Iodine is a vital micro-nutrient that is essential for the production of thyroid hormone and for the in-utero neurodevelopment. Iodine deficiency increases the chances of infertility and recurrent miscarriage by under producing the required levels of thyroid hormones. Various recent studies have shown that mild iodine deficiency is becoming an emerging problem in many developing countries. This concern is being highlighted to the fact that iodine is found in very few food items, most of which is taken from iodized salt, dairy and few bread items says Dr. Arvind Vaid, IVF Expert, Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi.
The thyroid is a key link to whole body wellness. The butterfly shaped small size thyroid gland can have a dramatic impact on most of the metabolic processes in your body. The disorders associated with thyroid can range from a small, harmless goiter to weight gain, graves diseases, weight loss and to thyroid cancer in extreme cases. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.
How does iodine deficiency leads to infertility?
Iodine deficient women have a low thyroid functioning which may directly be linked with a negative impact on their reproductive health. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common cause for infertility and miscarriage in women than most of them realize.
Low functioning thyroid gland will not produce enough hormones thereby interfering with the release of egg from ovaries during ovulation that leads to impairing fertility. Once diagnosed with hypothyroidism, women may have loss of libido, menstrual abnormalities and may have difficulty in conceiving. Common symptoms that indicates hypothyroidism include – heavy or irregular menses, loss or reduced libido, fatigue, lack of energy, puffy tissues, unexplained weight gain, feeling depressed etc can be more than indicative for a visit to the doctor.
There is an interconnection between the thyroid glands and the ovaries and hence any imbalance caused in this web will influence effects on the other. Release of the thyroid hormones is necessary for signaling the ovaries to mature the egg follicles and produce the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.
“It is really important for a woman to keep a check on her hypothyroidism to become pregnant. Conception is more difficult for hypothyroid women due to associated ovarian dysfunction. Women with thyroid disorders often have menstrual cycle abnormalities such as flooding, scanty periods or irregular cycles. Close monitoring of the thyroid hormone level during pregnancy is essential to promote normal fetal development and reduce the chances of miscarriage.” She added
How to prevent hypothyroidism to prevent infertility?
1. Stop smoking – Smoking can damage the thyroid directly as well as the nicotine absorbs the iodine from the body preventing the hormone secretion. This is one of the common factors that contribute highly to infertility.
2. Drink bottled water – Fluoride and perchlorate content in water are those substances which trigger hypothyroidism or lead to risk of other thyroid problems.
3. Consume Moderate Iodine – When it comes to iodine, think moderation. Too little or too much iodine can increase your risk of hypothyroidism or goiter.
4. Reduce your stress – Reducing stress using effective mind-body techniques can play a part in preventing thyroid disease.
5. Be careful about too much soy – Excessive soy isoflavones may trigger or worsen hypothyroidism, goiter or nodules. Some doctors advise avoiding soy supplements and powders and eating no more than one small serving of soy foods daily.
6. Don’t feed infants soy-based formulas – There’s evidence that this can contribute to later risk of thyroid disease.
For women, treating hypothyroidism is an important part of any effort to correct infertility. If infertility remains after hypothyroidism has been corrected, other interventions to treat infertility may be needed.
Early diagnosis and control is mandatory in pregnant women. Getting a blood test on time can indicate timely treatment measures.