My Story

Diagnosis

Posted by Juno on June 01, 2011

 


After six months of attempting to chart my cycles with no success (and no pregnancy), I did what doctors suggest and reluctantly went to my first Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). 


“The fertility process is complex in both men and women, and the inability to conceive affects nearly 10% of couples trying to have a baby. About half of these couples will be able to achieve pregnancy with treatment. This may involve treatment of the woman, the man, and sometimes both partners.
When attempting conception, one has to keep in mind that even the most fertile couples only have around a 20-25% chance of conception per cycle.
It is estimated that in the U.S. over 10% of women between the ages of 15 to 44, or about 6.2 million women, have impaired fertility.
If you or your partner do have some relevant condition, or if you are 35-40, see a specialist after only six months. If you are over 40, see a specialist after 3 months of trying.


Key points:
• Infertility is far more common that most people think
• It is just as likely to be caused by the man as by the woman
• Age is a major contributor to female factor infertility
• Lifestyle habits can cause or contribute to infertility
• There are many forms of infertility treatment, some are simple and inexpensive.”

                            -Alice D. Domar, PhD    { http://www.bewell.com/ArticleDetail.aspx?id=172&type=1}

I had a million questions for him.  Was my tipped uterus a problem?  (no)  Did sexual position matter? (not really, try many)  How bout the allergy pills I was taking?  (not a problem)  Was drinking alcohol regularly a problem? (he didn’t seem to think so)  What about caffeine?  (yes, some studies suggested it played a role, so try to limit it to a cup a day.  That was already my limit). How about social smoking?  (couldn’t hurt to stop).  None of the info seemed very conclusive.

And he had a battery of questions for me.  Had I ever been pregnant? (nope)  Were my cycles regular?  (no, but I figured that was a result of my demanding travel schedule for work.  Travel always threw off my cycle).  He seemed perplexed and probed further.  And now that I thought about it, my cycles had been irregular since I was in my 20’s.  Whenever I’d go off the pill, I’d notice skipped periods or long cycles (40 days), I’d then panic, fear I was pregnant (ha!), and immediately hop back on the Pill.  Turns out, I was masking an ovulation disorder. 

I was diagnosed with “hypothalamic dysfunction”
http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/h/hypothalamic_dysfunction/intro.htm

The RE told me this meant my hypothalamus was not triggering my ovaries to begin a cycle, which meant my ovaries were not making enough estrogen to produce and release a mature egg, which meant I did not ovulate and went months without my period.  But the RE could NOT tell me what to do to FIX the problem (other than take fertility drugs). 

I was totally demoralized to learn my body couldn’t even get to the starting point!  Obviously, without an egg, it would be impossible to get pregnant.  I spent the next two and a half years trying to get my hypothalamus to cooperate through yoga, diet, herbs, supplements, acupuncture, nutrition, prayer, visualization, and fertility drugs.

• Explanation of traditional medical procedures for ovulation disorders:
http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/ovulation-disorders

• Suggested herbal remedies to assist with fertility:
http://www.sharedjourney.com/nat/herbal.html


But here’s the wackiest part.  Now, nine years after seeing that first RE, my cycles are completely normal:  regular periods, every 27-30 days.  In other words my hypothalamic dysfunction resolved itself.  Yes, I drink much less alcohol and caffeine now (a couple of glasses of wine – or a margarita – now per week and only decaf).  I haven’t snuck a drag of a cigarette in seven years and I’m much more conscious of what I eat (read: kale). No doctor told me that fixing my issue without drugs was even possible when I was going through fertility treatment.  Had I known that, I would have been much more hopeful.  I’m here to tell you, ovulatory issues don’t have to be permanent.