Over 20 per cent women in India live with an undiagnosed thyroid problem and do not even realise that it is the cause of various health issues including infertility, health experts have said. Thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces thyroid hormones that help regulate the human body’s energy use.
Sometimes the thyroid makes too much or too little of these hormones. When thyroid hormone production drops (hypothyroidism), the body’s processes slow down and change. On the other hand, overactive levels of the hormone (hyperthyroidism) can speed up the body’s functions.
Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid could make women unable to conceive. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility, the experts said.
“Thyroid is a very common problem especially post 25 years of age and women are four times more prone to thyroid disorders than men,” Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and IVF Specialist from Mother’s Lap IVF Centre in New Delhi, said in a statement.
“Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility or frequent miscarriage,” she added.
Infertility symptoms can include disturbed menstrual cycle, heavy and less frequent periods, low basal body temperature and difficulty in conceiving.
Low thyroid levels, which make the ovaries less able to produce progesterone, also lead to symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), affecting about 70 per cent of women.
An undiagnosed thyroid problem could also be the cause of other health issues including symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, muscle and joint aches, sluggishness, intolerance towards cold weather, abnormal and irregular periods and sleeplessness, among others.
“Infertility is a major health threat due to thyroid and many other conditions that are often the direct result of undiagnosed and untreated thyroid conditions,” explained Shweta Goswami, Senior Consultant IVF Expert, Jaypee Hospital Noida.
“In order to lead a healthy life I would recommend that all patients who recognize any of these symptoms should go for a TSH test,” Goswami noted.
Hyperthyroidism can be treated in many ways such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test, chest X-ray, T4 or thyroxin test.
However, a doctor chooses the line of treatment on the basis of a number of variables like the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism, the age of the patient, the size of the thyroid gland and the presence of coexisting medical illnesses.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including getting proper diagnosis, weight loss, ample sleep, de-stressing, regular exercise, not ignoring early symptoms and an adequate diet are essential, the experts noted.
Unable To Get Pregnant? Could Be Because Of Diabetes
Diabetes, commonly described as a “lifestyle disease”, can contribute to infertility in both women and men, warn health experts.
“Diabetes can cause infertility in both men and women. Both sexes are at equal risk of infertility,” S.K. Wangnoo, endocrinologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said.
Infertility affects up to 15 per cent of reproductive-aged couples worldwide. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), the overall prevalence of primary infertility in India is between 3.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent.
“Diabetes in men damages DNA of the sperm and leads to reduced number of sperms and reduced motility of sperms which leads to infertility. Although having diabetes does not necessarily make men infertile, it could make them less fertile,” added Roopak Wadhwa, Consultant at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.
On the other hand, diabetes in women is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other autoimmune diseases that can lead to infertility.
“Diabetes causes a lack of glucose control in the body which, in turn, can make the implantation of the fertile egg in the uterus difficult. Therefore, the chances of miscarriage in diabetic women increase between 30-60 per cent,” Wadhwa explained.
Another WHO report had stated that India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes in 2015.
By 2030, nearly 98 million people in India may have Type-2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal last year.
While diabetic patients can always try parenthood, the risk of passing on the sugar disease to the child is approximately 50 per cent high, Wangnoo stated.
“It can also cause intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) and congenital anomalies. IUGR is a condition where an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb,” Wadhwa added.
Furthermore, he noted that diabetic mothers are at high risk of premature deliveries, abortions and perinatal (during birth) complications.
High diabetes can be risky for both mother and child. The experts suggest that maintaining a good lifestyle, an ideal body weight, keeping sugars within target range, avoiding smoking and alcohol and excessive work related stress are some of the preventive measures.
Besides infertility, diabetes can also raise the risk of cardiovascular and lung disease, arthritis, osteoporosis. An estimated 3.4 million deaths are caused due to high blood sugar, according to the WHO.
The global health body also estimates that 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries and projects that such deaths will double between 2016 and 2030.
Here Are 5 Sources Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids You Must Include In Your Diet
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for heart health. It is well known that fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel etc are all good sources of fatty fish. However, there are many other vegetarian food items that are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids. It is important to include omega 3 fatty acids in your diet as it can help in reducing inflammation, risk of dementia and prevent heart diseases. And while it may be slightly challenging for vegans and vegetarians to include omega 3 in diet, following is a list of few plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Sources of omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians
Walnuts are a storehouse of healthy fats including omega 3 fatty acids. Healthline informs that 65% of walnuts comprise fat by weight. Walnuts are one of the healthiest varieties of nuts and can help in weight loss, improving heart health and brain health. Studies have shown that including walnuts in your diet can improve your memory.
2. Chia seeds:
Benefits of chia seeds are many. But the best part about them is that they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and even protein. Including chia seeds in your diet can help you lose weight and improve cholesterol levels in the body. You can add chia seeds to smoothies, salads, nuts, yogurt, etc.
3. Hemp seeds:
Hemp seeds contain a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. Hemp seeds have been found to help in prevention of blood clot formation and also help in recovering from heart attack. You can also take a dose of hemp seed oil by pressing hemp seeds. This will provide you a more concentrated version omega 3 fatty acids.
Fibre rich flaxseeds are a good source of fibre, manganese, protein, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. Including flaxseeds in your diet can help in bringing an improvement in your blood pressure levels. You can eat flaxseeds with nuts, add them to soups, salads, etc.
5. Brussels sprouts:
Yes, Brussel sprouts too are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. They are also rich in Vitamin C, fibre and Vitamin K. Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts can help in lowering risk of heart disease.
Obesity-causing genes identified
Researchers have identified genetic variants associated with obesity that is central to developing targeted interventions to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like hypertension, Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
The team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found genetic sites that affect human body’s size and shape, including height and obesity. The findings will help understand how genes can predispose certain individuals to obesity.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers found 24 coding loci (or positions) — 15 common and nine rare — along chromosomes of individuals that predispose to higher waist-to-hip ratio.
Higher values of waist-to-hip ratio are associated with more incidence of diseases associated with obesity.
“For the first time, we were able to examine, on a large scale, how low-frequency and rare variants influence body fat distribution,” said North.
“A better understanding of the genetic underpinnings of body fat distribution may lead to better treatments for obesity and other downstream diseases obesity also impacts, for example Type-2 diabetes and heart disease,” suggested North.
Further analysis revealed pathways and gene sets that influenced not only metabolism but also regulation of body fat tissue, bone growth and adiponectin, a hormone that controls glucose levels and breaks down fat.
Performing functional studies across other organisms, the team also identified two genes that were associated with significant increase in triglyceride and body fat across species.
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