It took me a little while to decide whether or not I wanted to publish the thoughts I shared in this post, but after more than a few emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments from readers, I decided it was information that shouldn’t be kept to myself. It is a little personal at times and it has to do with both pre-pregnancy and pregnancy, so if you prefer to not read these kind of ‘honest’ posts, feel free to skip today and I will see you Monday!
Just a little disclaimer though that I am absolutely in no way a doctor. I am simply sharing my journey to let others out there struggling know they aren’t alone, to maybe provide a little advice to women wanting to conceive in the future, and to even perhaps provide another fertility option to those who have tried nearly everything else.
Also, I share numbers in this post as well because I think it helps put a little more light on what my body was going through behind the scenes. If you are someone who is uncomfortable with numbers, this may not be the best post for you!
Here on the blog, I have lightly touched on the fact that I had to wait a little while to get pregnant. My cycles were long and abnormal, my hormones were imbalanced, and after trying for months and even years with no success, it really did get a bit stressful at times. Yes, I am only 26 years old and I realize that it takes many women years and years and years to get pregnant, so please don’t think I am saying ‘poor me’ in any way. I think, however, that anytime a woman is trying to get pregnant and can’t seem to at that moment, it can leave her feeling more than a little nervous about whether her body is capable or not of getting pregnant.
Many women who are on birth control don’t realize how the artificial hormones in the drugs can mess with the natural balance. I have always had crazy cycles so I was put on birth control at 15 years old, whether I needed it or not. Unfortunately, this only masked the real issue of what was going on with my young body. Fast forward about seven years to when I stopped taking the pill and my cycle didn’t return on its own for over a year. I had read about other bloggers having Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) (for a detailed explanation of what HA is, feel free to swing by my friend Ashley’s blog who has dealt with HA in the past and now has a sweet 2 year old and another on the way!), and I started to feel like maybe I had it too due to over exercising and under eating.
Even though what I was doing seemed healthy, it may not have been the healthiest for me so I decided to decrease exercise while upping my calorie intake. In doing so, I gained about 10 pounds taking me from 115 pounds on my wedding day to roughly 125 (I am only 5′ 3″), which was honestly tough both mentally and physically for a young, active, healthy eater who yes, is also human and cares about her appearance.
Unfortunately though for me, it was not as easy as just gaining weight and cutting my exercise. My cycles still did not return even after the weight gain like it had for a lot of other girls, so my doctor thought it was best for me to take Provera to jump start my body again, as he was worried that the longer I went without a cycle the harder it would be for me to eventually get pregnant.
In a few months the medicine did work and my cycle did return, but it was extremely unpredictable – 6 months here, 3 months here, 4 months here, 2 months there… I lacked any sort of regulation at all. Because of this, I feared it would be difficult for someone like me to get pregnant. This real fear even pushed up our time frame for wanting kids a bit. We decided together that we wouldn’t think about it and keep on enjoying the newlywed life and if something happened on its own then great, but if not, we would still be young and know there is an issue that would have us looking towards the next step.
After a couple years of nothing though, I started to take the whole situation more seriously. I attempted taking my temperature, but because my cycles were so irregular, my temps went up-and-down-up-and-down with absolutely no pattern. I took ovulation indicator tests for entire 40+ day cycles and never once got a positive. After about 6 months of truly trying, I started to feel a little panicky. Since there was no prevention with no pregnancy for roughly 2 1/2 years, my doctor thought Clomid would be a good decision for us. I filled the prescription and put it in the medicine cabinet just in case. We decided to give it another 4-6 months and if nothing had happened by then, I would take the medicine.
Around this time I realized that it wasn’t just the pregnancy I wanted, but I also wanted to feel better too. I was always a little more tired than I should have been, had a hard time concentrating and just overall lacked energy for someone in her mid-20’s. I had heard of a local office called The Happy Hormone Cottage, which specializes in helping pre-menopausal women, but I also heard they work with women in their 20’s with hormonal imbalance. I prayed about it all for awhile, and after feeling a go-ahead sign in my heart, I finally decided it was worth a try.
I went in for my free consultation and then decided to move forward with the hormone testing (which cost around $350). When I sat back down with the in-office Nurse Practitioner later that month (cost around $100), I was pretty shocked by my results. Here are a few examples of my results vs. the normal range:
- Cortisol A 7.4 (normal 10.8-39.3)
- Cortisol D 3.9 (normal 6.8-20.8)
- Cortisone C 25.5 (normal 46.5-135.5)
- DHEAS 27.0 (low end of range –> normal 23-252)
- Testosterone 1.5 (normal 5.5-17.8) <– This one was a doozy! My body barely creates any testosterone at all, which can affect the balance of other hormones.
- I was also either Below or at the Low End of all of my Estrogen metabolites
Basically all of the abnormal hormone levels were causing my body to feel out of whack, and yes, I believe also affected my cycles. The NP prescribed me medications to try and regulate my irregular hormones. The medications (which cost in total around $450 for the first three months) included:
- Pre-Natal Vitamin (which I was already taking)
- DHEA (once a day)
- Vitamin D (once a day)
- Fish Oil (once a day)
- Adrenal Fatigue medication (3 a day)
- Progesterone (once a day)
Here was the result from the medication:
- The first month I didn’t feel much different, but my cycle was 32 days so I was pretty excited!
- The second month I was starting to have more energy and my cycle was 30 days! I couldn’t have been more hopeful.
- Then the third month came and my cycle never ended… 40 days came and still nothing. I felt pretty down in the dumps at this point because I thought I was on the right path and now my body was back to its old ways again… Or was it?
I had taken a lot of pregnancy tests during the last few years (that tends to happen when you have long cycles), but at the six week mark I decided to quiet my fears and just take the test to rule everything out. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that second line, I was pregnant!
Only three months after starting these medication and my body responded amazingly. It still feels hard to believe, and I know it sounds too good to be true, but I really do think going the natural medication route helped me so much. Would I have gotten pregnant without it? I honestly have no idea, but what I do know is that taking a risk and trying something a little out of the ordinary worked for me and my little family. Would it work for you as well? Again, I can’t answer that question, but of course I am hopeful that it would. I wanted to share my story in case you feel at the end of the road and perhaps a more natural route may be able to help you as well. The shop I used is local, but they might do long distance counseling as well, or there may be a similar shop near you that you could look into.
Again, I am no expert, but if you have any questions for me feel free to leave them in the comments section below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will do my best to respond both as quickly and honestly as I can! My hope is that I’ve been given my tough moments so I can help support others on their own rocky road too.