Postpartum Thyroiditis

What is postpartum thyroiditis?

Postpartum thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland in women after childbirth (usually within a year). This generally manifets as two phases: hyperthyroidism (thyrotoxicosis) followed by hypothyroidism. However, some women only experience one phase or the other.

The first phase typically occurs 1-4 months after delivery, lasts for 1-3 months, and can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism (including anxiety, insomnia, fast heart rate, fatigue, weight loss, and irritability). The second phase typically occurs 4-8 months after delivery, lasts up to 9-12 months, and can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism (including fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and depression). For most women, thyroid function will return to normal 12-18 months after the symptoms begin. However, some of the women (around 20%) that go into the hypothyroid phase will remain hypothyroid.

What are the risk factors for postpartum thyroiditis?

Risk factors include:

  • Autoimmune disorders (such as Type 1 Diabetes)
  • Positive anti-thyroid antibodies
  • History of previous thyroid dysfunction (including previous postpartum thyroiditis)
  • Family history of thyroid dysfunction

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Thyroiditis?
  • Constipation
  • Shaky hands
  • Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than usual
  • Crying and sadness
  • Thinning hair
  • Hoarse voice
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping, insomnia
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Goiter
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • More menstrual bleeding than usual
  • Puffy face
  • Feeling hot more than usual
  • Feeling cold more easily
  • Dry skin
  • Sweating less than usual
  • Increased appetite
  • Thinning skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness or muscle weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Bulging, irritated eyes
  • Fine brittle hair
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Weight gain
  • Increased sweating

What is the treatment for Postpartum Thyroiditis?

Most women with postpartum thyroiditis do not require treatment. However, depending on the severity of the symptoms, there are treatments available for each phase of the condition.

  • For the first phase (thyrotoxicosis), beta blockers may be prescribed to reduce the impact of the hormone, but they are not usually recommended for breastfeeding mothers.
  • For the second phase (hypothyroidism), the treatment is thyroid hormone replacement.

Who can help diagnose/treat Postpartum Thyroiditis?
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)