The miracle of life brings joy to many expecting parents when they welcome a new child into the world. But for some couples who try to conceive, they find the going may not be as easy as it is for others. There are a host of diseases or conditions that can impede a woman's ability to get pregnant. One of these is an improperly functioning thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is a small organ located in the lower front of the neck. It and other glands in the body make up the endocrine system, which creates, stores and releases hormones, our chemical messengers for certain cellular action [source: PubMed Health].
The thyroid makes two important hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate a person's metabolism, the body's process of using energy. Metabolism affects practically every function of the human body [source: NEMDIS].
The function of the thyroid can affect a woman's ability to ovulate, thus making it harder to get pregnant. When the thyroid gland either produces too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism), it can interrupt a woman's natural menstrual cycle. This in turn affects her ovulation cycle and can impede her ability to get pregnant [source: Mayo Clinic].
It can be difficult for a woman struggling to get pregnant, especially if she feels frustrated about her situation. But infertility is a serious medical condition, one that impacts around 7.3 million women in the U.S. That's close to 12 percent of women in their child-bearing years [source: ASRM].
But with medical advances, there is a silver lining for women who are having difficulty getting pregnant. In roughly 85 to 90 percent of infertility cases, surgery or medication reverse the condition [source: ASRM]. For women diagnosed with improper thyroid function, medication can be prescribed to help the thyroid gland bring itself into balance.
Let's look at hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism and their effects on ovulation and pregnancy.