Undiagnosed Thyroid Conditions #1 Reason for Infertility?

{a guest post by Magdalena of  Thyroid Diet Coach}

I went for dinner with my single male friend just the other day and as we just sat down he said: “You know, just about every other woman I go on a date with has a thyroid drama going on.” Yes, he is a serial dater and yes, thyroid problems have become nothing less than a pandemic. “At least these women have a diagnosis”, I said.

They are lucky girls (to have a diagnosis) as once you know the enemy you can derive a plan of action; be it medications, diet, herbs, acupuncture or lifestyle changes. Whatever it is, it’s in your hands.

It’s the worse thing when we experience a list of symptoms and nobody can tell us what is really going on. This sounds like a typical undiagnosed thyroid story; infertility, miscarriages, fatigue, weight loss resistance, low-grade depression, anxiety, hair loss, brittle nails and the list goes on.

There are plenty of studies showing a connection between the thyroid function, fertility, miscarriages and a healthy pregnancy. An underactive thyroid function can prevent ovulation even though you are menstruating.

If you have been struggling with these and have been told that “your thyroid is OK”, I recommend getting your thyroid tested or re-tested even if you have done so already.

This is why: in spite of a mountain of evidence that the “standard thyroid tests” of TSH, Total T4 and Total T3 hormones are insufficient and inconclusive, very few doctors test for more.

And this is where the problem begins.

As a Thyroid Diet Coach, I see too many women with TSH, T4 and T3 within “range” even though they display every symptom described above. Take the TSH as an example. The conventional medicine range is 0.5 to 5.5 whereby the functional medicine practitioners will not accept anything else than 1-2 range. Furthermore, many women show a perfect TSH even though they are still suffering from many symptoms. As a former Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism caused by an autoimmune disease) patient, my TSH was also “perfect” even when I felt at my very worse.

So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions for you:

1). Find an open-minded doctor

This might sound easy but it’s not. I’ve had many of my clients being dismissed and laughed at by their physicians when they request for a full thyroid panel. Sadly, most endocrinologists are very set in their ways and you might have more luck with internists and naturopaths.

Besides, of course, doing a Google search in your area, you can also try another great trick: ask your local pharmacy about doctors who order compounded thyroid medication. These doctors tend to be far more open-minded and willing to work with you.

2). Insist of getting a full thyroid panel

This is THE key. Forget the standard TSH, T4, T3 alone. This is what you would need to test to get a full picture of what is going on:

  • TSH
  • Free T4 (not just Total as we want to know what is “free” and available for your body receptors to use)
  • Free T3 (same for “free” as above)
  • Reverse T3 (it’s a type of T3 that mimics T3 but it only blocks the receptors and does nothing for us)
  • TPO antibodies
  • TGB antibodies
  • TSI antibodies (if you suspect an overactive thyroid)

This is a good start. However, the thyroid does not function in isolation from all other hormones therefore I also like to recommend testing for sugar levels (glucose, insulin and HA1C), cortisol levels (especially if you have been experiencing stress), estrogen, progesterone and DHEA-S.

Since the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 is dependent on many factors, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, I would also recommend testing for Vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, D and ferritin (bio-available iron), zinc, selenium and copper.

3). Reduce your antibodies

90% of thyroid conditions are caused by the immune system’s attack on the thyroid. This means that it’s not the thyroid that originally fails to function well, it’s the immune system’s attacks that causes the thyroid to become under- (hypo-) or overactive (hyper-).

This is why most people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s Disease which is the autoimmune condition and people with hyperthyroidism (more rare) have Graves’ Disease.

How do you know you have it? It’s pretty simple – you need to test for the TPO, TGB and TSI (in case of hyperthyroidism) antibodies.

Elevated antibodies have been connected to infertility, miscarriages and children with learning disabilities and even autism.

Taking thyroid medications like Synthroid, Armour or Levoxyl will NOT lower the antibodies completely as they will not do anything for the immune system.

So what does? This is where your diet comes in.

What many of us don’t realize is that 70% of the immune system resides in the digestive tract (aka “the gut”) in the form of a complex and vast network of lymph tissue referred to as GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue).

You might therefore not be surprised to hear that most women with thyroid conditions also experience many digestive issues such as frequent bloating, constipation, gas, acid reflux, burping or diarrhea. In fact, for many, it’s so common that they assume it’s “normal”. By no means it is normal or acceptable if you want to live a healthy live.

The key things you can do to start addressing and repairing your immune system and your digestion are:

  1. Find out what your food intolerances are

It’s estimated that 70% of people in developed countries suffer from food intolerances (they are different from allergies) which create havoc in the digestive tract and therefore the immune system. The common culprits (although this is not an exhaustive list) are: gluten, eggs, dairy, soy and corn.

Blood tests are often not accurate therefore it’s best to go on an Elimination Diet to gain full clarity and control. If you need help in doing one, you can get The Elimination Diet Guide which was written specifically for thyroid patients. 

