Hypothyroidism develops when the thyroid gland which is located in front of the neck and is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones required by the body to metabolize normally and produce energy. The primary function of the thyroid gland is to release hormones that help in increasing the metabolic rate of the body. It also regulates the heart rate and helps in digestion. If there is reduced production of the thyroid hormones then literally all the organs of the body start to lose their functionality.
A decrease in thyroid hormones also affects an individual psychologically resulting in a host of problems like anxiety and depression. While there are many medical conditions that can lead to Hypothyroidism, at times hormonal imbalance or genetic makeup of an individual also plays a role in the development of this condition.
It is seen that Hypothyroidism affects females more than males and that too after the sixth decade of their lives even though in some cases even young people have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, especially pregnant females. It is extremely essential to get treated for hypothyroidism as failure of prompt treatment may lead to unwarranted complications.
How Can Pregnancy Lead to Hypothyroidism?
Pregnancy and delivery of the child is one of the most common causes of Hypothyroidism in females in the United States. This happens due to various hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and after delivery. During pregnancy especially when the female is in the last trimester there is a dominance of the TH-2 immune response. Once the female delivers the child, this equation changes and the TH-1 immune response takes center stage.
Thus if a female is predisposed to thyroid issues genetically then this hormonal imbalance tends to trigger autoimmune responses resulting in hypothyroidism. Studies have revealed that around 95% of cases of hypothyroidism in the United States are autoimmune triggered, namely Hashimoto Syndrome. Additionally, the stress put on a female due to the ongoing pregnancy is also a factor in depleting thyroid hormone levels.
There are also certain other risk factors which can increase stress like food intolerance, lactose intolerance, and other hormonal issues seen with pregnancy. The resultant stress exerts pressure on the pituitary gland which helps in regulating hormone levels in the body causing Hypothyroidism. The excess pressure exerted on the pituitary gland results in the gland not being able to communicate to the thyroid to produce excess of hormones ultimately causing hypothyroidism.
Thus it is highly recommended that a female should plan a family only when she has hormonal and other immune imbalances corrected to prevent onset of hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
- “Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/morning-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy
- “Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy.” American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/nausea-during-pregnancy/
- “Managing Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy.” The Royal Women’s Hospital. https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/pregnancy-and-birth/a-healthy-pregnancy/managing-nausea-and-vomiting-in-pregnancy
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