Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, Update #3

Warning!  This material is personal and if you enjoy this blog for health info and recipes, please skip this post!  This is update number three on my journey to get my cycle back so I can have a happy, healthy pregnancy.  In other words, it may be entirely TMI 😉 

It has been 8 weeks now since I began acupuncture treatments to treat my diagnosis of hypothalamic amenorrhea.  Amenorrhea is simply means the absence of menstruation.  You can read more about post one and two here and here. In the 8 weeks I have been getting acupuncture twice a week, taking a custom made herb formula two to three times a day, and sticking to a more fertility-friendly diet, specifically inspired by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).  Lots of black and dark colored foods (black rice, blackberries, blueberries, beets, kidney beans, black beans), meat (medium rare grassfed hamburgers, organic turkey, organic chicken), grass-fed eggs, and warm, cooked vegetables (since I run cold).  I also incorporated a Vitex supplement in the mix and taking more yoga. But guess what?  After 6 weeks I felt the need to do more.  I don’t know about you, but if something isn’t happening the way I want it to (in this case getting a period), I have to keep moving.  I by no means want to stop doing any of the above, but I decided I wanted to integrate other methods, and/or at least find out more about my current condition to not only educate myself on what is going on with my body, but potentially further this process along.  I never said I was patient.  😉

I researched doctors and fertility clinics in my area, and called one I thought seemed like a good fit.  I made sure it wasn’t a hard-core fertility clinic, by that I mean get right down to baby business.  My first priority is finding out what’s going on with ME.  I don’t want to just jump into something and put my baby at risk since my body is clearly not functioning optimally (in this way) on its own.

Last week I went to the clinic and met with the doctor.  She’s awesome.  I felt very comfortable sitting in her very well decorated office not only because she was pleasant and sincere, but went through this herself.  She now has an adorable two year old of her own.  It’s nice to know that the person I’ll be working so closely with GETS IT and can relate to what I’m going through.  I had an ultrasound after we chatted to check my ovary’s, uterus, and my antral follicle count (to see my egg supply).  Everything looked good there!  After that was done I had my blood drawn to test for prolactin levels, TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), Estrodial, and LH (Luteinizing Hormone).  My doctor called me the other day and all those tests so far look great.  I’m REALLY happy about that.

Today I went for a cranial MRI.  That was NOT fun. Lots of loud noises for an hour, and an IV so they can get a ‘contrast’ read to detect any possible disruptions involving my pituitary gland which is responsible for the regulation of many different hormones throughout the body.  The contrast part comes from a dye that enters the bloodstream through the IV.  I really didn’t want that in my body, regardless the fact I was told it’s completely safe. So I’m drinking a ton of water and green juice to flush it through my kidneys faster!  I’ll also ask my acupuncturist tomorrow to place some needles in points for digestion and detoxification.  I should find out the results for the MRI in a couple days.

I only have one more test to do called Hysterosalpingogram, or HSG.  It’s an outpatient procedure and takes less than a half hour total.  It involves placing an iodine-based dye through the cervix and taking x-rays to help evaluate the shape of the uterus to find out whether or not the fallopian tubes are blocked.

I definitely feel like I’m getting somewhere with all these tests!  Even if all of them check out well (which I’m hoping for), then it will be a matter of setting a timeline for myself with the help and encouragement from both my doctor of acupuncture and my reproductive endocrinologist doctor.  While I’d rather nothing be wrong with me at all, I feel that between the two of them, my husband, my family, and all of your support, I couldn’t be in a better place.  I look forward to seeing what the (near?!) future holds!

Day #1 of Fertility Treatments

What I’m about to talk about is different to the questions, answers (suggestions), and recipes that you will normally find on Ask Leah Renee.  Since I have this blog, I thought it would be a good way to broaden the criteria in a way that may then broaden my audience, connecting with others who may be going through the very same thing I am. I love to help and love to be helped, which is why I’ve decided to share this experience.  Today was the first day of what will be a twice a week visit to a Doctor of Acupuncture in order to help me get my body become fertile and functioning the way it should.  The mission is to get my cycles back, and then regular, in order to get pregnant.

Unfortunately, since the time I first began menstruating, I have had a fairly unpredictable cycle.  I have been on and off the pill since age 14 for cysts on my ovaries which is what western medicine prescribes to help that issue.  Most recently I have been on the pill again for the past 2.5 years, going off of it in January in hopes of becoming pregnant in 2014.  As I suspected, and like the previous 5 years up to starting the pill again, I have not had a cycle yet.  My gynecologist gave me the option and suggested shots of hCG and going on Clomid which he said has been very successful.  I do not doubt that to be true, but I thought there’s got to be an underlying factor.  I almost went that route, but opted to go the natural way since I wanted to get the core of why my body is not functioning the way it should anyway.  Not to mention, while I think it’s great to integrate both Eastern and Western practices, Eastern practices take time to find the reason the body is doing what it’s doing–not only prescribe and treat.

Today was my first visit with the Acupuncturist who is also certified as a Nurse Practitioner and has over 20 years of medical experience.  She is very passionate about what she does.  It shows and I’m so happy to have found her.  Reading all the testimonials I am confident that together we will make this happen!  I have been to other Acupuncturists before, and already I can see that this one is different.  She diagnosed me by looking at my tongue to see where the abnormalities were, as well as asking me a series of questions, ones it seemed she already knew the answers to as the questions themselves were so specific.  The term that’s most familiar (in western medicine) for my condition is called amenorrhea.   In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I have Spleen Qi deficiency, Liver Qi stagnation, and Kidney essence deficiency.  That all means that I have stagnation, of the blood, which needs to be freed up in order for everything to start functioning normally again.

There are some diet guidelines to follow to help with the deficiencies.  She also gave me a recipe for “Blood Soup” to make to raise hemoglobin.  I will post that recipe and other dietary guidelines soon!

I am excited the process has begun, and hope to soon join many of my friends who have had the gift and pleasure of giving life.  I will continue to post on this topic as I go through the sessions!

If you have gone through something similar or know someone who has, I would love to hear from you!