Thyroid disorders have a great impact on fertility in both sexes. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism cause changes in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), prolactin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, and sex steroid serum levels. In females, thyroid hormones may also have a direct effect on oocytes, because it is known that specific binding sites for thyroxin are found on mouse and human oocytes. There is also an association between thyroid dysfunction in women and morbidity and outcome in pregnancy. In males, hyperthyroidism causes a reduction in sperm motility. The numbers of morphologically abnormal sperm are increased by hypothyroidism. When euthyroidism is restored, both abnormalities improve or normalize. In women, the alterations in fertility caused by thyroid disorders are more complex. Hyper- and hypothyroidism are the main thyroid diseases that have an adverse effect on female reproduction and cause menstrual disturbances--mainly hypomenorrhea and polymenorrhea in hyperthyroidism, and oligomenorrhea in hypothyroidism. In recent studies, it has become evident that it is not only changes in serum levels of SHBG and sex steroids that are responsible for these disorders, but also alterations in the metabolic pathway. Adequate levels of circulating thyroid hormones are of primary importance for normal reproductive function. This review presents an overview of the impact of thyroid disorders on reproduction.
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