For many women, the onset of their hypothyroid symptoms began either during pregnancy or just after. Most of these women went on to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Pregnancy often triggers Hashimoto’s due to normal shifts in immunity that cause an already beleaguered immune system to tip out of control and begin attacking the thyroid gland.
Factors that can contribute to developing Hashimoto’s around pregnancy or childbirth include shifts in immune function during the third trimester, shifts in immune function postpartum, the dramatic shifts in hormone function, genetic tendency, and the exacerbation of existing disorders such as blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, gut infections, and other autoimmune diseases (which may or may not be diagnosed).
How pregnancy can trigger Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Women make up the vast majority of people struggling with autoimmune diseases, about 75 percent. Researchers suggest this is because women have more complex hormonal systems that involve more fluctuations; hormone and immune function are closely tied. Hormone imbalances are a major contributor to chronic inflammation that can trigger autoimmunity.
Pregnancy simply exacerbates these fluctuations and underlying imbalances.
Shifts in immune function during and after pregnancy can trigger autoimmune disease
Women experience major immune shifts towards the end of pregnancy and then again immediately after birth. These are natural shifts designed to help protect the baby.
During the third trimester, a pregnant woman’s immune system becomes more heavily weighted toward what is called the TH-2 system. This arm of the immune system is the delayed immune reaction that produces antibodies that identify a foreign invader a short while after it enters the body. This response allows the body to recognize the invader in the future.
After the baby is born, a woman’s body then becomes more TH-1 dominant. This is the arm of the immune system that reacts immediately to a foreign invader, such as with swelling and pus around a splinter.
Most people who either already have an autoimmune disease or are at high risk of developing one are overly dominant in either the TH-1 or TH-2 arms of the immune system.
The immune swings that pregnancy and childbirth cause tip an already imbalanced immune system into full expression of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
If you would like help understanding Pregnancy and Hypothyroidism, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Pregnancy and pituitary function
Although about 90 percent of hypothyroid cases are caused by Hashimoto’s, some cases are caused by chronic stress. As any mom can tell you, pregnancy and childbirth can bring inordinate amounts of stress.
Extreme or chronic stress depresses function of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small gland at the base of the brain that is like a control tower for the body’s hormones, telling the various glands throughout the body how much hormone to secrete in response to external and internal cues.
Chronic stress overwhelms the pituitary gland and depresses its function. As a result, the pituitary falters at its job of telling the body’s hormone glands to secrete hormones. In the case of the thyroid gland, this means it doesn’t tell it to release enough thyroid hormone.
This not only causes tiredness and other hypothyroid symptoms, but it can also explain postpartum depression in some women.
It’s important to understand that stress doesn’t just mean bad traffic or a demanding job. Many women enter into pregnancy already under enormous stressors they may not be aware of:
- Leaky gut or gut infections
- Blood sugar that is either too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (insulin resistance)
- Undiagnosed food intolerances such as gluten sensitivity or celiac disease
- Hormonal imbalances
- Undiagnosed brain dysfunctions, such as from an old brain injury, brain inflammation caused by poor diet, or PTSD or CPTSD
- Sensitivity to chemicals or over exposure to chemicals
- Poor liver detoxification
- Undiagnosed chronic bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections
Are you at risk? Check your TPO and TGB antibodies before pregnancy
It’s not a bad idea to screen for risk for Hashimoto’s before conceiving. You can do this by testing TPO and TGB antibodies. Many people have autoimmune mechanisms already in place that not advanced enough to cause symptoms. However, a big shock to the body such as pregnancy can be the tipping point to send you over the edge into autoimmune expression.
If you have Hashimoto’s in your family, other autoimmune diseases in your family, or you suffer from other inflammatory conditions, it pays to screen for your risk before pregnancy. This gives you an opportunity to use functional medicine strategies to slow down or send into remission your autoimmune condition.
Studies show that women with no thyroid symptoms but positive blood serum TPO antibodies have a 25 percent higher risk for developing an autoimmune response to their thyroid.
Reducing the risk of autism, allergies, eczema, and more in your baby
Using functional medicine to manage autoimmunity or heightened risk for autoimmunity is not only good for the mother’s health, but also for that of her child. Children born to mothers with autoimmunity such as Hashimoto’s show increased risk for varying health disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, eczema, asthma, food allergies, and food intolerances.
Researchers have increasingly found that autoimmune disorders underlie many cases of autism, which is caused by an autoimmune attack against the brain in these children. Whether it’s autism or other immune disorders, children born to mothers with imbalanced immune systems may be more vulnerable to environmental triggers that can tip them over into full blown autoimmunity.
Triggers can include food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, or toxic chemicals introduced into the bloodstream.
