How Thyroid Conditions Affect Pregnancy

A condition of the thyroid can be concerning for women who are TTC as well as women who are pregnant, because it affects the production of the thyroid hormone, which is responsible for regulating the metabolism, or the body’s energy use. Because pregnancy naturally affects hormones, the thyroid is affected somewhat even during normal pregnancies. The thyroid hormone is crucial to the development of a fetus’s nervous system and brain. During the first trimester of pregnancy, a baby must depend on his mother’s thyroid hormones, which are provided via the placenta. After that point, the baby’s own thyroids begin to function independently.


When the thyroid hormone is being produced in excess, it leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. This speeds up the rate of the body’s metabolism, which could lead to weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and excess sweating. On the other hand, insufficient production of the thyroid hormone, called hypothyroidism, causes the body’s metabolism to slow down. Virtually every organ in the body is impacted by the thyroid hormone, so a woman who is TTC or pregnant and has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition should speak to her doctor and maintain thyroid testing. 2 Hypothyroidism also causes irregular ovulation and hence impacts your chances of conceiving.3 It is still possible to have a safe and healthy pregnancy through proper monitoring.4

In certain rare cases, an expectant mother can experience either hyper- or hypothyroidism, even if they have not previously had these conditions in the past. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is the Graves’ Disease (in 80-85% of cases), but only one in 1,500 pregnant women experience this medical issue. Hypothyroidism can be brought on by a number of causes, such as an autoimmune disease, or other issues directly related to the thyroid such as congenital thyroidism, thyroiditis, or surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. In most cases, mild thyroid variances are not harmful to the health of the mother or her baby.5

Although thyroid issues can be concerning during pregnancy, medical specialists take special precautions to monitor such conditions so that a woman who is carrying can rest assured that both she and her baby are receiving preventative care.

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  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2012 April). “Pregnancy and Thyroid Disease.” Retrieved November 12, 2015, from
  2. NIDDK; see above.
  3. Martindale, M. (2013 April). How does an underactive thyroid affect conceiving and pregnancy? Retrieved November 15, 2015, from
  4. NIDDK; see above.
  5. American Thyroid Association; American Thyroid Association. (2015). Thyroid Disease and Pregnancy. Retrieved November 12, 2015, from

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