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Quick Facts

Postpartum Thyroid Disorders

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Post means "after," and partum means "pregnancy," so postpartum refers to the time period after you have a baby. It's usually considered the first 6 weeks.

Your thyroid is a small gland in the front of your neck. Glands make and release hormones. Hormones stimulate other cells or tissues into action. 

Thyroid hormones control how fast your body's chemical functions work (your metabolic rate).

What is a postpartum thyroid disorder?

For about 6 months after having a baby, you have an increased risk of getting a thyroid disorder. Over 1 in 20 women get a postpartum thyroid disorder.

Also, if you had a thyroid disorder, such as goiter or Hashimoto thyroiditis, before or during pregnancy, that disorder may get worse after your baby is born.

  • Your thyroid may be underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism)

  • An underactive thyroid makes you feel tired and sluggish

  • An overactive thyroid makes you feel anxious and shaky

  • Doctors diagnose thyroid problems with blood tests

  • Postpartum thyroid problems often go away on their own, but you may need medicine until they do

What are the symptoms of a thyroid disorder?

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Losing weight

  • Tiredness

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Tremor (shaking you can't control)

  • Nervousness

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Constipation

  • Dry skin

  • Thinning hair

  • Puffy face

How do doctors diagnose postpartum thyroid disorders?

Doctors do blood tests to diagnose thyroid disorders.

How do doctors treat postpartum thyroid disorders?

You may need treatment if your symptoms bother you a lot or your blood tests are very abnormal. For hypothyroidism, you'll take thyroid hormone pills.

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