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