we do need to think a little bit harder about how thyroid disease might be a part of what could eventually become a fertility crisis in the modern world.
Your TSH and Your Fertility
When we think about “classic hypothyroidism,” we often think about the thyroid completely shutting down and our TSH scores going through the roof – and the free hormones plummet. The thing we need to know today is that you definitely do not need to be in that dire state in order to have your thyroid impact your fertility (2).
Key Insight: Your thyroid does not need to be completely shut down to affect your fertility. When your TSH is greater than 2.0, that alone might just be a factor in impairing your fertility.
Thankfully, more and more fertility specialists are aware of this issue. So, many women who are struggling with fertility need to know how important it is to screen your thyroid function (3). It might even be a situation where you consider thyroid replacement treatment, even in the short-term, where you might not have had a strong need for it otherwise. This will help keep your TSH below that target, where you might not have to worry about it so much.
Bottom Line: Your TSH score can have an effect on your fertility, and not only when it shoots through the roof. Have a good idea of where you stand with your score, which starts with effectively screening your thyroid function.
Thyroid Antibodies and Fertility
Even when everything else is perfect, where your TSH is low and everything else is in order, a high number of thyroid antibodies can actually work to impair your fertility (4). This demonstrates the fact, quite perfectly, that thyroid antibodies are certainly not some harmless number.
Many doctors may just ignore thyroid antibodies, unless the thyroid has shut down, without considering the potential consequences. If they are getting in the way of fertility, though, they must be having some sort of negative effect on our bodies that we need to consider.
Key Insight: Part of managing your fertility, and other facets of your overall health, is going to involve seriously considering the role of your thyroid antibodies.
What steps can I take to manage my thyroid antibodies?
Managing your thyroid antibody levels is actually pretty easy, and it is also beneficial to your overall health. Here are some of the actions steps that you can take:
- Your TSH – having good control of your TSH score is going to be critical
- Be on the best diet
- Detox your body – knowing the value of a good detox is so important (5)
- Managing your rhythms
- Lowering your immune stressors
Managing some or all of these factors can help you greatly when it comes to managing your overall thyroid antibody levels. It is also just a great idea to implement these action steps in your day-to-day life – it will help benefit your body in so many ways, so why not give it a try?
The Role of T2
There has been a lot of data surrounding this topic and for good reason. T2 is known as one of the three active thyroid hormones, but it is often the one you hear about the least. We know about T4 and T3, but there has been a lot of data saying that T2 can be one of the most important hormones in regards to the ovaries (6).
T2 can be one of the hormones which really activates the ovaries and can play a role in the production of progesterone (7). Data has shown that a good second cycle phase of progesterone production is for conceiving and retaining pregnancy during that first trimester (8).
There has also been data amongst males that we must pay attention to when it comes to our thyroid. There has been data which shows the relationship between T4, sperm count and motility (9).
Bottom Line: While we may be primarily focusing on female fertility for today’s discussion, it is important that we also consider the thyroid’s role in male fertility.
The Role of Active Hormones
This is another recurrent theme that we see playing out time and time again. We need T4, but there are some who suggest that it is more imperative that we have T3 (which is more active). The thing about this is that we do need T4, so long as it is in coordination with T3.
Ultimately, this allows us to mimic a state of good health within our bodies, and to replicate that “normal state” we need T3, T4 and T2. That is why I am generally against T3-only therapy because it discounts what our bodies need to assume or adopt that good and strong state of health.
How do we get all three active hormones?
Desiccated thyroid is the main way that we get all three if someone is on replacement – when they are clearly hypothyroid and under-producing. Desiccated thyroid is what we need, and is what includes all three active hormones that we need for our bodies to replicate that state of good health.
There are other fertility factors at work that we need to consider for our discussion today – after all, if we want to do a deep dive we need to cover all of the bases. These are some of the other factors that we need to think about, as it relates to your thyroid and fertility:
Hormones are so central to everything that happens in our body – so cortisol rhythms are going to play a large role in maintaining overall good health. Data has shown that your overall cortisol cycle does affect your fertility (10). A great way to get your cortisol cycle into place is to consider carb cycling, which is an accessible, easy and delicious way to move your cortisol cycle back to where it belongs (11).
Your adrenals actually affect your androgen output – how much testosterone and how much DHEA a woman’s body makes is largely governed by adrenal health. What we have seen is that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a state of high overall androgen output. Not only does it overlap with Hashimoto’s disease, but it can be a big block in the way of your fertility.
Nutrients are also super relevant when it comes to fertility. Zinc is a big one and is something I have noticed when I have tested women in the past. It can be a difficult nutrient to absorb, and simply taking a multivitamin might often not be enough for your body. If it is low, it may well need a higher concentration put into your body for a period of time. It’s not just zinc though, it’s other things like:
- Essential fatty acid deficiency
- Low vitamin D levels
- Amino acid status
- Lacking proteins
- Gut flora
All of these can be big factors in affecting fertility, and they are often ones we do not think about – which is the most dangerous part. Knowing more about them gives us the knowledge we need to treat them, and to uncover your root causes to help you feel better and correct any fertility issues you might be having.
The Bigger Picture
When we think about the connection between an underactive thyroid, Hashimoto’s disease, and your fertility, here is what you need to know:
- “Optimal” is more important than “normal” for TSH scores
- Thyroid antibodies are important all on their own
Bottom Line: There are many factors that could be impeding your fertility, and your thyroid is most certainly one of them. Take these factors to heart, and really think about them when it comes to dealing with your fertility issues. Your body deserves a well-rounded approach to your health, and that means considering every factor so that you can get back to where your fertility needs to be right away.
Your Thyroid and Your Fertility
Do you feel like you know all that you can about your thyroid? Do you think Hashimoto’s disease might be getting in the way of your fertility? If any of this information has resonated with you, I strongly suggest that you take the thyroid quiz (12) today to get a better idea of where the status of your health lies. It will give you the knowledge you need to seek treatment and to better your health today. Find out the status of your thyroid, and your overall health, today.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.