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.
Risk factors include:
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.