I don’t know if I will ever post this. If you are reading this, you have either hacked into my blog publishing website or I have, in fact, posted it. Part of me is writing this so I can keep my own head on straight when it comes to the tests, dates, timing, points in my cycle, results, results over time, data points, etc. If it ends up helping someone, great.
Josh and I were blessed to get pregnant in month 1 with Oakley. B L E S S E D. I am a huge advocate for women and infertility, I have been since before she was born. The number of people, family, friends, strangers on the internet, etc who would ask, DAILY, “so, when are you having kids”, just set me off. It’s 2021. Stop asking women and couples that. You literally have no idea what people are going through behind closed doors. Off my soapbox.
By the time Oakley was 8 months old, we decided to start trying for baby 2. I am not getting any younger and we knew we at least wanted 2 babies, maybe even 3. But we would be beyond grateful for the rest of our lives if we were only blessed with Oakley. My cycle was very, very regular, every 30 days to be exact since she was 3 months old. Month 1 of trying resulted in a negative test. To say I was upset would be an understatement but I have a few friends who tried for years for baby 2 after having success the first month with baby 1.
I also would like to note I was using an ovulation tracker and also tracking my basal temperature, although that is difficult to take right upon waking when I was waking up to a baby still sleeping in our room (you are supposed to take it in bed without moving after 3 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep). Month 2 rolls around with a second negative test. Each time I, of course, was late by a day which is just the icing on the cake.
At the beginning of my cycle after the second month of trying, I called my OB to request blood work. My doctor asked if my cycle was regular- yes. My doctor asked how long we had been trying- I said 2 months. He was reluctant to call in blood work as most insurance companies won’t cover until you have been trying for at least 6 months. I told the doctor that I didn’t want to wait another 4 months to get blood work to see if something was wrong. I told him I would pay out of pocket if I had to. He called in the labs and I needed to get blood drawn on day 3 of my cycle and day 21. Day 1 is the first start of your bleed BTW.
I was also very clear with my doctor that I was not getting any younger and I didn’t want 6 months or a year to go by in case something was off. I wanted to find out and I wanted to find out as soon as I could. Sometimes you have to be your loudest advocate, never forget that!
As mentioned above, the biggest concern I had was not getting pregnant for several months. I also would like to take a moment to address this: I am beyond grateful for my baby. If she was the only one I would be blessed with, I was 100% ok with that and had 100% accepted that. I also am not deaf to the fact that some women go years without getting pregnant. I am not saying “woe is me, pity me”, I am simply sharing my story. This is not meant to trigger anyone, in any way.
So, the fertility concerns were a red flag for me, especially given my VERY regular periods and not being on birth control, obviously. My other concerns included: chronic fatigue every day around 2-3 pm, mood swings, general loss of excitement in things that would have otherwise made me happy, low sex drive, night sweats, anxious thoughts, etc. It felt like I was right back to being immediately postpartum and I just knew something was off.
Tests and Results
Day 3 Testing
Luckily my day 3 testing fell on a Friday, I was nervous with the lab schedule not being open on Saturday or Sunday if I was going to have to wait until day 5 but I didn’t. I was tested for estradiol, prolactin, t3 free, t4 free, TSH, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Everything came back on the low end of “standard” (minus the FSH) aka if you are alive. This concerned me because I do not want to be on the low end of normal, I want to be functioning at an optimal level. After a lot of research and counsel with a few of my friends who specialize in hormone therapy, it was suggested to try to reduce stress (and not just work stress but body stress), so I decided to take an entire week off from the gym as well as eat in a surplus (200-300 calories above maintenance). Obviously, nothing is going to be fixed after a week or even a month but it was a great start.
Day 21 of your cycle should be able to tell if you have ovulated or not based on your progesterone levels. We tested again for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, plus a lot of nutrients, a metabolic panel, white blood cells, platelet counts, hemoglobin, plus about 20 other data points. I would prefer to keep some of my results private as I do not want anyone to compare their blood work to mine. Please discuss your results with your doctor.
On the last day of my cycle, I went to a wellness center that Josh also goes to to get additional testing to compare by day 28 to my day 3 results. They also drew blood for other various data points as well that weren’t drawn in the Day 3 labs. I also was screened again for the same labs that were drawn on my Day 3 cycle so we could compare the start of my cycle to the end of my cycle. My thyroid numbers were all still low as was my estrogen based on the time of my cycle. Again, I will be keeping the remaining data points private but the majority were not optimal when it came to my hormones.
For the first 2 months, I was using a popular brand of ovulation test strips that was not detecting my LH spike. Once I spoke with my OB, a nurse suggest I switch tests to these! She also suggested to start testing the day after my period was over as many women who struggle to conceive actually ovulate days sooner than they thought, which means they could be missing their fertile window. Ever since suggesting these on my instagram, I have had dozens of women message me telling me they got pregnant after the first month of using the new test + testing sooner. And ALL of them said they were ovulating sooner than anticipated. Maybe it will work for you too!
