Increasing my progesterone naturally

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Pictured: Fertility Goddess, Pakistan, 2nd century

I have decided to try taking some supplements to increase my progesterone. I had a level of 8 on my Day 21 labs. I have been reading that it should be above 15. So I started taking Vitex and Evening Primrose Oil today (along with my prenatal Vitamin, Fish Oil, and baby aspirin that I take daily). I have been reading that low progesterone can cause PMS symptoms (I tend to have a LOT of PMS symptoms, including major tiredness, headaches, depression, sore breasts, and sometimes even hot flashes). So I will keep you updated to let you know whether these supplements help. I have been reading that Evening Primrose Oil should only be taken before ovulation, because it can cause miscarriage (due to the effect of uterine contractions). So I will only take that one up to ovulation, and then stop. Vitex can be taken throughout the month.

Anyone else have this issue with low progesterone?

Here is some info about Vitex and Evening Primrose Oil:

Vitex… Fertility Super Herb?

Enhance Overall Fertility with Evening Primrose

Unexplained Infertility

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We just got back from our second appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist. After a battery of blood tests, HSG for me, and 2 different semen tests, the only thing that came back abnormal was my progesterone level (slightly low). So we have unexplained infertility. The doctor said that we would likely be able to get pregnant on our own, if we just keep trying. But if we choose to, we can proceed with fertility drugs and IUI. The ball is in our court.

This is comforting. However, it still doesn’t explain why we haven’t conceived in the last 13 months.

The appointment was helpful for my husband. He had mentally pretty much given up. He was going through the motions every month (reluctantly), each month thinking that if it hadn’t happened by now, there was no chance of us getting pregnant on our own. But the doctor said that we have probably a 10-15% chance of conceiving every month right now, about the same with IUI. So this gave my husband a deeper understanding and renewed hope. (YAY!)

Now I wonder, what’s next? Do we keep trying the old fashioned way? Do we go for the IUI? The other thing that adds pressure to the situation is the fact that my husband is actively looking for another job. And in his chosen career (he is a track coach), that could mean that we have to move across the country, possibly to a place that doesn’t have fertility specialists. We used to live in such a place, a very rural area. Right now, we live in a big city, with every resource at our fingertips. But my husband is not happy with his current job situation.

So my line of thinking is, we should get started on fertility treatments while we have this insurance and these resources. I don’t want to wait 6 months and then we aren’t pregnant, and then we are thinking of moving (possibly to a rural area).

We have some soul searching to do. Anyone else with unexplained infertility, I would love to hear from you. Did you end up conceiving on your own? Did treatments work for you? How long did everything take?

In the meantime, I am going to do some research on how to naturally raise my progesterone levels. Any ideas on that are welcome as well!

Thanks for reading,

-A

Coping Mechanisms

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I have been making great progress lately in learning to live happier through this infertility journey, and I wanted to share some of the things that are really helping me. I know that everyone is different, and these things may not be one-size-fits-all.

Yoga.

Yoga is transforming me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I have been practicing yoga 2-3 times per week for about 2 months. While I am doing yoga, I am completely present. I am not able to think of anything else. I am able to reach a state of deep relaxation afterward (in fact, I feel so relaxed that I worry that I am unsafe to drive back home)! I feel that I have more patience now: with myself, with work, and at home. I am developing core and arm strength that I did not have before. Yoga has taken my free floating anxiety level way down. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone dealing with anxiety/depression due to infertility. It has been a huge game changer for me!

This blog.

This blog is so helpful for me. Just reading your comments and your blog posts has been so encouraging and eye-opening. I feel a freedom that I never felt before. Thank you everyone who has read my posts and commented! I feel so much less alone!

Music.

Lady Gaga’s new album is my jam right now. I am loving it so much. Music really helps me get through. I also recommend Birdy- she has a soulful voice and very deep songwriting.

Seeing the specialist.

I have new hope after seeing the specialist. It has been a long wait until my second appointment, which will be November 1. But all the labs that have come back for both of us have been normal so far. So I am just waiting. I am really hoping that aunt flo doesn’t come this month, I have been wishing and hoping that this is our month since I had my hsg done. However, I get super hopeful every month, so this is nothing new. I should temper my hopes, and not get so hopeful, but I can’t help it.

Well, that’s it my friends. That’s all I have for now. More to come.

HSG

I had my hsg this morning. I wasn’t too concerned and didn’t think it would be a big deal. Well, boy was I wrong. After the nurse midwife put in the catheter and inflated it, I experienced some of the worst pain of my life. I had nothing to hold onto, so I gripped the exam table and wiggled my toes a lot, writhing in pain. I thought I was going to pass out, and got all pale and sweaty. Tears were coming out of my eyes. The major cramping did subside after a few minutes. They then injected the dye, which did not hurt at all. The radiologist said that he thought my tubes were open, but they would have to look at the images closer. I am glad that is over.

Hello aunt flo.

Well, I was really hoping that I would somehow be pregnant this month. So many message boards I have read have people who say they made their appointment with their fertility specialist, but then got pregnant that month and ended up not needing any fertility treatments. Sadly, that is not me.

The two week wait is always a difficult time for me. I try to ignore my thoughts of “What if this is the month?”, I try to ignore my PMS symptoms, which are similar to pregnancy symptoms. I always get tired, I have sore breasts, I have cramping/twinges at times, and then I get emotional/hormonal. This month my PMS was worse than normal- I had horrible hot flashes 1-2 days before my period started. They only last 30 seconds or so, but they are intense. Is this menopause starting? More reminders of my infertility. I was so weepy for 2-3 days before my period. I was crying at nothing. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. I guess I knew my period was coming, and that I actually have to go through with this fertility treatment thing. I am coming to grips with my diagnosis.

