Certain risk factors may increase the risk of hypothyroidism. These may include being older and female, taking certain medications, and more.

Some individuals have a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism. For example, females develop hypothyroidism more often than males. Older age is another common risk factor for this condition.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that help the body use energy. These hormones support important functions like breathing and digestion. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not make enough of these hormones. This can slow down a number of bodily functions.

This article will take a closer look at hypothyroidism risk factors.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Females have a higher risk of developing this condition than males.

According to the Office of Women’s Health, 1 in 8 females will develop thyroid issues at some point.

A 2020 study also found that elevated body mass index and blood pressure in females can increase this risk further.

Learn about hypothyroidism.

Certain medical treatments can also increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism. These may include surgeries, medications, and other treatments.


Some surgical procedures can elevate the risk of hypothyroidism. One such procedure is a thyroidectomy. This surgery involves removing a part of or the whole thyroid gland.

Researchers have found that this procedure can lead to temporary hypothyroidism when part of the thyroid is removed. It can lead to permanent hypothyroidism if the entire thyroid is removed.

A lobectomy surgery can also trigger cases of hypothyroidism. In this surgery, a surgeon removes one of the thyroid gland’s two lobes.

Lobectomy is a common treatment for individuals with thyroid cancer. However, research has shown that this surgery can lead to hypothyroidism.

Learn more about thyroid cancer treatment.

Radioactive iodine

Radioactive iodine is another treatment that may be a risk factor for hypothyroidism. This treatment is a common choice for other thyroid conditions, like thyroid cancer and Graves’ disease.

A 2018 study found that 32.9% of people who received radioactive iodine treatment developed hypothyroidism within 1 year. They found that this was more common among male participants.


A number of other medications can also heighten the risk of hypothyroidism. These may include:

Research from 2018 also found that certain medications for epilepsy can lead to hypothyroidism. These medications include phenytoin (Dilantin) and gabapentin.

To learn more about how past treatments can affect the risk of hypothyroidism, speak with a healthcare professional.

Certain medical conditions can be risk factors for hypothyroidism. These can include having a goiter, Turner syndrome, and inflammatory conditions.


A goiter involves unusual swelling of the thyroid. This may occur as a result of iodine deficiency. It may also develop in individuals with Graves’ disease or Hashimoto thyroiditis.

Individuals with a history of goiter may have a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can also increase the risk of hypothyroidism.

Learn more about goiters.

Hashimoto thyroiditis

Hashimoto thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that causes damage to the thyroid.

This damage reduces the amount of hormone the thyroid gland can produce. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Learn more about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Turner syndrome

Turner syndrome is a genetic condition that affects the X chromosome. This condition can cause damage to many different organs. It may also be a risk factor for hypothyroidism.

A 2018 study involving people with Turner syndrome showed that almost 40% of these individuals had a thyroid condition. Of these, about 13% had hypothyroidism.

Learn more about Turner syndrome.


The term “thyroiditis” describes conditions that cause thyroid gland inflammation. Thyroiditis may develop as a result of infections, autoimmune diseases, or taking certain medications. In some cases, thyroiditis can lead to temporary or permanent hypothyroidism.

A family history of thyroid conditions can be a risk factor for hypothyroidism.

Individuals with thyroid conditions may have genetic changes that lead to these conditions. Their children or grandchildren may also inherit these changes.

Hypothyroidism is more common among older individuals.

People over age 60 have an increased risk of this condition. This may be due to the increased risk of thyroiditis that comes with age.

Pregnancy can lead to a number of different thyroid conditions. For example, some individuals develop an enlarged thyroid gland during pregnancy.

Hormone changes during pregnancy may also lead to hypothyroidism. Without proper treatment, this condition could have negative effects on a developing fetus. To learn more about the risk of hypothyroidism during pregnancy, speak with a healthcare professional.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This can negatively affect many different systems in the body.

Certain risk factors can increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism. Being female and older both increase the risk of hypothyroidism. A history of certain medical conditions can also cause a thyroid disorder like hypothyroidism.

Individuals at risk of hypothyroidism should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more. They can provide targeted guidance about risk factors. They can also recommend preventive measures to help mitigate the risk of hypothyroidism.