Products / Ingredients to Avoid
Based on MY blood work, mainly having an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) and low estrogen the entire cycle, I consulted with several of my friends who specialize in this plus did a ton of research on my own. What I found- of the dozen “hormone health” supplements on the market- ALL of them would have made my situation WORSE. This is why it is IMPERATIVE to get blood work done BEFORE you buy anything online that promises to either get you pregnant, reduce period symptoms, help with your hormones, etc. Based on your blood work, ask your doctor what they recommend and if a product you are interested in would benefit you. Please don’t make your situation worse just because you want to try something that someone sells (with little context as to who should actually be taking it).
Supplements I Started Taking (all doctor approved)
Thyroid Health– see “boron”
B12- I am now getting weekly B12 injections as injections are superior to pills as you bypass the digestion process. Mine are $27 for 4 a month. If you don’t have a clinic near you that will administer them, here is a high-quality product on the market that you may want to try IF you have low B vitamins
Boron– Boron seems to affect the way the body handles other minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. It also seems to increase estrogen levels in older (post-menopausal) women and healthy men. Estrogen is thought to be helpful in maintaining healthy bones and mental function. We need magnesium to convert the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. Without this conversion, cells do not receive the more potent form of thyroid hormone. Therefore, when magnesium levels are low, our thyroid is not able to function correctly.
Ingredients to Avoid
MACA- “Maca is not currently associated with any health risks in most people and is unlikely to cause any side effects in moderate doses. However, due to its effect on hormones, people with thyroid problems should avoid taking maca. It is also better to avoid taking maca when undergoing treatments that modify hormonal levels, such as treatments for breast cancer”. Source
DIM- “While DIM is often used to support hormone balance in premenopausal women, it also may cause hormonal disturbances. While DIM can lead to positive effects on various types of hormone-sensitive cancers, it can also lead to negative ones. The perfect example of this duality can be found in these two studies. According to a study in “Thyroid” in March 2011, DIM has an anti-estrogenic effect, which may reduce the risk of developing thyroid cancer. But, on the other hand, a report in “BMC Cancer” in July 2014 found that DIM stimulates the growth of certain breast cancer cells. This is why more research needs to be done to get the nitty-gritty details of dosage, hormone interactions, etc”. Source
Myo-Inositol- “In all other infertile patients, myo-inositol will lower androgens from normal into abnormally low levels or in women with premature ovarian aging (POA), also called occult primary ovarian insufficiency (oPOI), and women with hypo-androgenic PCOS-like phenotypes (H-PCOS), both already based on their diagnoses hypo-androgenic, supplementing such patients will lower already low testosterone levels even further. And since ovaries need good androgen levels in order to produce good egg numbers and good egg quality, administration of myo-inositol in such patients will achieve exactly the opposite effects on ovaries as desired”. Source
Just to name a few ingredients- please, please, please consult with the person who ran your labs. They may give you the AOK on whatever product you want to try. They may recommend you wait after you have a few more months of labs. They may tell you to avoid it altogether. I am so grateful I have the resources I do to steer me in the right direction. I know it can seem like “it’s too good to be true” when it comes to some of the supplement companies on the market and what they promise. This is why it’s so important to run everything you want to take by your doctor. Making issues worse is not the goal here! Let’s make them better! Also, the above ingredients to avoid were for ME and my blood work. Products that contain those ingredients may work great for others who have the exact opposite blood work that I do! Just something to keep in mind 🙂
Breast Implant Illness
After a slight diet change, additional rest days from the gym, the additional supplements listed above, and my weekly B12 shots, I feel about 80% better and I know that will only continue to go up. As soon as I opened up on Instagram about a few of the symptoms that I listed above, the amount of very aggressive messages I received about BII was astonishing. I even had women telling me if I didn’t remove them, I was essentially signing a death certificate and I didn’t care about my daughter at all. Let’s discuss this. According to the FDA, BII occurs in 1 in 3,000 – 30,000. A lot of women who explant often do not have relief from their symptoms as their implants were not the actual cause of the issue- they just felt pressure from this cult-like group. Not everyone who has explanted is like this, but the internet can be very loud. I received about a dozen messages from women saying they removed their implants (without getting any blood work done at all, and their symptoms did not improve aka the implants weren’t the issue). If you are experiencing symptoms like I mentioned above, I recommend blood work and a few months of trying holistic approaches to see if your symptoms improve. Explanting is a major surgery and if your implants aren’t the issue, there’s no need to put your body through that. I am so glad I listened to my gut (not that I would have undergone surgery based on a few social media “doctors”), but it is a mind game when people are TELLING you what is wrong with you. Is it real for some? Yes. But please get blood work done first. I am off my soapbox now.
I hope this blog, if nothing else, lets you know you aren’t alone. I hope it gives you a starting point if you want to call your doctor and ask for labs. I hope it helps in some way!