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What happens if Hashimotos isnt treated?

What is Hashimoto’s disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common thyroid disorder in the United States, affecting as many as 14 million people. It’s named after the Japanese surgeon who discovered it in 1912, and is sometimes also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that it’s caused when something goes wrong with your immune system.

“If you have Hashimoto’s disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy thyroid gland, which is located in your neck below your Adam’s apple,” said Wynn Htun, M.D., an endocrinologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. “When this happens, your thyroid becomes inflamed, which prevents it from making the right amount of thyroid hormone.”

If this impairment is severe enough, your thyroid won’t make enough of the hormones your body needs to function properly, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism.

The signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease

“Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and many of the symptoms of these two conditions are the same,” said Dr. Htun. “However, if you have Hashimoto’s disease, you may not experience any symptoms for a long time until the disease progresses.”

When you do experience symptoms, they will include:

The causes and risk factors of Hashimoto’s disease

Doctors don’t know exactly why some people develop Hashimoto’s disease. Some researchers think it could be caused by exposure to bacteria or a virus, while others say that genetics may be to blame. Regardless of the cause, there are several common risk factors that many people with Hashimoto’s disease share.

“While anyone can develop the disease, women are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease than men,” said Dr. Htun. “It is also more likely to develop in middle age, and in people with another autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 1 diabetes.”

People who have a family member with Hashimoto’s disease are also at greater risk for developing it.

Diagnosing and treating Hashimoto’s disease

If you have any of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease or hypothyroidism, it’s important to see your doctor. Diagnosing the disease is relatively simple. It involves a blood test that will measure the level of thyroid hormones in your blood. Additionally, your doctor may perform another blood test to look for antibodies to a specific enzyme created by your thyroid – since Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease, it causes the production of these abnormal antibodies.

Fortunately, treatment of Hashimoto’s disease is also relatively simple. If your hormone levels are not normal, you will be prescribed a synthetic thyroid hormone to bring your hormone levels into the normal range. This treatment is usually lifelong and will require you to have your hormone levels tested, usually about once a year, to monitor your levels and make appropriate adjustments to your medication.

“When left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease can cause complications like goiter, heart problems, mental health issues and an increased risk for birth defects in children born to mothers with the disease,” said Dr. Htun. “If you’re feeling tired or more sluggish than usual, it’s important to get tested for potential problems with your thyroid.”

Hashimoto’s Disease: How It Could Affect Your Pregnancy

ConceiveAbilities - Hashimoto's Disease: How it Could Affect Your Pregnancy

Hashimoto’s disease, sometimes referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. Autoimmune conditions are the result of your immune system producing antibodies that attack your own tissues. Hashimoto’s disease means white blood cells have attacked the thyroid enough to slow it down, and it can lead to infertility or complications during pregnancy if left untreated.

Hashimoto’s Disease vs. hypothyroidism

Hashimoto’s is a disease, while hypothyroidism is a thyroid condition that can develop because of it. Not everyone with Hashimoto’s disease will develop hypothyroidism, but it is the most common cause. If you have an underactive thyroid, or too little thyroid hormone in your blood due to an issue like Hashimoto’s, the body is unable to function normally. Symptoms of hypothyroidism often include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, mood swings and irregular periods causing infertility.

Can I get pregnant with Hashimoto’s disease?

Yes, but since Hashimoto’s disease is linked to infertility it can make getting pregnant more difficult. That’s because decreased levels of thyroid hormone interfere with ovulation. If a woman is anovulatory, or not ovulating, there is no egg released for fertilization by sperm. Without fertilization, pregnancy cannot occur.

How does your thyroid affect your pregnancy?

Women can develop hypothyroidism during pregnancy. If untreated, it can increase the chance of miscarriage, premature delivery and preeclampsia, which is a dangerous rise in blood pressure during the third trimester. There is also a higher risk of birth defects, intellectual and developmental issues for babies born to women with thyroid disease.

Is pregnancy safe with hypothyroidism? If treated, yes. The problem is that while it’s not especially difficult to treat, it often goes undiagnosed. Many symptoms of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s mimic first trimester complaints like fatigue, so a woman may not even know she has it until later in the pregnancy. Experts say that someone with a high risk, past history or symptoms of Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune diseases should have thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, and thyroid blood tests done prior to conception, and thyroid function during pregnancy should be checked every 6-8 weeks. Hashimoto’s after pregnancy can still be an issue, but TSH levels often adjust by the third trimester.

Hashimoto’s pregnancy diet

While treatment of Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism typically includes medication or Levothyroxine sodium pills, many find that prioritizing certain nutrients in their diet also help them to manage the condition.

Iodine is a mineral that is vital to the production of thyroid hormone and can be found in table salt, seafood and eggs.

Selenium has been shown to decrease the number of antibodies attacking the thyroid and can be found in eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and Brazil nuts.

