The First Official Hurdle – A Thyroid Story

Well, I didn’t realize that my future post about problems getting pregnant would come so soon! I intended to continue with what I know about how to get pregnant, and after this post, I still will. But a few days ago, I received news that I wanted to share, as a sort of self-therapy.

My endocrinologist (thyroid doctor) told me that at this moment, I’m not even allowed to TRY to get pregnant, because my TSH level is too high.

Let’s back up. I’m almost 27 years old, and I have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, a common precursor to hypothyroidism. I could write a whole other blog about that topic (maybe I will…) but I found that out 4 or 5 years ago, when I started getting chronic hives. I managed the hives with allergy drugs for years, and sometimes the hives would disappear for months at a time. When blood tests were run, there were many red flags, most of which I don’t completely understand. One common theme, however, was my TSH level. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Everyone has TSH, and it keeps your thyroid running smoothly. A normal TSH level is anywhere between 0-4 (I’ve seen it go to a maximum of 3, 4, and 5 in many places, so we’ll meet in the middle at 4). If you have hypothyroidism and are untreated, your TSH level will most likely be higher than 4. If you have hyperthyroidism and are untreated, the TSH level will most likely be lower than 0, or that is my understanding. Hypothyroidism is when you have an underactive thyroid, so you are usually prescribed a form of Synthroid, which accounts for the amount of hormone your body is not producing. Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite.

When you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid is basically dead, and most likely, you would have to take medicine the rest of your life. Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, however, is a little different, and this is what I currently have. My thyroid still does function, but it alters, from not functioning much to functioning at a decent level. Back and forth, and back and forth. As my thyroid slowly stops producing the hormone, and basically dies out, I will need a higher dose of medicine. But since my thyroid is still working, my levels can switch around frequently, and I can even enter the “normal” zone, on my way to the “hyper” side, only to come back around again.  I’ve been lucky enough to not have suffered many outwardly symptoms (other than years’ worth of hives), such as major weight gain, which makes it all the more odd for me to come to grips with this disease. Needless to say, it’s been frustrating just as is.

Add in trying to get pregnant. I’ve been on Synthroid for about a year, and though I don’t recall my TSH level when I started, I know I made my way down to “normal”, somewhere between the levels of 0-1. I was all clear to try to get pregnant, which we spent a couple of months doing. Now that I’ve recently figured out exactly how to chart ovulation, it’s been nothing but exciting. That is, until I found out I’m no longer allowed to try. My TSH level just came back last week at 8.41. Way too high. What are the risks? Well, with a TSH level like that, I probably couldn’t even get pregnant, and if I did, it would more likely than not end in miscarriage. In the unlikely event that I did get pregnant and carried the baby full-term, the risks for low birth weight, low IQ, and/or multiple physical and mental disabilities would be very high. In other words – definitely not worth it.

But it’s so frustrating. I feel so healthy. I have a slight sugar addiction, which doesn’t always make me the healthiest, and weight I do gain takes forever to come off. I also lose hair in the shower, about a handful, every time. I have dry skin, my face can get puffy (especially with the hives), I have a little bit of premature gray hair, and my feet and hands get cold very easily – but I have had all of those symptoms for years and years. Who knew?

I’ve read and heard in multiple places that to get pregnant in a healthy way, one’s TSH level must be around 1. And, as I said, I’m at 8. I’ve upped my dose of Synthroid, and I have my next blood test in about 3 weeks. Sadly, there’s no way I can continue trying this cycle, and I am really disappointed about that. However, I’ll be even more upset if, after a few months of praying to lower my TSH level, I’m still this high.

When I write it out like this, one cycle to skip doesn’t seem so bad. I’ve been upset the past few days, but I have to hope my numbers will come down sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, I’ll try to live stress-free and stay away from calcium-enriched orange juice at breakfast (2 things that hinder the performance of Synthroid and TSH), use my BBT chart and ovulation predictor kit to tell me when NOT to have sex this cycle, and remember that this is simply a small hurdle in the bigger picture of having a baby.

Thanks for listening 🙂

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