Mom With Hyperthyroidism Misdiagnosed by Doctor, Told It Was 'Just Her Postpartum Body'
In the Beyond the Bump subreddit, a new mom who is struggling with hyperthyroidism encouraged other women to be their own health advocates.
Your body goes through a bevy of changes after giving birth, many of which are temporary and absolutely can be chalked up to, well, having just delivered a new little human into the world. But giving birth can often trigger certain changes that aren't exactly par for the course—and that are deserving of a more serious response than, "Oh well! This is just your new normal!"
As one mom on the Beyond the Bump subreddit can attest, far too many people—including doctors—offer that canned response to women's postpartum health challenges. Writing under the handle ValisFylgja, the Redditor shared on Tuesday, July 30 that she was told that concerns like sleep problems, low libido, and depression could be attributed to "just her new postpartum body."
"This was what my coworkers, friends, even DOCTORS said when I was still complaining of being too hot even after delivery," the original poster (OP) said. "When my sleep patterns never consolidated when baby started sleeping through the night. When my periods stayed irregular while still nursing and after an IUD. When I couldn't stop eating but wasn't gaining significant weight. When my sex drive never came back. When my depression hit super hard after 1 year postpartum."
She explained, "It is my body now, but it's my body with an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid. Increased thyroid hormones in my breastmilk." The OP noted that because "postpartum thyroid shit is so common," she was surprised her doctors weren't monitoring it and noticing that her hormonal flux should have straightened itself out months prior. "I have been to doctors plenty," she shared. "Finally figured it out after being sick for six weeks, and the on-call doc said, 'Your thyroid is enlarged, but I bet you knew that.'"
ValisFylgja shared that she had to be on the phone for two hours to find an endocrinologist appointment before November, and she finally got an appointment on the day that she took to Reddit.
She concluded with a plea to other women in the same boat: "If you don't feel right, don't assume it's just postpartum business as usual."
The OP also clarified later in the thread that she has yet to get a conclusive diagnosis.
- RELATED: Caring for Your Postpartum Body
The post resonated with many moms who had been through a similar ordeal. Kang4President wrote, "Same with me. Constantly hot, sweating my ass off, no coat in winter, etc. turns out my thyroid is very, very, off kilter." Organ_Ise shared, "This happened to me, only I was hypothyroid. I was exhausted, my skin was grey, I was cold, I got PPD/PPA, my hair fell out and I gained weight. All of these things can be attributed to being a new parent. I'm a doctor, and I didn't see the signs in myself (yes, I feel stupid!). If you're struggling more than you think you should, ask for help!"
Redditor Chan_Vaen_edan_Kote had empathy for the OP's experience with dismissive doctors, writing, "A LOT of autoimmune diseases flare up postpartum, and if it's a first time occurrence, it can be really hard to get a proper diagnosis. I went through so many doctors after my first daughter was born, none of them took my pain seriously, and none of them were able to explain why a 30-year-old woman was hurting so much. One doctor just flat out dismissed me as fishing for opioids."
As the Redditors point out, nailing down a diagnosis can be challenging. There are two thyroid conditions diagnosed postpartum that can cause hyperthyroidism: postpartum thyroiditis, which is thought to occur in about 5 percent of women, and Graves’ disease, which affects about one in 200 people in the U.S. and is seven to eight times more common in men than women.
The reason these conditions often crop up postpartum: Two pregnancy-related hormones—human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen—generally cause higher thyroid hormone levels in the blood. But for some women, an immune system malfunction can cause the thyroid to go into overdrive, resulting in hyperthyroidism (which means overactive thyroid).
Despite the prevalence of the condition, it's clear far too many women's concerns are still being dismissed as par for the postpartum course. For that reason, the more new moms who share their experiences and encourage another to be their own health advocate, the better. Here's hoping ValisFylgja's post serves to reassure other moms grappling with similar health concerns that not only are they not alone, but that they deserve to be heard and offered individualized, thoughtful treatment.