The autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects far more women than men. Therefore sufferers seriously worry about this autoimmune disease with regard to pregnancy and having children. Because in this context there is much more to consider than in healthy pregnant women.
The thyroid gland is responsible for many processes in the human body. This includes a balanced metabolism, which can influence a woman’s fertility. This means that women who suffer from this chronic thyroid disease often find it difficult to become pregnant and do have an increased risk of miscarriages.
In addition, the thyroid gland is responsible for producing enough hormones, which then provide the fetus with sufficient nutrients. But in a Hashimoto thyroiditis disease exactly this hormone production is severely impaired. The inflammation of the thyroid gland, which causes our immune system to falsely attack this organ and destroy it with antibodies, then lead to over- or underfunction. So it seems like an endless loop in which the affected women feel trapped.
Desire to have a baby and pregnancy do not have to be unfulfilled
Surely, conception and delivery of unborn life with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a bit more difficult. But if the disease is diagnosed and treated properly, the desire to have a baby can still be fulfilled. It is only important that a medically controlled, hormonal therapy is tailored to the pregnancy and carried out. In addition, you can easily support this therapy with the right nutrition.
Because a special diet can strengthen your immune system and keep your intestines healthy. So you should eat very well in any case. So make sure your food contains iron, omega-3s, and phytochemicals. Whether you should continue to use the anti-inflammatory selenium during pregnancy, but your doctor must decide individually.
Also important is a close cooperation of your gynecologist with your endocrinologist. Because the intake of thyroid hormone should be administered in accordance with the status of sex hormones detected at the gynecologist. In addition, you must assume that the dose of your daily thyroid hormones may need to be increased during pregnancy, because during this time, many metabolic processes are on the move. This is a natural process, but in your case one that should be kept under control.
What about the intake of iodine during pregnancy?
When pregnant, it is usually advisable to add a little more iodine because the embryo needs it for its healthy development. But you’ll probably know: adding iodine can aggravate the inflammation of your thyroid gland. So it’s like the proverbial balancing act. Again, your doctors need to work closely together. This is because your iodine values can be determined via the urine and then the individual supply of iodine can be discussed and tackled.
This usually happens during the checkups and on the adjustment of thyroxine dose. It is important that this adjustment is made early. So already in determining the pregnancy, your doctor should be active here, and not only if an undersupply has already been proven during the laboratory.
Which risks can arise for the unborn child?
- Iodine deficiency: May lead to irreversible brain damage in children, which however would only be detectable after childbirth.
- Hypothyroidism due to late adjusted thyroxine dose: May penalize or disrupt the healthy development, especially the development of the child’s nervous system ,
But the TPO antibodies do not harm your unborn child.
Although they are already deposited in the placenta, but they do not get through to the thyroid of the child.
In addition, the increased production of progesterone, the so-called pregnancy hormone, is responsible for reducing your own discomfort a bit during this time.
What should be considered after birth?
In return for the beginning of pregnancy, when the dose of thyroxine was increased, the dose should be immediately lowered by 25 μg after birth. For you the time after confinement can also lead to the relapse of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis becoming more common with the breakdown of the pregnancy hormone. That’s why it’s important to have your thyroid levels checked at short intervals in the first half year.
How is Breastfeeding Consistent with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Breastfeeding is essential for every woman when having children. Regardless of whether you can and want to breastfeed for a very long time, or whether you give the baby the bottle after a few weeks: every mother will breastfeed, at least at the beginning. However, mothers who suffer from the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often wonder if they should breastfeed at all. Here you can give an all-clear.
Because only the foremilk, within the first few weeks, contains some thyroid antibodies. However, in such small quantities that they can not harm the baby. Breastfeeding will also not cause the child to automatically suffer from the same autoimmune disease.
in addition to this comes the fact, that still more hormones are produced while breastfeeding, as it was during pregnancy. Although this requires an increased dose of thyroxine, which also needs to be reduced after weaning, but it may result in decreased effects of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis during breastfeeding.
Planning a child for fathers with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Since the cause of the autoimmune disease is also known to be in genetic predispositions, even men with a desire to have children should seek extensive advice from their treating physician. For example, the endocrinologist can use blood tests to determine if the thyroid hormone is given in the required dose and which sex hormones are present.
In addition, the disease in men may also lead to a disturbed fertility. However, a possibly diminished libido can be compensated by a substitution of the missing hormones, or brought into balance.
Even with the chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland, the desire to have children does not have to be shelved. Although it has been proven that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can lead to increased infertility and more often to miscarriages. But if you talk to your gynecologist and endocrinologist about the subject in advance, your hormonal therapy can be tailored and adjusted to work with the child’s fertilization and delivery.
But you should definitely keep in mind that your diet should be adjusted to the changed needs. For example, iodine is essential in pregnancy, because that’s what your child needs for good and healthy development. But also the future father of your child should be thoroughly examined if he suffers from the autoimmune disease.
Due to the fact that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis naturally can lead to a certain deficiency of sex hormones in men as well, it often happens that the conception does not work as desired. Here, testosterone is usually given to compensate this deficit.
With a regular check, the adjustment of the daily dose of thyroxine and a well-balanced diet, nothing stands in the way of your desire to have children and your pregnancy even with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In any case it is important that you seek the advice of professionally qualified doctors and stick to their instructions.
- ultrasound-examination-during-pregnancy: © VRD – Fotolia.com
- pregnancy: © Sandor Kacso – Fotolia.com