Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Big Fat Positives
BFP with fibroids, spotting, short LP, hypothyroid
Hi all, writing because of how helpful everyone's stories were to me and because I believe so fully that the steps I took to get my BFP were critical and feel it's important to share in case it could be helpful to anyone out there! Hence the length of this post :)
DH and I are both 34. Started trying in August 2014 after having been off BCP for about 2.5 years. The prior December I had noticed spotting before AF which was new for me, but I guess since we weren't trying I wasn't that concerned/focused on it. But when nothing happened in the first two cycles I also realized my cycle was 27-29 days but my LP was only 9-11 days. Was concerned that I had low progesterone causing AF to come too soon, or maybe something on the other side of the cycle causing late/weak ovulation. So I went to see a gynecologist at a very well-respected practice/hospital to check things out. I was diagnosed there with small fibroids, largest was 2cm. Gyn said she wasn't concerned at all about the short LP or the fibroids and to keep trying. I was not satisfied with her response so in January I went to see a functional medicine doctor (more holistic/natural approach) to delve more into the issue (had to wait to switch from HMO to PPO insurance plan bc my PCP wouldn't refer me). She tested my blood for a laundry list of hormone, vitamin, blood lipid, and mineral levels and diagnosed me with estrogen dominance (VERY common if you've been on BCP - which I was for 17 years - but for some reason not always fully accepted/diagnosed in western medical community). Progesterone was normal at 19.5 ng/mL (?) at 7DPO but estradiol was way too high at 249 (pg/mL?) when the luteal phase range should have been 56-214. Whatever those units are supposed to be - very difficult to conceive with that ratio. And thyroid was sluggish, too with TSH at 3.05.
So for a few months she put me on an all-natural hormone balancing protocol to help reduce estradiol and prop up thyroid function. Daily I was taking:
-Estrium (a powdered mix you put into water or make a smoothie with which balances hormones);
-Advaclear (a liver support supplement as it's the liver that metabolizes/helps you excrete excess hormones including estrogen);
-FemOne (multivitamin formulated for women - with the right selenium/iodine to support thyroid function);
-vitamin D (4000 i.u. per day for 2 months and then down to 2000 i.u.);
-cod liver oil or fish oil;
-and a probiotic.
The other thing to note is that I've been on the paleo diet for about 4 years now and that the functional med doc told me this was the exact diet she would have put me on if i wasn't already on it. No gluten, no dairy (except I still use butter in cooking), no soy. So this would have been a big change too, had my dietary choices not already lined up with her recommendations.
Sounds like a lot but because I believed so strongly in everything I was doing it was no big deal at all. After two months no BFP but numbers were improving so I was optimistic. However TSH was still too high indicating a still-sluggish thyroid so I ALSO then went on 30mg of Armour Thyroid (the natural version of Synthroid). The reason we didn't start there was that excess estrogen/low thyroid can be chicken/egg situation so we isolated one thing first to see if balancing sex hormones would improve thyroid. Ultimately needed help with both. But anyway, after a few months of improvements to estrogen dominance (spotting went from 5 days pre-AF to 1 day), and literally just a few weeks on Armour, got my BFP. I'm 12 weeks now and just had an ultrasound where I saw the little guy/girl bouncing up a storm in there like a gummy bear!!!!!!
I wanted to write all this out because I so firmly believe that a good functional med doc can get to the bottom of things that a western med doc might not prioritize or even understand - they aren't necessarily trained in the subtleties of hormone interactions. My PCP actually said to me, "I don't know how to interpret these numbers." Thank goodness we do have western medicine - and the reproductive technology to assist when that's what is needed - but this isn't always necessary or even appropriate as an approach. Case in point: during this time I also went to a fertility clinic to get genetic testing and a fertility workup and they straight up told me that all my levels were good (AMH, FSH, etc) so if we hadn't conceived in our 6-7 months of trying (plus the prior 2.5 years of "pulling out") that our chances were less than 4% of conceiving naturally. Literally the day after she told me this we conceived.
Other things I was doing/did differently to get the BFP: Acupuncture 2x/month; cut way back on drinking to help the liver; quit coffee due to possible connection with fibroid growth (this was even worse than cutting back on alcohol); lots of yoga and paid much more attention to stress management. Also used pre-seed. But I remain convinced that it was the knowledge of the FM doctor that helped it happen. When I think back to the dismissive response of the gyn, the refusal of my PCP to refer me to a doctor that I wanted to see, and the attitude of the fertility clinic, I get really frustrated. But mainly I feel incredibly grateful and empowered that I was able to find a professional that gave me the support and information I really needed to get my body into the best condition for a baby, and I want to pass that feeling along to anyone who is struggling too!
FINALLY - one small thing is that the cycle we conceived we actually held back from trying all that much bc I had found out I was a carrier of cystic fibrosis and we wanted to wait for DH's results before giving it another go - so I was actually shocked to get my BFP at 12DPO. I thought there was so little chance I hadn't tracked symptoms at all! In fact I had started spotting so I just assumed AF was about to show up. I was actually disappointed because spotting started 4-5 days before AF was due so I was like, "great, LP is getting shorter or spotting is getting longer again." I don't know what it was - implantation or what - and it continued for about 5 days post-BFP - but it just tapered off and never turned really red. So don't despair if you've got spotting, and sorry I can't give you a day-by-day list of symptoms, it really was one of those times where it happened when we least expected!!
BEST of luck to all of you -- xo