Monday, March 12, 2012

Infertility

infertility Take a quick tour around the blogosphere and you will come across an amazing number of women who have either struggled or are struggling with infertility.  It’s a painful topic and intensely personal which we often bear in silence.  After all, infertility isn’t exactly something our friends and family can help with and really who wants to share those sorts of intimate details with just anyone.

I know I’ve talked about my own personal struggle with infertility before but after having read a couple of more blogs I feel the need to share it again.

Why?  Because everyone seems to dismiss what I have to say as “oh that worked for you but won’t for me” or “my doctor would have told me about it”.

When it comes to a wide variety of subjects most of us seem to accept that sometimes natural medical choices are better for us than what we have been offered traditionally by the medical profession.   Why isn’t that the case with infertility?  Sure we’ll cut down our caffeine intake but try progesterone cream.. that’s just crazy.

To recap my own story, we went two years without being able to conceive.  Finally we did fertility tests.  I went through the most excruciating test of having ink shot up my tubes to see if they were scarred, I had an arthroscopy to rule out endometriosis (although I had no symptoms of it) and three months of fertility drugs. 

I did a ton of research on everything from PCOS to ovulation. I learned more about a woman’s monthly cycle than I ever wanted to.  I tracked my Basil Body Temperature religiously every morning and kept charts.  What emerged was a pattern of delayed ovulation and a slight.. very slight possibility of a luteal phase defect.

A luteal phase is the time in a woman’s cycle between ovulation and menstruation. In a pregnant woman, during the luteal phase the fertilized egg will travel from the fallopian tube and into the uterus for implantation. The luteal phase is normally 14 days long and on an average it can be anywhere from 10 to 17 days long. If your luteal phase lasts anything under 10 days it is considered a luteal phase defect. But some doctors believe that if the luteal phase falls under 12 days, then it is a problem. If you conceive and you have a luteal phase defect, you will have an early miscarriage.

A luteal phase defect cannot sustain a pregnancy because the uterine lining in these women begins to break down, bringing on the menstrual bleeding and causing an early miscarriage. There could be more than one reason for the luteal phase defect which can be found out after medical analysis. Going by statistics, the number one reason for a luteal phase defect is low progesterone levels. Your doctor can do a progesterone test on you 7 days past ovulation to determine exactly how deficient you are. Once you know that there are several ways of correcting this defect.

Causes of Luteal Phase Defect

The three main causes of luteal phase defect include poor follicle production, premature demise of the corpus luteum, and failure of the uterine lining to respond to normal levels of progesterone. These problems occur at different times during the cycle but can also be found in conjunction with each other.

Correction of Luteal Phase Defect

Fertility charting is an easy way of detecting whether you have luteal phase defect. If you do, don’t worry because luteal phase defect can be easily corrected. Immediately seek the advice of your physician first before starting any treatments to correct it. In most case, luteal phase defect can be corrected through over-the-counter remedies and/or with prescription drugs.

1. Over the counter remedies for luteal phase defect:
The two main over the counter remedies for luteal phase defect are vitamin B6 and progesterone cream. Vitamin B6 is generally regarded as safe and can be taken daily in dosages from 50 mg to 100mg. Taking vitamin B6 every day during the entire month will help to lengthen the luteal phase.   Please note that taking mega doses  of vitamin B6 can lead to serious medical issues.  Be sure to check with your doctor before using vitamin B-6 to increase the length of your luteal phase  to make sure it is the best option for you.

A progesterone cream is usually targeted for menopausal women; however this cream is also useful in lengthening the luteal phase. A cream with natural progesterone works best. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of progesterone cream spread on the inner arm, inner thigh, neck, and chest – alternating places – twice a day from ovulation to menstruation or until the 10th week of pregnancy.

article information from http://www.babyhopes.com/articles/luteal-phase-defect.html

Ten years ago this information wasn’t that easy to find even on the internet and when I brought it to my fertility doctor’s attention he said maybe there was one…. but didn’t really think so.  I started reading information from Dr. John Lee, a well known medical expert on treating menopausal women and in fact it was in one of his lectures where he relates sharing an experience he had with an infertile patient of his.

He prescribed progesterone and recommended that the patient use it for the entire month for several months to help bring up her body hormonal levels etc.  After that the recommendation was to wait until ovulation has occurred and then use progesterone cream on a daily basis until the end of the the cycle.  Once you’ve established you are not pregnant by taking a home pregnancy test then you discontinue using the progesterone cream so you will have a normal period.  

Well.. I tell you I provided this information to my family doctor and while he was skeptical he agreed to prescribe for me since it wouldn’t harm me either.

Impatient I couldn’t wait the month of and using one of those Clearplan Fertility monitors I tracked my cycle until I knew I was ovulating and started using the cream as prescribed.  Sure enough I ovulated on Day 18 not day 14 like they say and considering you need 10 + days for an egg to fertilize and implant etc. obviously I was ovulating too late in my cycle to get pregnant.  The progesterone cream helped my body produce enough progesterone in time to promote the right conditions for implantation.  After two plus years of waiting I got pregnant the very first month I was on the cream.

My mom said maybe it was a fluke.  I knew better but I wasn’t going to argue with the skeptics.  So when I was unable to get pregnant with my second child, I went off to my doctor for a prescription again.  His only comment was… “didn’t you get pregnant on this the last time”  You bet I did.  And sure enough, one month of cream and I was pregnant again.

Since then I have shared what I have learned with fellow friends who are struggling with unexplained infertility.  Not one of them will consider the progesterone cream even though it worked for me.  Why? I really don’t know. 

This isn’t some crazy off the cuff made up therapy.  Luteal Phase Defect is a real condition which is under diagnosed by the medical profession. Hormone imbalances itself are difficult to diagnose because at every stage of our cycle we need different levels of estrogen and progesterone.  If you get screened early in the month you might have the right levels and so the diagnosticians state your hormones are in line.  However, had you had it taken nearer the end of the month it’s just possible those levels might not have been in line. 

Not only that every one’s body is different.  While my levels were low they were considered to be within the range.  Obviously for my body within range wasn’t good enough.

I realize that progesterone cream may not be the answer for everyone but if you have unexplained infertility, I would seriously consider it or at least look into the possibility of a luteal phase defect.  Pop that term into google and you will be surprised by plethora of information there is out there.

That’s my story. 

Zeemaid

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you're sharing this. I hope it helps some one else too.

    ReplyDelete

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