Your thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck, and is about the size of two thumbs held together in a “V”. Although it is a small organ, it plays a major role in how your body functions.
Your hypothalamus and your pituitary gland (both located in your brain) work together to control the production of T3 and T4 (also known as your thyroid hormones) from your thyroid gland. If T3 and T4 levels are low, the hypothalamus will make more TRH (thyroid releasing hormone), which will trigger the pituitary gland to make more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which will trigger the thyroid gland to make more T3 & T4. PHEW! We created this diagram below to help clarify the process:
Let’s take a closer look at how your thyroid hormones impact how your body functions. Here are 3 reasons why you should get your thyroid levels checked:
Your Thyroid Health Affects Your Fertility
Your thyroid’s main responsibility is to control your metabolism, but it can also indirectly effect your fertility. Remember when we said that your hypothalamus and your pituitary gland control the production of T3 & T4 (thyroid hormones)? If there is a problem with your thyroid and it cannot make enough T3 & T4, then your body will continue to make TSH in order to stimulate your thyroid, just so it can get some T3 & T4.
When your pituitary gland works harder to produce more TSH than it normally would, it also makes more prolactin. Elevated prolactin levels can interfere with your body’s ability to ovulate (release an egg from the ovaries). This is why a thyroid issue can cause you to not ovulate.
Men Can Be Impacted By Thyroid Dysfunction
A common myth for thyroid conditions is that they are only a female concern, but that’s simply not the case. Men can also suffer from thyroid dysfunction. Studies show that 3% – 16% of men can develop hypothyroidism, and the risk increases with age. Studies have also shown that elevated levels of prolactin can interfere with sperm production.
Too much T3 & T4 (also known as hyperthyroidism) is known to cause fertility issues in men. Specifically, high T3 & T4 levels have been shown to reduce semen volume, concentration, motility, and morphology.
You’ve Noticed New Symptoms (Such As Weight Gain)
Your thyroid impacts your body’s metabolic rate through the action of T3 and T4. When they are absorbed into the bloodstream, these thyroid hormones are able to travel throughout your body. You can think of T3 and T4 as drill sergeants; when they get to their destination in the body, they instruct cells to work harder and therefore consume more energy. If you have a slow thyroid that isn’t making enough T3 and T4, then your metabolic rate will decrease and you’ll have a harder time keeping off excess weight.
Normally, your hypothalamus and pituitary gland are very good at monitoring and controlling your thyroid’s production of T3 and T4. However, when something isn’t right with these organs, then your T3/T4 levels may be off.
Treatment Methods for Thyroid Hormone Imbalances
If you are concerned that you have too much or too little thyroid hormones (our test can help you out), don’t worry! Most thyroid conditions are treatable. The treatment that is best for you will depend on the root cause of your condition. Some examples of common treatments are:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Antithyroid medications
- Thyroid surgery