Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seeking Answers

In the midst of dealing with three pregnancy losses over the last few years I have also been struggling to understand why it sometimes seems to be difficult to get pregnant in the first place. I've always known that I had irregular cycles, but it wasn't until I started taking NFP classes that I realized just how weird they are. And then there is the frustration with doctors who do not understand NFP and barely glance at your charts when you bring them in. Just adds to the frustration.

In my area there are no NFP-only doctors. There is one about an hour or so north of us, but because I work for a university with its own health plan and its own Medical School and Medical staff, I am limited to using only the doctors in the University HMO plan. So if I want to see the NFP-only, NaPro trained doctor an hour north in Cincinnati, I would have to pay for the visit myself. I haven't gotten that desperate ... yet.

One of my frustrations is when we talk about using clomid so that I will ovulate and hopefully get pregnant. While this sounds nice (and the Church has nothing against it) I feel like we'd just be doing something to get a result I want and not really trying to fix the problem. If we can fix the problem, shouldn't I then be able to get pregnant without the help of drugs? Maybe, maybe not. But it's worth a try. My next appointment is in October. I've been referring to it as my "Clomid appointment" unless something happens naturally between now and then.

In the meantime, I've lost about 15 pounds and am now back to my weight when we got married. I still want to lose a minimum of 5 more (ideally 10). Weight issues I know can be part of the problem with irregular cycles (in some women, obviously not all). I have a history of very long cycles with occurrences of breakthrough bleeding, which just makes the cycles even longer. Once I finally do ovulate I have a luteal phase that is a very good length (13-15 days) and my temps stay up (both a good sign that my progesterone is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

If it wasn't for learning NFP and charting my cycles I wouldn't know any of this. I'd still be under the delusion that I sometimes have really long cycles and sometimes have really short cycles, not realizing that what I sometimes thought of as a period was actually breakthrough bleeding.

So, yes, the weight loss has been good. After this third loss I actually ovulated again only a two months later. A big improvement over the last two times. And so far in my current cycle, no breakthrough bleeding. But my question is, why am I not ovulating this time?

To answer that question I went back to earlier this year (before my last pregnancy) when I met with the priest who is the chaplain for the infertility group. He is also a former OB/GYN. He looked over my charts and mentioned the possibility that I could be estrogen dominant. That would explain the very long period of time between one period and the next ovulation. In a typical cycle the estrogen is dominant at the beginning, half way through it falls off and the progesterone takes over. This is when you ovulate. If no egg is fertilized and implanted, then the progesterone will fall off after 12-17 days (your luteal phase) and you'll get your period. Estrogen is back in the picture.

I didn't look into that possibility at all because I got pregnant again shortly after that meeting. But the other day I remembered that conversation and decided to do a bit of investigating. What I found was interesting. First Estrogen Dominance is most commonly thought of as an issue for women in menopause. But it's also becoming a bigger and bigger issue for all women. Mostly because of the chemicals that are all around us in our industrialized society.

Googling "estrogen dominance" brings up a lot of information, a little too much. Adding pregnancy as a search term and then doing the search again using infertility brought up some more relevant information.

An article that talked about an assortment of female problems linked to Estrogen Dominance was: Estrogen Dominance & Female Problems found on Nutrition Research Center.

A second article that I found useful was: Infertility: Estrogen Dominance on Shared Journey: Your path to Fertility.

There were plenty of other web pages out there, some with much more medical information on them. But those were also much longer. Eventually, I will go find those and read more, but these first two were a good start.

From reading these I learned a few things. Now, I'm a cautious person and I don't like to do anything without checking with my doctor first. So although supplements may be a good thing, I want to make sure that that I'm not taking too much of anything. I already take a multivitamin. So at this point, I'd like to see what other things I can do to that may make a difference until I can talk to my doctor.

First the weight loss is a help. Both articles mention that. So I'm still working on losing more. Second, there are environmental problems. There are estrogens or xenoestrogens all around is. Plastics are big culprits. As are estrogens in our water supply and just all around us, thanks in part to the *cough* wonderful *cough* Pill.

I started looking around me and realized that I eat fairly healthy, I drink mostly water so caffeine is not an issue (and I don't think I eat enough chocolate for that to be a consideration), and I do get some exercise. The only other thing is plastic. Ever thought about just how much plastic there is around you?

So I replaced the plastic cup I keep at work with a ceramic mug. I am going to get rid of the plastic-ware at my office and buy a set of real silverware to keep there. We are also going to get rid of all (or at least most) of our plastic containers and replace them with glass. We also won't microwave plastic anymore. This is probably all we can do at this point. I don't think it's possible to totally eliminate plastics from our lives.

I saw this article called "Is That Plastic Container Safe?" posted on Facebook today and it has a lot of good info on plastics. One of the most interesting was an explanation of the recycling numbers that are found on plastics. Definitely something to read and check out against the plastics in your life.

That's the current story on what I can do easily and naturally for now until I can get some advise on supplements to assist my cycles even more. But, this is also good information for all women to know about. I urge you to read the links I provided, especially if you notice any health issues in your own life.

As for plastic, any further suggestions on how we can use less plastics?


  1. Wow....never knew about the possible plastic connection. Just watch, the plastic industry will probably come out with some heartwarming commercials to prove otherwise.

    By the way, I can give you the email/phone number of the Creighton instructor and Dr. M if you at least want to chat with them. Maybe they could say, "yes, come in for one consultation and we can help," or "You should take another direction..." Just a thought!!

  2. I did some research on estrogen dominance a long time ago - really fascinating and something women really need to know about. I am so impressed at the steps you have taken to be healthy, so much more than many people ever do. The great thing is that it can't hurt, and I really, really hope it helps in the long run run. Very interesting post!