  1. Introduce probiotics

Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that will push out the pathogenic bacteria, virus and parasites that are aggravating the immune system. Beyond commercial yoghurt (which is very poor in good bacteria and most often loaded with sugar and additives), try incorporating lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, pickled cucumbers or kombucha tea.

  1. Support your liver

The liver plays a huge role in detoxifying our body, storing vitamins and minerals, balancing our hormones and converting the T4 thyroid hormone to T3. We will never be healthy if we have a sluggish liver. One needs to be careful, however, about many bogus detoxes, especially the ones promised by pill and powders. It’s best to focus on really freeing the liver temporarily from animal fats, meats and toxins by fasting and adding cleansing foods like dandelion, parsley, lemons, flax seeds, etc. For more details on how to do a detox that is thyroid-centric, you can check out Thyroid Detox home-study program.

I’m a big believer that we eat our way into many health problems, often times unknowingly. But, I also believe we can eat our way out of these problems.

Give food a chance. Our body is an amazing machine; designed to self-heal and self-regulate. Just give it the right environment and you will be amazed what might happen.

You can also sign up for the free video classes. I’ve watched the first video on what foods could be sabotaging your thyroid and from what I’ve been reading, aligns very much with what I know of healing the body.

Magdelena’s also has a  Fire Up Your Thyroid class that Is currently 35% off until December 31, 2012. Just use the code: THYROID2013.

And until the end of January 2013, you can take $20.00 off the Thyroid Detox home study program with the code: TD20OFF

The author of this article, Magdalena Wszelaki is the founder of Thyroid Diet Coach; a nutritional practice dedicated to empowering women with thyroid and autoimmune conditions to self-heal and reclaims their lives.

Magdalena is a former Hashimoto’s patient (autoimmune disease causing underactive thyroid) and she has been in remission for several years now. You can watch her videos, listen to her FREE Thyroid Community Calls and read her articles on Thyroid Diet Coach website.

 

 *some links in this article may be affiliate links

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Herbs for Fertility {podcast}

Herbs can bring relief to a body that is ill as well as help to balance the hormone system. In this podcast you can join me as I speak to Jessie Hawkins, master herbalist and founder of Vintage Remedies. We talk about the benefit of herbs and she discusses different herbal options based on diagnosis.

Listen now:

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Or right-click and “save link as” to download to your computer: Herbs and Fertility with Jessie Hawkins, MH

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Fertility {podcast}

The following podcast with Dr. Drew Nesbitt, Acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is included in part in my book, Naturally Knocked Up. I’ll post it here in full, you can either listen now or download it and listen later.

acupuncture and infertilityDr. Drew has specialized in woman’s health for over five years, helping his clients with Fertility Enhancement,  Menopause Relief, and Menstrual Health.

Join us as we talk about Traditional Chinese Medicine (how it’s done, why it works) and nutrition.

 

Listen now:

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Or right-click and “save link as” to download to your computer TCM podcast

 

For more podcasts relating to fertility and real food health, check out the table of contents.

 

Have you had good success with acupuncture? Let us know!

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Fertility Massage {free podcast}

Fertility massage may help increase fertility and reproductive health by putting the reproductive organs into proper alignment as well as increase blood flow. It’s a form of massage that works directly with the abdomen of women and often times called Mayan abdominal massage, and therapists who work with this particular massage technique also claim that it helps to break up adhesions from endometriosis.

A while back I had the chance to talk to Claire Miller and ask her all about fertility massage. I’ve included a shortened version of this podcast in my book, as part of my book launch fun I thought I would post the full version here for when you get a chance to listen.

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Have any of you had experiences with fertility massage?

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone {and Natural Progesterone Cream Info}

Progesterone is, of course, very important to our reproductive system. It is one of the hormones that plays a vital role in regulating many of the bodies functions – especially a woman’s cycle. It also plays a very large role in maintaining a pregnancy, so being progesterone deficient can have drastic effects.

During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, progesterone is produced by the collapsed follicle until either the period begins (which then marks the start of a new cycle and lower progesterone levels) or until the placenta takes over for producing the progesterone during a pregnancy.

One of progesterone’s most important functions is to cause the endometrium to secrete special proteins during the second half of the menstrual cycle, preparing it to receive and nourish an implanted fertilized egg. If implantation does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, the endometrium breaks down and menstruation occurs.

If a pregnancy occurs, progesterone is produced in the placenta, and levels remain elevated throughout the pregnancy. The combination of high estrogen and progesterone levels suppress further ovulation during pregnancy. Progesterone also encourages the growth of milk-producing glands in the breast during pregnancy. (source)

Other Roles of Progesterone:

  • helps normalize blood sugar levels
  • boosts thyroid function
  • helps us use fat for energy
  • has beneficial anti-inflammatory effects
  • reduces swelling and inflammation

(from What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause)

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

Many of the symptoms of low progesterone also coincide with symptoms of other health issues, so be aware that just because you may have some of these, it doesn’t mean you’re low on progesterone, but of course it’s definitely worth looking into.

