I don’t talk about my hypothyroidism a lot, but it has had a huge impact on my life over the past 3-4 years and I wasn’t even aware of it.
Over the past few years, I haven’t taken the condition very seriously and I’m still learning about it now. I’m finally realizing how much of an impact it has had on me over the years without even knowing it was the cause.
Because of these reasons, I want to share my full journey with this condition in hopes that it will help others as well! I’m still learning and will continue to share as I gain more information and continue on this journey.
I’m going to share my full journey with the condition and how I found out I even had it in the first place, but first, I want to share a definition of what the condition is so we all have a clear understanding.
*Disclaimer, I’m not a doctor or a healthcare physician and all of the information I’m sharing here is based on the research and experience I’ve had. Please make sure to speak to your doctor and/or do your own research.
Now, let’s take the definition straight from mayoclinic.org. According to their website “Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones. Hypothyroidism may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages.
Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease. Accurate thyroid function tests are available to diagnose hypothyroidism. Treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone is usually simple, safe and effective once you and your doctor find the right dose for you.” Alright, now that we’ve got the definition and base of what it is covered, let me tell you about my journey with it.
In December of 2015, Shane and I had been having a little bit of a rough patch in our relationship intimately. Up until that point, that year had been a pretty hard one on me, and ultimately our relationship. I had been working at a new job in a very unhealthy environment and was under a lot of stress, which I brought home with me.
Shane felt that it wasn’t normal for me to have as low of a libido as I did, even considering the amount of stress I had been under, and I agreed. I literally didn’t even think about being intimate, let along being in the mood. It’s not that we weren’t, it’s just that it caused a lot more thought on my part, and I was so stressed with work that it was the last thing on my mine!
Shane suggest I get checked out at the doctor just to make sure everything was fine. I took his suggestion and made an appointment with my regular doctor. During the appointment, my doctor asked me the usual check-up questions and I had mentioned my low libido. She didn’t seem very concerned about it. Shane and I had been dating for about 9 years by then, and I think she may have marked it up to a symptom of a long term relationship and stress. She asked if I had any other symptoms but because I truly was only there focused on the low libido issue, I hadn’t really noticed any other symptoms.
The doctor ran a blood test and a few days later called with the results. She left a voicemail stating that I was hypothyroid since my T3 levels were high but that if I wasn’t having any symptoms that she wasn’t concerned and she wanted to have it tested again in another 3 months.
At that point, I really didn’t know what the symptoms were besides things like being cold (which I’ve always been), thinning hair (I have bleach blonde hair so I’m used to loosing hair), weight gain (I hadn’t been working out or eating very healthy since I was always working and over stressed) and other miscellaneous symptoms that I woudn’t see as a cause for concern.
When I got the voicemail, she didn’t seem very concerned about it so I chalked it up to stress and didn’t think much of it from there. I was having a lot of brain flog at that time, noticeably enough that Shane was concerned about me but we again, chalked it up to stress since I wasn’t aware that both the low libido and brain fog are very common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Early that summer, I got a new job which helped lower my stress and I went on with life as normal. I had my blood work tested again a few months later which was again high but the doctor didn’t raise any concern or really explain the symptoms so I didn’t take it serious and again, went on with life as normal.
In the list of symptoms below, I’ve underlined the symptoms I’ve consistently had over the past 3-4 years. Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are very common, things you wouldn’t really think (at least I didn’t) of being very serious.
According to the mayoclinic.org Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
Other symptoms include: Decreased or low libido, brain fog (impaired memory) and heart palpitations are not on this list but are common symptoms listed on many other sites, among many other symptoms.
Over the years, I’ve been tested for the hypothyroid numerous times but I was never truly informed of the long term effects or really what the symptoms of it were. The symptoms I was having weren’t areas of concern for me so I never really took it seriously enough to make any sort of lifestyle changes or get on any type of medication to improve it. My levels have fluctuated but have almost always been above what my doctor’s scale would be considered “normal range”.
Fast forward to the spring of 2018, as many you of you have heard me say, this past spring was a hard one for me. Between the hard MN winter that never ended and a slight depression that I had never experience before, I realized that I needed to start doing some research. I started to realize that I had a lot more symptoms of the hypothyroidism than I was accepting.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to take any type of medication unless it’s truly necessary which is why I had never taken any sort of steps toward treating the hypothyroidism. I figured that if the doctors weren’t concerned enough to suggest I make a change or take a pill, that it wasn’t serious enough for me to take any actions to do so. It wasn’t until the end of this past summer when I realized how serious this condition can truly be and how much of an impact it has been having on my life, mostly in 2018 but really over the past few years.
At the end of this past summer, I stumbled upon a woman who is sharing her fertility and life after miscarriage journey, on social media and on YouTube. Her name is Shelly Mettling. Unfortunately for Shelly, she has had 4 miscarriages but thankfully is currently on her 5th pregnancy with a healthy baby boy. In one of her videos, she explains what she did differently with this pregnancy vs. the other 4.
I haven’t touched on this topic really, but after Shane and I got married in October of 2017, we stopped using any sort of birth control and have been very open to staring a family. I started taking steps to track my cycle a few months into 2018 and we’ve been very open to it happening when it does. We’ve just trying not putting the pressure on ourselves.
