Hypothyroidism and Infertility

There’s a very clear link between hypothyroidism and infertility but it’s something that is not widely discussed for various reasons. Unfortunately, because it’s not widely discussed, infertility continues to rise and is becoming a much bigger and more expensive problem.

Infertility is one of the many hypothyroidism symptoms and largely a hormonal issue that can, more often than not, be corrected by overcoming hypothyroidism and the other associated hormonal imbalances. But instead of taking this common sense approach, we tend to try to force fertility to occur in a less fertile environment through in vitro fertilization and implantation. But no one stops to consider the long term health implications that this can have on the fetus.

This important link between hypothyroidism and infertility is oftentimes missed and many doctors claim that with many cases it’s impossible to fully restore fertility.

However, I would argue that this assumption based on evidence of many completely infertile post menopausal women who have successful become pregnant and given birth to healthy babies. There have been reports of some of these women being upwards of 60 and even 70+ years of age.

If a woman who has been post menopausal and has not ovulated for years can become fertile again, then I believe that a lot can be done for much younger women who have been given no hope.

The Link between Hypothyroidism and Infertility

As I mentioned above, infertility is largely a hormonal issue. But most people fail to realize that there are many factors that they have complete control over that affect their hormones for both the good and the bad.

When it comes to hypothyroidism and infertility, the two primary hormones to consider are estrogen and progesterone.

Most people understand that they need adequate progesterone, the pro-gestational hormone, in order to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy. Progesterone increases drastically upon conception and continues to rise throughout pregnancy. And this is because of the protective effect that progesterone has on both the mother and fetus.

But few people realize the implication of estrogen on both hypothyroidism and infertility. Estrogen is actually a hormone that does not support fertility even though the medical community argued that it did for many years.

Just look at how birth control pills work.

hypothyroidism and infertilityBirth control pills contain small doses of estrogen that increase your body’s estrogen levels up through the time of ovulation. And the increase in estrogen causes the cells of your uterus to consume more oxygen. And when your uterus consumes more oxygen, it literally steals the oxygen that is required to support the implanted egg, or embryo. Without enough oxygen, the egg cannot continue to develop.

And hypothyroidism and infertility go hand in hand because one of the main effects of hypothyroidism is the increase of estrogen within your body.

The two effectively feed off of each other. One of the many negative effects of estrogen is that it suppresses the release of thyroid hormones from your thyroid gland which in itself can cause hypothyroidism. And when you become hypothyroid, your liver becomes unable to properly inactivate and detoxify estrogen, so estrogen continues to build up in your system. And this increase in estrogen feeds back to further suppresses your thyroid.

This feedback mechanism quickly spirals out of control and hypothyroidism and infertility will persist until your hormones can be properly balanced again.

Common Causes of Hypothyroidism and Infertility

Excess Estrogen (Estrogen Dominance)

I’ve already discussed the connection between hypothyroidism and infertility above so I don’t think it needs repeating. However, it’s important to understand that any mechanism that leads to hypothyroidism will have the same effect of raising estrogen levels, regardless of whether or not estrogen played a factor in causing your hypothyroidism to begin with.

Estrogen can also come from outside sources.

One which I have already mentioned above is birth control pills. Oftentimes, it can take months after getting off of birth control pills before you can successfully conceive. And this depends entirely on how long it takes your body to inactivate and detoxify all of the estrogen that has built up.

For many women with liver dysfunction, they may not be able to conceive even after getting off of birth control until their liver issues are resolved.

hypothyroidism and infertilityAnother common and significant source of estrogen is from estrogenic chemicals such as xenoestrogens which are prevalent in plastics, pesticides, and many other industrial chemicals.

And lastly, there are even certain foods that are estrogenic by nature. Soy, which is often touted as a “health food” is very estrogenic and oftentimes wrongly recommended to women to help improve fertility when it is actually having the opposite effect.

Progesterone Deficiency

On the other side of the coin, you can become deficient in progesterone which has the same effect as estrogen of promoting and being promoted by hypothyroidism and infertility.

Progesterone is naturally synthesized from the hormone pregnenolone which requires vitamin A, cholesterol, and thyroid hormone to make. So if you are hypothyroid and lack thyroid hormone then your body might not be able to produce enough progesterone to support the fetus.

Another common factor in progesterone deficiency is stress. When your body is under chronic stress then it begins to slow down the production of progesterone in favor of producing more stress hormones.

So, stress can lead to progesterone deficiency which can also play a big part in both hypothyroidism and infertility.

Polyunsaturated Fats

hypothyroidism and infertilityThis is a major cause of hypothyroidism and infertility that nobody ever hears or talks about. And it has a lot to do with the fact that this is a very controversial topic. But in the end, the research speaks for itself.

Polyunsaturated fats in your diet actually cause your body to produce more estrogen. So a diet that is high in polyunsaturated fats can actually cause both hypothyroidism and infertility to develop based on the feedback mechanism between estrogen and thyroid that I mentioned above.

But there’s also another feedback mechanism at play here because when estrogen increases, it causes your body to release more polyunsaturated fats into your bloodstream which perpetuates the problem.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E has many beneficial properties that can greatly improve both hypothyroidism and infertility.

For starters, vitamin E helps to offset the effects of estrogen in your body. It also protects your body against the unwanted effects of polyunsaturated fats. It boosts your thyroid function. And it also helps to increase oxygen to the fetus.

Studies have shown that vitamin E increases fertility in both males and female and helps prevent miscarriages.

