Thyroid Diseases Explained in TCM
The thyroid is an important component of the endocrine system in the human body, and thyroid hormones are essential for normal cellular functioning in tissues and organs. Thyroid diseases can affect the levels of Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) and Prolactin (PRL), altering the function of steroid hormone metabolism and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, leading to menstrual disorders, infertility, and pregnancy complications.
Thyroid diseases that have a significant impact on fertility include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid gland, and its impact on reproductive function and fertility includes:
In the early stages of hyperthyroidism, the synthesis and secretion of ovarian hormones increase, causing excessive growth of the endometrium, resulting in heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent periods, and prolonged menstrual cycles. Women may also experience dysmenorrhea and premenstrual tension, which can decrease their fertility
In the early stages of hyperthyroidism, the synthesis and secretion of ovarian hormones increase, causing excessive growth of the endometrium, resulting in heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent periods, and prolonged menstrual cycles. Women may also experience dysmenorrhea and premenstrual tension, which can decrease their fertility.
Hyperthyroidism can also lead to immune system abnormalities in patients, which greatly increases the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal growth restriction, stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth.
Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder caused by the thyroid gland's inability to secrete sufficient thyroid hormones, and its impact on fertility includes:
Hypothyroidism can cause amenorrhea, ovulation dysfunction, ovarian atrophy, and poor endometrial development, which can affect conception and pregnancy, resulting in infertility or subfertility.
Hypothyroidism can decrease female libido, indirectly causing infertility.
Pregnant women with hypothyroidism are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and placental abruption. Even if they are able to deliver a baby, their infants are more likely to develop congenital hypothyroidism, cretinism, and other congenital abnormalities.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) is an autoimmune thyroid disease, and patients' serum thyroid antibodies, including Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO-Ab, also known as TM-Ab) or Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TG-Ab), are significantly elevated. The mechanism of infertility in HT patients is not fully understood, but the rate of ovulation dysfunction in HT patients is significantly higher than that in normal women, leading to female infertility.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), thyroid diseases are related to the imbalance between yin and yang in the body and the malfunction of organs and are greatly influenced by emotion. Kidney deficiency is the main organ involved, affecting the heart, liver, and spleen. The pathological factor is mainly Qi stagnation, involving heat, phlegm, and blood stasis. Thyroid diseases are often a mix of deficiency and excess, with kidney deficiency leading to a lack of nourishment to the uterus, excessive fire in the heart and liver, spleen deficiency, and dysfunction of organs, leading to stagnation of Qi, phlegm, and blood stasis, hindering conception.
When treating thyroid diseases, TCM first identifies the fundamental cause of the illness based on the patient's condition and physique. Then, apply different modalities such as acupuncture and herbal medicine according to the root cause to warm the kidneys, strengthen the spleen, nourish the kidneys and liver, clear heat and promote blood circulation, resolve phlegm, or dissipate stasis. These treatments aim to help restore balance, recover organ function, and ultimately facilitate fertility for our patients.
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