One cause of infertility that is often overlooked is thyroid disorders. This tiny gland at the base of your neck can cause serious health complications if it is over or under active. An overactive thyroid is called hyperactive while an underactive one is called hypoactive. Hypoactive thyroid is a very common, yet often undiagnosed condition. Many of the symptoms are vague and can be easily dismissed by a doctor who is not familiar with the warning signs.
Due to the fact that your thyroid is directly linked to your metabolism, one of the first signs of an underactive thyroid is an inability to lose weight or unexplained weight gain. Some hypothyroid sufferers hardly eat at all and still fail to drop a pound. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Coarse, frizzy hair
- Outer 1/3 of eyebrows thin or missing
- Dry skin
- Memory loss and brain fog
- Intolerance to the cold
- Irregular or heavy menstrual cycles
- Irritability and depression
- Joint/muscle soreness
- Decreased sexual libido
Most of these symptoms are vague enough to be totally overlooked by many doctors except those who are able to put all the symptoms together to see the big picture. This is why millions of cases go undetected while the poor sufferers simply chalk up their symptoms to aging or some other mystery ailment.
While an under active thyroid can have many causes, one of the primary causes is an iodine deficiency. While iodine is added back into table salt, many women do not use enough salt to prevent a deficiency. Living near the ocean helps prevent iodine deficiency as well but that does not help the millions of women landlocked far from iodine rich soil. Lastly, seaweed, specifically Kelp and Dulse, are fabulous sources of iodine but most Americans do not incorporate seaweed into their diets the way the Japanese do.
Another factor in chronic iodine deficiency in the United States is the ridiculously low RDA. The current RDA for iodine in the United States is 0.125 mg while the Japanese regularly consume over 13 mg daily (over 100 times the US RDA) with no ill effects and arguably some of the best health in the world. So even if your daily supplement contains iodine, it does not contain nearly enough to prevent an iodine deficiency.
Clearly, adequate iodine intake is essential for good overall health in addition to optimal reproductive health. There are many ways to start reversing an iodine deficiency. Some people drink dissolved sea salt and water, others take baths with dead sea salts. You can eat more seaweed and kelp supplements but some seaweed can be contaminated with pollutants. Two items you can pick up at most pharmacies or online, Lugol’s solution (2 drops) and Iodoral, both contain 12 mg of iodine and iodide. Some people paint their feet with iodine or use colorless iodine for a variety of health ailments, including reversing an iodine deficiency. It may take up to three months at 50 mg/day to achieve iodine sufficiency or up to a year at lower doses so this is not a quick fix (unlike prescription thyroid medications).
Lastly, iodine deficiencies during pregnancy can cause mental retardation, autism and other birth defects like cretinism. Studies have shown increased intelligence in newborns whose mothers supplemented with iodine during pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive then you need iodine, not only for your thyroid and reproductive health, but to maintain a healthy pregnancy and have a healthy baby. Unless you live on the ocean and eat sushi every day, you might want to consider getting your body iodine sufficient and baby ready.