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Which Hypothyroid Treatment Methods During Pregnancy & Lactation Should You Use?

Updated on August 4, 2011

If you have hypothyroidism and are either pregnant or lactating (or both), then you might wonder which hypothyroid treatment method is the best for you to use. Most women will be taking synthetic thyroid hormone, which is one option that will be discussed here. But there are actually two other options you might want to consider.

So let's take a look at these three hypothyroid treatment methods

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #1: Synthetic Thyroid Hormone. Most women with hypothyroidism who are pregnant and/or lactating will be told to take synthetic thyroid hormone. An example is Synthroid. Synthetic thyroid hormone can definitely can do a good job of managing the symptoms of hypothyroidism in many people. In addition, thyroid hormone is important to take for the healthy development of the baby while in the mother's womb.

The problem with synthetic thyroid hormone is that it doesn't do anything for the actual cause of the hypothyroid condition. So while it's okay to take while pregnant and lactating to ensure the baby has a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone, it eventually makes sense to try to find the underlying cause of the thyroid disorder. Of course most endocrinologists and other types of medical doctors don't even attempt to determine the underlying cause of hypothyroidism, as they simply recommend thyroid blood tests to patients who they suspect have hypothyroidism, and for those that test positive, they recommend synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of the patient's life.

But in most cases of hypothyroidism, the malfunctioning thyroid gland isn't the actual cause of the disorder. So if most medical doctors would attempt to find the actual cause of the hypothyroid condition, many people could have their health restored back to normal. In summary, taking synthetic thyroid hormone while pregnant and/or lactating should do a good job in keeping your baby healthy. But for those women with hypothyroidism who want more than just lifetime symptom management, they may want to consider the third treatment option which will be discussed shortly.

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #2: Natural Thyroid Hormone. Some pregnant and lactating women prefer a more natural form of thyroid hormone, and as a result choose natural thyroid hormone, such as Armour or Westhroid. Some people actually do better when on natural thyroid hormone when compared to synthetic thyroid hormone. In other words, some people receive better management of their symptoms when taking natural thyroid hormone. On the other hand, other people do better when taking synthetic thyroid hormone.

Like synthetic thyroid hormone, natural thyroid hormone doesn't do anything for the actual cause of the hypothyroid condition. All it does is help to manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism. This once again is important, especially when pregnant and/or breastfeeding. But for those women looking to restore their health back to normal, they might want to consider the next hypothyroid treatment option I'll be discussing.

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #3: Natural Treatment Methods. For those women who are looking to get to the underlying cause of their thyroid condition, following a natural hypothyroid treatment protocol can potentially help to restore one's condition back to normal. However, while natural treatment methods have the potential to restore your health back to normal, women who are pregnant probably won't want to rely solely on this treatment method. The reason for this is because it will take some time for the natural treatment methods to take effect. And so if you stop taking synthetic or natural thyroid hormone and wait until the natural treatment methods to "kick in", then you'll be compromising the health of the baby.

So if you are pregnant and would like to follow a natural thyroid treatment protocol, what I would recommend is to consult with a competent natural endocrine doctor. What they most likely will do is recommend that you continue taking synthetic or natural thyroid hormone, and at the same time begin a natural treatment protocol. One thing you should know is that if you're pregnant or breastfeeding and begin a natural treatment protocol, there might be some modifications in the actual protocol.

For example, when I put a woman with hypothyroidism on a natural thyroid treatment protocol who isn't pregnant or breastfeeding, part of the protocol will usually involve taking certain herbs, such as Bladderwrack and/or Ashwagandha. I might also give her one or more herbs for adrenal support, such as Eleuthero. However, someone who is pregnant or breastfeeding can't take all of the same herbs that someone who isn't pregnant or lactating can. In some cases it's because these herbs can potentially harm the baby, but in most cases it's because they haven't been tested on pregnant and lactating women, and so the side effects on the developing fetus aren't fully known. In any case, a woman who is pregnant and/or breastfeeding will receive a different protocol than someone who isn't pregnant or breastfeeding.

Of course in my practice nobody receives the exact same protocol anyway, so regardless of whether someone is pregnant or not, I will put together an individualized treatment plan for each person to follow. The overall point I wanted to make is that there are certain restrictions when it comes to pregnant and lactating women regarding a natural treatment protocol.

Not everyone can have their health restored back to normal through a natural treatment protocol. For example, someone who has had their thyroid gland completely removed will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life. Also, many people who have received radioactive iodine also will need to take thyroid hormone, although some people who have received RAI can fully recover. So while many people can benefit from natural treatment methods, some people will need to continue taking thyroid hormone daily for the rest of their life.

In summary, these are three different hypothyroid treatment options that pregnant and lactating women should consider. However, any woman who is pregnant and/or breastfeeding and who chooses natural treatment methods will most likely need to continue taking synthetic or thyroid hormone when beginning such a protocol. And while not everyone with hypothyroidism can have their health restored back to normal, many people can, which is why it's a good idea to at least consult with a competent natural endocrine doctor.

For more information on how to treat hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis through natural treatment methods, please visit my facebook fan page, Natural Solutions for Graves Disease and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis at


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