So it should go without saying that vitamin E is a very powerful nutrient that can offset many of the issues that contribute to hypothyroidism and infertility. By incorporating a good hypothyroidism diet and hypothyroidism treatment protocol, you can effectively improve your thyroid function and drastically improve not only your fertility but also the health of your baby once you conceive.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Women

When looking at the various hypothyroidism symptoms, the specific hypothyroidism symptoms in women are often difficult to discern because many are associated more closely with female hormone imbalances and no one makes the connection to hypothyroidism. But there’s actually a very strong connection.

Because of this, women are often misdiagnosed as having some other disorder when in reality they are experiencing hypothyroidism. Before we take a look at the specific hypothyroidism symptoms in women, let’s take a look at some of the causes of hypothyroidism that are often exclusive to women.

Common Causes of Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Women


Hypothyroidism can oftentimes be a result of childbirth. The placenta is largely responsible for producing the massive amounts of progesterone that helps protect the growing fetus throughout pregnancy. But after giving birth, your progesterone levels drop fairly drastically. And this drop can cause you to become hypothyroid.

For some women, their hormones re-regulate and the hypothyroidism is only temporary. But many women find that their hormones never quite return to normal and become stuck in a state of hypothyroidism.

Stress and Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Women

Like many medical conditions, stress is known to be a factor that contributes to thyroid dysfunction in a number of ways. Stress affects thyroid functioning through the sympathetic nervous system where it blocks the liver from converting inactive T4 thyroid hormone into its active T3 form.

A study done in the early 1990s on people who experienced chronic stress determined that there was a very high rate of hypothyroidism symptoms in women who participated in the study.

Of particular concern, is chronic adrenal stress, which is becoming more and more common today. Some symptoms of adrenal stress include:

  • Cravings for caffeine
  • Cravings for sugar
  • Dizziness when moving from sitting position or from lying to standing position
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Gastric Ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings

Use of Birth Control Pills

hypothyroidism symptoms in womenWomen who have a history of using birth control pills have a significant incidence of hypothyroidism due to their increased levels of synthetic estrogen and progestins. Therefore, if you have ever used birth control pills or are currently using them, and you have any sort of chronic symptoms, you may actually be suffering from hypothyroidism and not even know it.

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the causes for hypothyroidism symptoms in women, let’s take a closer look at what some of those symptoms are and what systems they affect in women.

Common Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Women

Irregular Menstrual Cycles

One of the most significant of hypothyroidism symptoms in women is an irregular menstrual cycle.  Any history of menstrual periods which are unusually long, heavy, or more frequent than your regular cycle could be an indication that you have hypothyroidism.

Or another common sign related to the menstrual cycle is amenorrhea, or lack of a menstrual cycle.

Severe Menstrual Cramps

Every woman has painful menstrual cramps from time to time, however, if you find that your periods are becoming more painful each month, take into consideration that your painful cramps may really be one of the more common hypothyroidism symptoms in women.

Excessive Bleeding or Clotting

These are especially significant hypothyroidism symptoms in women if the bleeding or clotting is post-partum. But general clotting issues are commonly cause by increased levels of estrogen which is the common secondary effect of hypothyroidism.


Many women going through menopause naturally assume that many of the symptoms that they happen to be experiencing are unavoidable and due to menopause itself. However, it is important to keep in mind that menopausal symptoms are almost always a result of estrogen dominance which is a secondary result of hypothyroidism.

hypothyroidism symptoms in womenIf the hormonal imbalance is not addressed, it can actually lead you further down the road of hypothyroidism.  Although on occasion, the condition is only temporary during the natural shift in hormones. But most women, if not already hypothyroid leading up to menopause, will go on to develop a lifelong clinical thyroid problem.

Keep in mind that just as you may not make the connection between menopause and hypothyroidism symptoms in women because you assume that your symptoms are menopausal are normal; your health practitioner may also miss the diagnosis as well.

Below is a list of hypothyroidism symptoms in women that can easily be misdiagnosed:

  • A history of miscarriage
  • Difficulty conceiving a child
  • Fibrocystic or “lumpy” breasts
  • Fibroids
  • Low sex drive

Many of these hormonal issues can be corrected naturally through the right hypothyroidism treatment protocol with a strong emphasis on a hypothyroidism diet.

The following list of hypothyroidism symptoms in women are those which have little or nothing to do with the reproductive system. Remember that hypothyroidism is really another way of saying that your cells aren’t efficiently producing energy. As such, many of the hypothyroidism symptoms in women are indicated by fatigue.

  • Allergies that suddenly appear or get worse
  • Brittle hair, itchy scalp, hair loss
  • Bruising/clotting problems
  • Constipation
  • Depression and depressed mood
  • Difficulty tolerating cold and lower body temperature
  • Dry skin, brittle nails
  • Elevated levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and heightened risk of heart disease
  • Hoarseness
  • Joint and muscle pain, headaches
  • Memory loss, fuzzy thinking, difficulty following conversation or train of thought
  • Persistent cold sores, boils, or breakouts
  • Puffiness in face and extremities
  • Severe fatigue, loss of energy
  • Sleeping more than average
  • Slowness or slurring of speech
  • Tingling sensation in wrists and hands that mimics carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Weight gain, difficulty losing weight

For more information on the various hypothyroidism symptoms, be sure to check out this comprehensive Hypothyroidism Symptom Checklist.

Unfortunately a single thyroid function test does not always give accurate results, which means it is possible that even if you have a negative result, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a problem with your thyroid. The best way to determine if you have a healthy thyroid is by becoming aware of the many hypothyroidism symptoms in women and keeping track if you find yourself experiencing them.