• Health & Wellness

    Consumer Health: What is postpartum thyroiditis?

a young Caucasian woman, perhaps a mother, in a polka dot blouse, looking calm, serene, or maybe sad and concerned, holding or cuddling an infant, baby in a blue onesie near her chest

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

With postpartum thyroiditis, a thyroid gland that had previously functioned normally becomes inflamed within the first year after childbirth. This is an uncommon condition.

While the exact cause of postpartum thyroiditis isn't clear, women who develop postpartum thyroiditis often have high concentrations of anti-thyroid antibodies in early pregnancy and after childbirth. As a result, it's believed that women who develop postpartum thyroiditis likely have an underlying autoimmune thyroid condition that flares after childbirth due to fluctuations in immune function.

For most women who develop postpartum thyroiditis, thyroid function eventually returns to normal — typically within 12 to 18 months of the start of symptoms. However, some women who experience postpartum thyroiditis don't recover from the hypothyroid phase. As a result, they develop hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones.

Learn more about the symptoms and risk factors for postpartum thyroiditis.