Zinc is another essential element in producing thyroid hormone. It can be found in lentils and beans, shellfish, beef, and chicken.

A Paleo-inspired diet, which eliminates inflammatory grains, dairy and processed foods that can trigger an autoimmune reaction, is safe during pregnancy and can help keep Hashimoto’s in check.

Can Hashimoto’s cause miscarriage?

When the thyroid is functioning at a lower than normal level, it will impact other functions of the body; pregnancy is no exception. Evidence is still inconclusive regarding first trimester miscarriages, though a Chinese study in 2014 found that women with “both subclinical hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity have a greater risk of miscarriage between weeks 4 and 8.”

There is greater evidence suggesting second-trimester miscarriages are more common. A 2000 study found that “women with untreated thyroid deficiency had a significantly increased risk of second-trimester miscarriage or stillbirth.” In 2005, a study found that “subclinical hypothyroidism could mean an increased risk of placental abruption and preterm delivery, both of which can result in later pregnancy loss.” Clearly, Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism are conditions that should be addressed and treated as quickly as possible during pregnancy, if not before, to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Assisted reproduction as an alternative

Because issues with thyroid hormones often lead to trouble conceiving, many women turn to assisted reproduction as an alternative. A 2016 study found that “having autoimmune thyroid disease did not seem to negatively impact the success of the fertility procedure itself and there were no differences identified in number of eggs retrieved, fertilization rates, implantation rates or confirmed pregnancy rates.” There was, however, a higher miscarriage rate and lower live birth rate. For women with severe thyroid issues who have struggled to maintain a healthy pregnancy, gestational surrogacy can be a viable option.

If you’d like to learn more about building your family through surrogacy, contact our team. We are here to answer your questions and help determine your best course of action.

What Happens If Hypothyroidism Is Left Untreated?

What Happens If Hypothyroidism Is Left Untreated?

Over 20 million Americans live with a thyroid condition—and up to half don’t even know it!

The thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, produces thyroid hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. Sometimes the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This condition is known as hypothyroidism. When thyroid hormone production drops, it affects virtually every system in the body.

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Because an underactive thyroid affects so many different body systems, hypothyroidism is often confused with other conditions, or a diagnosis is missed entirely. In this instance, patients may be left untreated despite experiencing symptoms.

Once diagnosed by a thyroid blood test, thyroid hormone replacement medication helps to treat hypothyroidism. We recommend you partner with a thyroid doctor to find the correct brand and dosage of thyroid medication. Once optimized, you should experience a reduction of symptoms.

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However, sometimes hypothyroidism is untreated, either due to choice or because the condition has yet to receive a diagnosis. So what are the risks associated with untreated thyroid conditions?

What risks are associated with untreated thyroid conditions?

Hypothyroidism left untreated can cause a host of more severe problems.

Heart disease

When the thyroid gland makes insufficient thyroid hormone, it affects nearly every organ in the body—including the heart. Hypothyroidism can decrease cardiac output, resistance to blood flow, decreased arterial elasticity, and atherosclerosis (build-up in and on the artery walls). Impaired heart function due to hypothyroidism may lead to heart failure.

A 2013 study examines the risk of death between hypothyroidism and congestive heart failure. The study split patients into two groups: those with heart failure and those without heart failure. Results reveal that hypothyroidism significantly increases the risk of death among patients with heart failure compared to people with normal thyroid function.

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is another possible result of untreated hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones affect renal (relating to the kidneys) blood flow and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The GFR determines how well the kidneys filter blood. When the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, it may result in a reduced GFR.

The GFR is reduced by about 40 percent in over half of adults with hypothyroidism. This reduction increases creatinine (a waste product produced by the breakdown of muscle cells) in the blood. It also increases the risk for diseases that affect muscle tissue. These changes are reversible with the treatment of hypothyroidism.


Healthy thyroid function is critical in reproduction and pregnancy. An underactive thyroid can cause irregular periods, hyperprolactinemia, or sex hormone imbalance—all of which may affect a person’s ability to get pregnant.


A goiter is an irregular enlargement of your thyroid gland. Several factors can cause a goiter, including but not limited to iodine deficiency, pregnancy, or hypothyroidism. When your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, your pituitary gland goes into overdrive to make an adequate amount of thyroid hormones. This overstimulation may cause the thyroid gland to enlarge. Small goiters that don’t cause physical or cosmetic problems aren’t a concern. However, large goiters can make it hard to breathe or swallow.


Myxedema is severely advanced hypothyroidism—when the disorder has progressed for a long time with no treatment. This life-threatening condition is rare because it’s doubtful that you would ignore the symptoms and avoid treatment. Myxedema can eventually slow the body’s metabolism to the point where you would fall into a coma.

It’s important to identify thyroid dysfunction early to prevent complications of hypothyroidism. If you suspect you have hypothyroidism, start with an at-home thyroid blood test to understand your thyroid function and what to do next. Hypothyroidism is manageable with the proper treatment.

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