Fertility After Loss Journey: The Results

April 1, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"Work on being in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much, but is still standing."

A week ago, I saw my OBGYN, Dr. C, to discuss the uterine ultrasound exam, blood work, and the next steps for TTC. Additionally, I didn't get a call back about my pap smear, making it safe to say that it went well (I would have been notified otherwise).

My goal for these tests were to identify the cause of fertility issues years before and after we lost Elijah to stillbirth in 2016. We have not yet had a subsequent pregnancy.

I also wanted to know if I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which would explain why I had  super irregular periods/unexplained infertility. I had such high hopes that there would be clear and definitive answers, especially since I had not seen a doctor for years concerning my reproductive health. The results were... disappointing. Well, at least for me it was.

The pelvic exam went well, Dr. C said that everything felt "normal." The ultrasound exam turns out to be another "normal appearance." The only thing that I could count on that wasn't normal were the "slightly elevated levels of testosterone" found in the blood tests. I asked Dr. C if the levels were enough to say that I had PCOS, but she shook her head and said, "No."

This might sound stupid, but I would have been happy to find out that I did have PCOS. Knowing this would help me understand what was "wrong," so that I could do what was "right." Instead, these tests were showing that my body is normal, when I have felt, seen, and experienced everything other than normal! I just wanted some sort of diagnosis; I wanted something to blame. I wanted to blame something for the reason why I had to work so hard to get pregnant. I wanted a name. I wanted a reason...

I tried to get a diagnosis out of Dr. C, but all she could say was that we just weren't catching ovulation day. Since my periods were unpredictable, it would make it difficult to plan sex or to know when I was ovulating. She also said that even though my periods were farther apart (it could range from 31 days to 98+ days), it was still good enough to have at least four periods a year. However, if she HAD to give me a diagnosis, she would lightly use the term PCOS to describe my symptoms. Still, these answers were unsatisfying and left me emotionally wounded.

Maybe I should be grateful that there was nothing deadly serious found or that my worst fear of being barren for life was cleared, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed.

Now, the next steps.

Dr. C suggested a couple of medications I could take to encourage pregnancy. The first one was obvious (I have heard of it before), which was Clomid. I have seen and read about Clomid on many TTC forums years ago, but didn't think that there would come a day that I would consider it. Dr. C mentioned that there was a risk of conceiving twins because Clomid stimulates ovulation/more releasing of the eggs. I wouldn't have minded having twins...

The second mediation was Letrozole, commonly used for breast cancer patients, which like Clomid, induces ovulation. There aren't major differences between the two, but hearing Dr. C talk about planning sex and using these medications as a fertility treatment wasn't what I had wanted. Planning sex would be too stressful, especially if my hopes went overboard, and I didn't want to suffer any long-term effects.

I asked Dr. C if there was a way to lower my testosterone levels and she said that exercise and nutrition might help. Interestingly enough, I agreed. I wanted to stay as natural as possible, and that if necessary, I would revisit to start the treatments. For now, I wanted to focus on health and nutrition. Over the years, I have been geared towards the holistic route.

The next day, I saw a nutritionist, who gave me all of the basics about food. However, she really hadn't said anything I didn't already know: how to portion my food, how many calories I needed, the kinds of meals I should eat, etc. Unfortunately, she didn't have any advice on foods/diets that encourage fertility health, which was what I was looking for.

After my visit with Dr. C and the nutritionist, I feel more empowered to take charge of my own health and fertility. I did not receive the answers I wanted, however, I am being directed to a more personalized approach to getting healthier for pregnancy. Some ideas? Acupuncture, herbs, yoga, exercise, and a change of eating habits. I will also be reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler. You can buy her book, here.

Thank you for staying with me on this journey. Stay tuned!

Read more on my Fertility After Loss Journey:
With love,

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