Of course, no one willingly or knowingly brings these hardships onto themselves or their children, but in today’s world the modern immune system faces significant burdens. Going into pregnancy knowing how to manage and minimize the impact of those burdens on the body can help minimize the risk. If you already developed Hashimoto’s during pregnancy or after childbirth, understanding why you did can help you better manage it.
Ask my office for help addressing the root cause of your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Infertility has been a growing problem over the last three decades, with most of the attention focused on women’s reproduction. However, 40 to 50 percent of cases of infertility are caused by male infertility. Research shows sperm quality has dropped by 50 percent in the last 80 years. Sperm quality of dogs has also declined sharply over recent years.
Now, a recent study shows common pollutants in the environment and in the foods we eat affect male fertility.
The British study looked at the
effects of two common pollutants on the sperm of both men and dogs. For this
study they studied a common plasticizer that is ubiquitous in our environment
and the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153, which, though banned,
is still abundant in our foods and the environment.
They found that when sperm is
exposed to both these chemicals at levels found in the environment it damaged
the sperm. They reduced sperm motility and fragmented DNA in the sperm. Male
infertility is linked to DNA fragmentation in sperm.
Many studies link pollutants to poor sperm quality
The declining rates of sperm quality since the rise of industrialization are no surprise; other studies show links.
For instance, past research has shown that environmental pollutants not only impact male fertility but also raise the risk of testicular cancer. Poor sperm quality has even been linked to the chemical exposure of a man’s mother prior to his birth.
Also, chemicals called “endocrine disrupters” have long been shown to impact male fertility. That’s because they mimic human hormones — the female hormone estrogen primarily, thus throwing male hormones off balance.
If you would like help understanding Pollution effects to Human and Animal’s sperm, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Again, it’s the chemicals in plastics that are to blame for skewing male hormones and promoting infertility.
Low sperm counts and poor sperm quality have also been linked to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials, and heavy metals.
Sugars and processed carbs impact male fertility
While industrial pollutants take their toll, so does a dietary pollutant that is a staple of the modern American diet: foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates that spike blood sugar
and insulin levels.
Eating a diet high in these blood sugar-spiking ingredients triggers a man’s body to over produce estrogen. This not only gives him more feminine characteristics but also impacts his
Symptoms of too much estrogen in men include:
- Low libido
- Decrease or loss of morning erections, fullness of erections, and the ability to maintain erections
- Mental fatigue and poor concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Decrease in physical stamina
Men with excess estrogen also often have high cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal weight gain, the development of “breasts” and “hips,”
and varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Some men even have hot flashes thanks to
A variety of factors are shown to contribute to estrogen dominance in men, including estrogen mimicking chemicals in pesticides and environmental chemicals, poor essential fatty acid status
(too much omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3), gut infections, and poor liver detoxification.
However, the most common cause is the effect of a high-carbohydrate diet on overall health.
When a man consistently eats a diet that is high in starchy and sugary foods, such as sweets, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, soda, and sweet coffee drinks, this chronically over produces
insulin in order to low high blood sugar.
This type of diet triggers an enzyme called aromatase, which synthesizes estrogen. The constant activity of aromatase also leads to insulin resistance—when insulin cannot escort glucose
into the cells—which causes hormonal imbalances.
Addressing excess estrogen in men
Don’t be fooled into thinking using testosterone gel is the way around high estrogen. Thanks to aromatase, the additional testosterone will simply be converted into estrogen too. The excess
testosterone can also cause testosterone resistance, which makes symptoms of low testosterone worse. Instead, a hormone panel that includes levels of testosterone and estrogen will reveal the mechanisms of the imbalance and what the best course of action is for you.
Functional medicine strategies for male infertility
While we can’t rid the environment of pollutants, we can minimize our exposure and help buffer our bodies. In addition to replacing toxic items in your home, body care, house cleaning, and
diet with non-toxic alternatives, you can also help your body by supporting your liver detoxification, antioxidant glutathione status, and body’s stress handling abilities.
It’s also vital to use diet and lifestyle changes to support healthy testosterone levels. Ask my office about functional medicine therapies to support healthy male testosterone and fertility.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Many of us reach for ibuprofen, aspirin, or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) when we have chronic pain or inflammation. But despite their easy access, these drugs present serious health concerns. While we’ve known for some time that NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack, but a recent literature review showed that all NSAID types were associated with increased heart attack risk, and the risk was greatest during the first month of use.
Taking any dose of NSAIDs for one week, one month, or more than a month was associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
Greater risk was associated with higher doses.
When used for longer than one month, the risks did not appear to exceed those associated with shorter use duration.
Daily doses of 200 mg or more of celecoxib, 100 mg or more of diclofenac, 1200 mg or more of ibuprofen, and 750 mg or more of naproxen for just 8 to 30 days could raise heart attack risk.