  • a luteal phase less than 12 days
  • sugar cravings
  • ovarian cysts
  • low basal body temperatures
  • irregular periods
  • allergy symptoms
  • arthritis
  • spotting in the days before your period begins
  • recurrent early miscarriage
  • blood clots during menstruation
  • cold hands and feet
  • brittle nails
  • cracked heels
  • decreased sex drive
  • menstrual cramps
  • depression or anxiety
  • acne
  • fatigue
  • fibrocystic breasts
  • PCOS
  • endometriosis
  • fibromyalgia
  • gallbladder issues
  • Foggy thinking
  • headaches and migraines
  • infertility
  • vaginal dryness
  • slow metabolism
  • mood swings
  • weight gain, especially around the middle

Over the summer I read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause by Dr. John Lee and highly recommend it to anyone needing to know more about natural hormone balance. He discusses at length why we may be low in progesterone and how to use a natural progesterone cream to help rectify the issue. Below are just a few of my notes.

  • xeno-estrogens/xeno-hormones make us estrogen dominant. They come from plastics, synthetic hormones, conventional meats and animal products, etc. This exposure can result in low progesterone. If our mothers were exposed to it, it can cause dysfunction in her daughters ovarian follicles.
  • the embryonic stage of life is when ovarian tissues are most sensitive to the toxicity of xeno-hormones
  • xeno-hormones are fat soluble (meaning the body absorbs and holds on to them) and non-biodegradable
  • Stress increases levels of cortisol, which blocks progesterone from it’s receptors in the body. To much stress and progesterone won’t get where it needs to go.
  • Using huge amounts of supplements over the long term may result in another imbalance in the body.
  • Our bodies release mood and energy enhancing chemicals (like adrenaline) to fight allergic responses to food – we are hooked on what we’re allergic to!
  • Exercising to hard lowers antioxidant levels in the body. Moderate exercise raises levels.

This book also went into the explanation of natural progesterone creams, which aren’t truly natural; a better name is bio-identical. You see, the progesterone in our bodies is produced no where else in nature. Dioscorea mexicana is a plant that is part of the yam family native to Mexico. It has a steroid called diosgenin that is taken from the plant and is converted into progesterone by changing the cellular structure.

Naturally Boosting Progesterone

1. Progesterone, like all other steroid hormones, is synthesized from pregnenolone, which in turn is derived from cholesterol (source) so making sure you have adequate consumption of dietary cholesterol is very important.

2. The herb vitex is also helpful as it works to lower estrogen and raise progesterone simultaneously.

3. Turmeric, found in curry, is known to help increase the body’s progesterone levels. Other herbs such as thyme and oregano are thought to have the same properties. (source)

4. Increasing the intake of foods rich in vitamin B, specifically B-6

5. A diet low in conventional meats and animal products, as many times the hormones given to them act as estrogens in the body. Choose organic and preferably grass-fed products.

6. Don’t use plastics, canned foods, or conventional cleaners and beauty products. Most of them contain estrogen like compounds that cause a body to be estrogen dominant.

7. Ensure enough magnesium intake. (I’ve been using a magnesium oil)

8. Eat plenty of protein each day with each meal – hormones need protein for production.

9. Consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, and especially dark leafy greens. These micro-nutrients are important for progesterone production.

10. Use a bio-identical progesterone cream. The one I have used is from Beeyoutiful. While all natural progesterone within the cream is the same, the other ingredients in it make a big difference. Some creams and lotions actually contain xeno-estrogens – kind of contradicting what the cream is meant to do! Beeyoutiful’s cream contains just coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil infused with organic wild yam root, organic comfrey root, and cayenne, 1000 mg USP progesterone, sweet orange essential oil, rosemary essential oil, candelilla wax, beeswax. From my limited experience with it, it goes on easily, absorbs quickly, and has no smell.

I don’t think progesterone cream is a fix-all, but may help in the short term as you also figure out how to increase your body’s own progesterone production.

11. Practice Lunaception to raise progesterone. In Katie Singer’s book “Garden of Fertility” she mentions that progesterone can be strengthened by sleeping in total darkness all but 3 days out of the cycle.

12. Take care of your adrenal glands. When your adrenal glands are fatigued (due to frequent physical, emotional, or mental stress) the precursor to progesterone (DHEA) is used to make cortisol instead of progesterone. A 24-hour adrenal saliva test can show you what your cortisol levels are throughout the day and may be helpful is helping you heal the body.

 

If you’ve been found to have low progesterone, how did you go about fixing the problem?

More reading: Progesterone and the Luteal Phase

 

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.