By the time I watched Shelly’s video, I was looking into the possibility of why I might not have gotten pregnant by then since it had been about 9 months since we had stopped using birth control. Basically, I thought it would’ve happened by then and was curious as to why it might not have.
In Shelly’s video, she shares that she went to a fertility specialist and that her doctor told her that she noticed that her thyroid level’s were higher than she would’ve liked for a woman trying to conceive. That she’d prefer her level to be under a 2.5 but Shelly was at a 2.7.
Of course, when I saw Shelly’s video, I immediately remembered my thyroid levels being high (hypothyroid) and was curious what my levels have been.
Below are 5 of the levels I’ve tested at, along with the dates they were tested:
As you can see in the chart above, my levels have always been significantly higher than the suggest 2.5 max level recommended by the fertility specialist. You can also see on the left of my levels chart the “Standard Range” for my doctor. When looking at these levels based on that range they’re not as concerning but as a woman trying to conceive in the foreseeable future, they’re definitely not idea, at least not in my eyes.
I also want to note that, according to the research that I’ve done, not only can it be difficult for women with hypothyroidism to conceive, it can, as Shelly experienced, be hard to carry a pregnancy to full-term and are at higher risk for miscarriage. As soon as I saw my levels and looked into the risks more, I immediately set up a lab appointment to get my levels tested again and explained to my doctor again that we were trying to conceive and my concern with it. I knew I needed to start taking this condition a lot more seriously!
When I got the results back from my doctor a few days later, she once again came back telling me that she didn’t see a need to take any further action at this time since my level at that time (3.78) was just over their level max of 3.74. She said if I got pregnant that we could look into it further at that time, ironic huh?! Feeling defeated and like I had over reacted, I took it for what it was and didn’t push any further at that time.
This past fall, I felt the symptoms of the hypothyroidism again so I took it upon myself to look into possibly making small dietary changes to help decrease my levels on my own in a more natural, holistic way. There is a lot of research out there about trying a gluten free and/or dairy free diet to help your hypothyroidism so I decided to start making small changes to my diet. I made changes like buying almond milk and coffee creamer instead of regular milk and also tried to incorporate more gluten free option into my diet.
Changes like this can take time, and I wasn’t very consistent with them, so I’m not sure if that is a good coarse of action or not. Since I didn’t feel changes in my body. I just decided to wait until my yearly check-up was due and made a doctor’s appointment but with a different doctor this time, an OBGYN.
Last Thursday, I went into the OBGYN and can’t tell you how happy I am with the results. I shared my concerns about everything and explained my whole situation, including the story of my watching Shelly’s YouTube video. My doctor took a look at my T3 levels over the years and immediately said she was going to get me on some medication and take some more blood work as well. She said that for the “average person” my thyroid levels may not look concerning but for someone trying to conceive they are.
My doctor put in a prescription right way for a medication called Levothyrozine and said she’ll put me on a lower dose for now to see how I do with it and we’ll increase the dose if needed, based on how it effects me. I have a follow-up lab test in February to check and make sure my thyroid level is going down to get me under the 2.5 level that she also recommended for a woman trying to conceive.
I also got my other blood work results back which looked good, I have to take a supplement for D3 since my Vitamin D level is a little low, a prenatal vitamin, and continue to take my thyroid medication. She also suggested that a gluten free/low carb diet might be a good idea. I’m excited to have a doctor who finally listened and who explained things! Just days after taking the medication my doctor subscribed, I already felt like I had more energy and a clearer head, so I’m feeling very optimistic!!
Over the years, the main symptom that I’ve noticed and has been a cause of concern for me is the brain fog. I’ve had this for years and didn’t realize it was a symptom, I simply thought it was due to stress. This past year I finally realized how much of an impact this condition has been having on my life.
The real wake-up call for me was the depression like symptoms. I’ve always looked at depression as having very serious symptoms like thoughts of suicide, which I’m not. When I felt the most depressed it was very mild, things like lack of motivation, energy, and interest. At first, I just thought it was due to my lack of eating and living a healthy lifestyle, which also doesn’t help, but when I finally took a step back and started getting honest with myself, I’d realized how serious this condition truly is and how much it as been affecting my life.
As stated by mayoclinic.org, serious symptoms of hypothyroidism untreated can lead to things such as: Goiter, heart problems, mental health issues, peripheral neuropathy, myxedema, infertility, birth defects, and/or cancer.
If you have some of the symptoms in the above list, I’m writing this post, not to scare you, but to inform you that hypothyroidism can be very serious and affect your life in areas you may not even be aware of. Even if your doctor doesn’t seem concerned, if you feel that you’re not getting the treatment you think you may need, speak up and/or find a new doctor. So many people, like myself, expect our doctors to make the decisions for us but no one is going to care more about your health than you, nor should they!
I hope this post is helpful for anyone who is going through a similar situation or are on their own journey. There is so much research out there these days about this condition so make sure to do your own research and ask questions!
I’ll keep you all posted on my continued journey with hypothyroidism and hopefully will have some great news and information to share with you about it soon!
xoxo – Katie