TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is a hormone produced from the pituitary gland (a small gland at the base of the brain) which causes the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, e.g.thyroxine. Thyroxine helps control a number of metabolic processes. Women with true hypothyroidism may exhibit cold intolerance, and varying degrees of fatigue.
Nearly 50% of women show some degree of thyroid dysfunction by the age of 60. In many women in their 30s and 40s, the thyroid gland begins to under function. The human bodies first response to an under functioning thyroid gland is to increase the TSH to try to get the throid to work harder; hence, an elevated TSH level is an accurate marker for an under functioning thyroid. Most women with TSH levels>5.0 will be hypothyroid.
Although normal levels of TSH have been considered to be 0.5-5.0, most endocrinologists feel the level should be below 3.0 in early pregnancy. Women with levels above 3.0 may be at increased risk of miscarriage and preterm labor. Recent studies suggest that a level>2.5 in early pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm labor.
At FCNE, we screen all women with TSH levels. Although levels between 2.5-5.5 might be considered normal levels, we treat all women with thyroid replacement if there TSH level is>3.0. Remember an elevated TSH level points to low levels of thyroid functioning, and the need to supplement the thyroid’s own production of thyroid hormones with synthroid or levoxyl.
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