During pregnancy, your thyroid will change drastically. Some women will suffer from hyperthyroidism, while others will suffer from hypothyroidism during pregnancy. What this means is that a woman’s metabolism will either kick into high-gear, causing her to lose weight, or it will slow down dramatically, causing her to gain weight.
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What Affects Thyroid Levels During Pregnancy?
The thyroid during pregnancy is changed due to the hormones produced. A woman’s body is producing excess hormones to help the baby grow, and the mother-to-be’s body changes accordingly to prepare for birth. And it’s normal for thyroid function to be altered during pregnancy.
Testing for issues with the thyroid is difficult at this time because results will continually vary due to two main hormones:
Low thyroid levels during pregnancy, for example, can be caused by high levels of hCG. When this hormone is present, the result will be lower TSH levels, which can lead to hyperthyroidism. And the opposite can happen due to estrogen, resulting in the thyroid underperforming and causing you to gain weight (outside of normal pregnancy weight).
The good news is that these thyroid levels during pregnancy normally level out, reverting back to normal thyroid function later on in the pregnancy.
Women usually notice a difference in their metabolism or thyroid function within the first trimester as hormone production is accelerating. As the pregnancy continues, the amount of hormones normally level off, resulting in the woman’s thyroid function returning to a normal state.
Thyroid Size Changes
It’s possible that the thyroid gland will increase in size when pregnant. This is what is referred to as a goiter. This is a condition that is associated with iodine deficient areas of the world. Growth of up to 15% can occur, but this is not common in most areas of the developed world.
2 Medical Conditions Linked With Thyroid Changes
Thyroid changes are normal when pregnant, but medical conditions can cause matters to worsen, or result in hyper or hypothyroidism occurring. The two medical conditions that are of most concern include:
- Grave’s disease: Associated with hyperthyroidism.
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Associated with hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disease at this time is not uncommon, but medical treatment is available that can help the thyroid return to normal functionality.
10 Signs of Thyroid Problems During Pregnancy
Severe weight loss or gain in the first trimester is the first sign that something may be amiss. Consulting with your doctor at this time is recommended (we discuss treatment and diagnosis further below).
An issue with the thyroid is that the symptoms experienced are very similar to normal pregnancy symptoms, so testing is needed for a true diagnosis.
But the following symptoms should be monitored for hyperthyroidism:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss or lack of weight gain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Vomiting or severe nausea (how to get rid of it at third trimester?)
Note: These are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
A woman will experience different symptoms if she has hypothyroidism. When a woman is suffering from hypothyroidism, she may experience:
- Severe weight gain
- Severe tiredness
- Muscle cramps
- Heightened cold sensitivity
As you can see, these symptoms can be associated with a wide range of issues. Women that are experiencing any of the symptoms above will want to consult with a doctor and discuss the symptoms thoroughly to determine if a thyroid issue is the cause of the symptoms.
Treatment and Diagnosis
Diagnosis is required prior to seeking any form of treatment. The typical diagnosis will consist of the following:
- Physical exam
- Blood tests
Blood tests are required to measure the thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. Hormones T4 and T3 will also be examined to determine if there is a thyroid imbalance present.
Treatment of Thyroid Issues
Thyroid issues are fairly easy to treat, but in rare cases, more intense treatments are required. In the event that a disease is causing your issues, you will need to undergo treatments that need to be determined by a medical professional.
The treatment for hyperthyroidism requires a simple anti-thyroid medication. This medication will interrupt the production of the thyroid’s hormone production, allowing for hormone levels to fall within a normal range.
Medications can vary from the first and subsequent trimesters. In the event that you do not respond to medication, your doctor will need to increase dosages to better control your thyroid imbalance.
A manmade treatment is provided for anyone with hypothyroidism. This treatment is called levothyroxine. What this medication does is mimic the T4 hormone that is produced by the thyroid naturally, the hormone that people with hypothyroidism are lacking.
Thyroid issues while pregnant are easily managed and need to be tested for regularly. Blood work can be done every 4 – 6 weeks, depending on doctor recommendations, in an effort to keep a close eye on thyroid levels and adjust medications as needed. If you believe you’re suffering from a thyroid issue, contact your physician.