Why Can’t I Control My Weight?

Sudden, unexplained weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of a thyroid disorder. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that helps to regulate metabolism. When a person has hypothyroidism, this gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, and the metabolism slows down. Often, a person notices that weight is creeping up, even with consistent diet and exercise. Hypothyroidism can cause unexplained weight gain, and the condition may also affect fertility.

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Signs of hypothyroidism

Besides weight gain, hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, brain fog, sluggishness, or even hair loss. People may also notice swelling in the neck, also called a goiter. Patients may feel colder than usual or experience numbness or tingling in the hands. Alternatively, an overactive thyroid may cause anxiousness, restlessness, or unexplained weight loss.

Where does fertility fit in?

Although pregnancy with hypothyroidism is possible, women will need to manage the thyroid condition. Hypothyroidism can affect ovulation, which interferes with fertility. If a woman has been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and wants to get pregnant, a doctor can provide guidelines on how to manage the condition to improve fertility.

Tip for managing thyroid disorders

The most important strategy for managing any thyroid disorder is to take the medications a doctor prescribes consistently. Although medications are not a cure for the condition, prescriptions can help to control hormones and reduce symptoms. People with hypothyroidism should also exercise regularly. Be sure to ask the doctor about supplements. Both calcium and iron can bind to medications and prevent proper absorption, so those supplements must be taken separately from thyroid medication.

Can I do anything to prevent hypothyroidism?

Preventing hypothyroidism is not necessarily possible. However, women can be aware of certain risk factors. Some risk factors include:

  • Having an autoimmune disease
  • Having a goiter
  • A family history of thyroid issues
  • Radiation treatment to the head or neck
  • Use of specific medications

Getting pregnant with hypothyroidism

Women who want to get pregnant should work with a healthcare provider about managing the thyroid disorder. In one study, up to 85% of women needed to up thyroid hormone replacement intake during pregnancy. If hypothyroidism is not controlled during pregnancy, risk increases for miscarriage, pre-term delivery, and preeclampsia.

When to seek treatment

Women who want to get pregnant with a thyroid disorder may need to seek help from a team of healthcare providers. For example, an endocrinologist can help women learn to manage thyroid levels. An OB/GYN can evaluate fertility and provide recommendations for boosting chances of conception. If needed, a fertility specialist may recommend assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). For more information, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.

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