I am mad at myself for being so anxious and depressed. I am mad at myself for being so emotional. I am frustrated at myself for being so withdrawn at times. My husband is frustrated with me, and doesn’t understand my intense emotions. He is logically hopeful that we are finally going to get some answers. I am a wreck because of all of the uncertainty. I am hoping he can support me in the way I need, and that we can continue to grow in our relationship. This problem is bringing other problems we have out into the light, and we are both working on things to help each other feel more loved.

I know that I have a lot of great blessings in my life. It has been hard to focus on those blessings lately due to my intense emotions. I know that I need to somehow find a way to be thankful for every moment of my life, because life is a gift. I need to enjoy the life that is right in front of me. I have an amazing husband, 2 of the cutest dogs on this earth, family and friends that care about me, a wonderful career and job, a wonderful home, I live in one of the most pleasant places in the U.S., and I don’t have financial problems. I can afford fertility treatment/adoption costs. Many people cannot.

This month brings more tests, including the HSG. I am going to try to pull myself out of my funk, and find some positivity. Yoga has been very helpful for me in the past several weeks…I just need to do more of it. I am thinking about acupuncture (although my insurance will not cover it, and it is expensive).

This was sort of a rant, but that is where I have been. I am hoping to develop more of a warrior attitude in the coming days and weeks. I need to let go of all of the self-pity, sadness, jealousy, and melancholy, and just accept that this is what is happening. I have to make the most out of my situation. Sometimes when I read other people’s blogs, it is comforting to see that they feel these same emotions. So I hope if you are in the same boat, that this post makes sense to you and that you can say “Amen, sister.”

-A

This week.

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I went to the reproductive endocrinologist for my first appointment this week. She seems like a wonderful doctor. She is from Taiwan and probably in her 60s. I felt very comfortable with her, even during the transvaginal ultrasound!

I have a good normal amount of follicles in both ovaries. She said this is a sign of ovarian reserve, and that money can’t buy this! I was so relieved to hear that.

My husband’s sperm is totally normal. (!!!)

So this means that so far, everything is looking very normal. I am relieved to hear all of these things. However, it doesn’t explain why we haven’t conceived after a year.

I have more blood tests and my husband has more blood tests to do. I am doing an HSG test next month. I don’t know what to expect for that. Should I drive myself to and from? Will I be able to go to work afterward? Any comments or sharing of personal experiences with this procedure are welcome!

I broke down in the car after my appointment. I was crying happy tears. I was relieved mainly about the ovarian reserve situation. But I’m still cautiously optimistic.

Now I am in my fertile window. As usual, it is difficult to get my husband interested in baby making during the fertile window. (Anyone else experience this??). It makes me crazy. Any advice about this is well appreciated!!!

Another change. I have to give up caffeine. I love coffee so much. I only drink one cup per day, but this cup is vital to my mood in the morning. My doctor also wants me to take fish oil and baby aspirin in addition to the prenatal vitamins I have been taking for a year.

Thanks for reading. I feel like I am baring my soul here.

-A

Infertility

Hello world. I am starting this blog to have a safe place where I can open up about my infertility. For now, I would like to remain somewhat anonymous, since this is a sensitive subject for me. I’ll give you some information about myself.

I’m 32 years old. I am married, with 2 dogs. My husband is my best friend, and just a great human being overall. I am a new homeowner. I have a master’s degree. I work in the health care field. I am healthy. I am a former serious athlete, but now my exercise is mainly a way to stay healthy and keep my sanity. I am an overachiever, and I have been this way my whole life. I was a valedictorian of my high school and I graduated as the top student in my master’s program. Anytime I have had a goal, I have gone after it and achieved it. I have never really failed at anything… until now.

We have been trying to conceive (TTC, as they call it on the internet) for 12 months now. Twelve heartbreaking months. Each month is a rollercoaster of hope, anxiety, monitoring of physical signs, timed passionless intimacy, waiting, obsessing over PMS symptoms (which are similar to early pregnancy symptoms), prayer, denial, bargaining, disappointment, and acceptance. It is like having the stages of grief over and over again, month after month. It starts to erode your confidence, self-esteem, your relationship with your spouse, your happiness at work and at home. You stop wanting to socialize. You stop wanting to be around people who have children. Since it is such a personal struggle, it feels awkward to tell anyone about it. So I have suffered in silence. When I do tell someone about it, they say things like “It will happen. Just relax. Don’t think about it, and it will happen. Go out and have some wine or a margarita. That’s how I got pregnant.” These suggestions diminish what it is like to live through this, month after month. It feels like somehow it has been my fault that we haven’t conceived, maybe I’m not relaxed enough, so I am preventing it somehow. It doesn’t help. What I have needed are listening ears, and sympathy.

Since we have been trying for a year, it is time to get evaluated by a specialist. My first appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist is this week. I feel relieved that hopefully we will find some answers and start to actively solve this problem. I am also scared to find the answers. I am scared that the last 12 months was a waste of time. I am scared that we have an even longer road ahead. I am scared of losing all of our savings and still not having a baby to show for it. I am scared of medical procedures, needles, side effects of medications, and complications. I am scared of having a pregnancy and then a miscarriage. I’m scared, but I must have courage. I must use my strength. And I must not give up hope.

I am starting this blog to hopefully find more people out there who are going through this. Maybe my words will be of some comfort to you. I know that it is comforting to find others who feel the same feelings that you do. It’s normal to feel these things as you go through the journey of infertility. A journey that only 10% of us will go through. The other 90% do not have a clue. I hope to find more of you out there to connect with through this blog. Please comment if you can.

Wishing you strength and peace. I chose the lotus picture for this post because of the symbolism of the lotus. The lotus must grow through thick mud in order to bloom. It represents overcoming adversity, and purity. I find it to be a comforting symbol for me.

-A

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