If you have inflammatory problems, schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
For perspective, the recommended safe dose of ibuprofen is 1200 mg for menstrual pain — the same dose seen to raise heart attack risk — and 3200 mg for arthritis pain or fever.
Is a daily aspirin safe?
Many doctors recommend taking an aspirin to stop an impending heart attack, but as for daily use, aspirin’s heart benefits may be overshadowed by other concerns.
A 2018 study states, “The use of low-dose aspirin as a primary prevention strategy in older adults resulted in a significantly higher risk of major hemorrhage and did not result in a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than placebo.”
NSAID risk not limited to heart attack
NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are the most prescribed medications for painful conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. They come in many strengths and formulas in both generic and brand-name forms. Not only pain relievers, NSAIDs also reduce inflammation and fever and help prevent blood clotting.
NSAIDs work by preventing the COX (cyclooxygenase) enzyme from doing its jobs.
COX has two forms, each with its own duties:
- COX-1 protects the lining of the stomach from digestive acids and helps the kidneys maintain function.
- COX-2 is involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation in the body.
Traditional NSAIDs block the actions of both these COX enzymes, which is why they can cause upset stomach while relieving inflammation and pain.
COX-2 inhibitors are special because they only target the enzyme that stimulates the inflammatory response. Because they don’t block COX-1 activity they don’t cause the stomach upset commonly associated with NSAIDs.
However, COX-2 have serious side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, indigestion, and in rare cases, abdominal bleeding. Before use, talk to your doctor if you have a history of angina, heart attack, stroke, blood clot or hypertension or if you are sensitive to sulfa drugs or other NSAIDs.
Because NSAIDs block the stomach-protecting qualities of COX-1, they can cause stomach upset and bleeding, so take them with food to minimize risk. Other common side effects include:
- Mild headache
- Difficulty concentrating
If you have a health condition such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, asthma, history of stroke or heart attack, Crohn’s disease, or pregnancy, talk with your health care practitioner before taking NSAIDs.
NSAIDs linked to leaky gut
An additional reason to avoid NSAIDs is their ability to promote leaky gut. In leaky gut, inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine causes it to become overly porous. This allows undigested food and pathogens such as bacteria and toxins to pass into the bloodstream, triggering a cascade of inflammation and pain throughout the body.
Quell pain without pills
Americans are in increasingly in pain from chronic inflammation caused by poor diet, stress, inadequate exercise, toxic load, sleep deprivation, unaddressed autoimmunity, and other factors of modern life.
Pain is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong. It’s important to address its cause early so you don’t suffer long-term effects.
In functional medicine, we address pain from various angles, and while pharmaceutical drugs may be necessary sometimes, there are many ways to reduce pain without taking drugs.
Anti-inflammatory diet. The foundation of any pain management plan, your diet should exclude foods known to wreak havoc on the immune system. Many patients do well by removing triggers such as gluten, excess sugars, processed oils, eggs, dairy, nightshades, and nuts.
Sleep. Getting enough sleep is one of the most underrated ways to reduce pain and inflammation. The amount of sleep you get directly affects the amount of pain you will feel in the following days. To improve your sleep, avoid screen time in the evening, stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up time, and work on balancing your blood sugar.
Yoga and meditation. These practices help quiet the brain and assist the transition from “fight or flight” mode to “rest and digest mode” where our bodies can heal.
Hydration. It’s easy to forget to drink water when we’re busy. We are made primarily of water, and dehydration adds to chronic pain. The best way to hydrate is to drink small bits all day long. Minimize caffeine and alcohol intake because they serve as diuretics.
Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with immobility (just don’t overdo it or you’ll cause more inflammation).
CBD oil. Proving to be one of the best pain-relief options, many patients prefer CBD over opioids. Myth bust: CBD sourced from hemp is not psychoactive.
Boswellia. Available both as a tincture and as pills, this tree-based resin is known for its anti-inflammatory compounds and is said to rival the anti-inflammatory power of NSAIDs. Take it with a meal to avoid gastric upset, and check with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Turmeric and resveratrol. Powerful anti-inflammatories independent of each other, research shows they are much more effective together.
Support glutathione. The body’s master antioxidant, glutathione helps you detoxify, helps immune function, and shields cells from inflammation-based oxidative damage.
White willow bark is commonly used in place of aspirin for inflammation and pain.
Test for the root cause. Sometimes the cause of pain isn’t obvious such as a sprained ankle. A functional medicine practitioner can test you for nutrient deficiencies, underlying infections, imbalances in hormones, and environmental toxin exposure that contribute to chronic pain.
Managing chronic pain requires a commitment to diet and lifestyle changes, but when it’s done right, enjoying a pain-free life is possible. If you suffer from chronic pain and want to know more about how functional medicine, schedule a FREE 15 – MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.