Once your overactive thyroid is diagnosed by blood tests, therapy will reflect the type of your hyperthyroidism, your age and health status, and how serious the overactivity is. The treatment options are:
Anti-thyroid drugs, which prevent the thyroid gland to produce new thyroid hormones without destroying the thyroid gland6
Radioactive iodine radiation, which destroys thyroid tissue and stops thyroid hormone production6
Surgical removal of parts or of the whole thyroid gland6 The last two options will lead to hypothyroidism, which is managed by adding levothyroxine
In women, having radioactive iodine treatment before becoming pregnant usually eliminates the need for antithyroid drugs. For prophylactic reasons a woman should wait at least six months after radioactive iodine treatment before trying to become pregnant.5 Men who have had radioiodine treatment should wait four months before fathering a child.5
Once your underactive thyroid is diagnosed by blood tests your physician will prescribe the missing thyroid hormones by T4 replacement. You will be given levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroxine that works exactly like the thyroid hormone produced by your thyroid gland7, which usually improves or normalizes menstrual irregularities in women and sperm abnormalities and erectile dysfunction in men, thus restoring fertility.5 If your hypothyroidism results from too little iodine in your diet, you will be given iodine supplements.
When your thyroid hormone levels are only slightly abnormal (subclinical), your doctor may simply monitor your thyroid function, because there is no consensus on the benefits of treating patients with subclinical thyroid disease. Ask your doctor if he or she will treat your thyroid problem more aggressively to restore your fertility. When it comes to pregnancy, even mild untreated hypothyroidism in the mother is treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy to prevent an adverse effect on brain development of the baby.14
Patient information provided for International Thyroid Awareness Week
Patient information by the Endocrine Society
Patient information by Merck Serono
Patient information by the Thyroid Federation International
Patient information on thyroid health published by the American Thyroid Association (ATA)
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