TTC Arsenal

fertility meds

Guys, this is just a tiny slice of the mega supply of supplements I have right now, in my desperate attempt to overcome my infertility.  I thought it might be helpful to get an idea of what I am using and the effectiveness of the products I will share as I use them.  This is just what came in a recent Amazon delivery, to be added to my regular routine.

I think it will be easier if I break up my supply into several posts, because it’s a lot of stuff and a lot of info to take in.  I should mention that in addition to the supplements I am using, I am also following a healthy whole foods eating plan, and exercising 5+ days a week.  All of the supplements in the world won’t help you if you aren’t being proactive in all aspects of your life.  I should also mention, for those that don’t know, that I suffer from PCOS which is largely responsible for my secondary infertility.

Secondary infertility is described as the inability to achieve or maintain a healthy pregnancy following the birth of one or more biological children.  What I have come to learn, is that it is typical for PCOS to really take hold and cause infertility in your mid to late 20’s.  This is exactly what happened to me.  I had two children and then came the nightmare roller coaster of miscarriage and infertility.

I had a Clomid/rainbow baby, and then quickly became pregnant with my youngest soon after.  The combination of breastfeeding, weight loss and somewhat normalized hormones coupled with perfect timing helped me with that.  Since then, my PCOS has flared out of control.

So now, I have my battle gear on, and I am fighting to regain what should be rightfully mine.  I have grown tired of being betrayed by my own body and decided to take action.  Sometimes you just have to get mad to get serious, and this year, my friends, I got pissed off.

Pictured:

  • Premama Fertility Supplement:  This is a drink additive that includes 2000 mg of myo-inositol and 200 mcg of folic acid.  I know I have tried inositol supplementation before with zero results.  Call me crazy, but I decided to try this supplement anyway with a daily tea I will talk about soon.
  • NAC 600mg (n-acetyl-cysteine): This is touted as a miracle supplement by so many for PCOS and has been on my mind for years but I never tried it before.  Until now.  Some benefits reported include improving insulin sensitivity, lowering testosterone and free androgens, regulating cycles and improving regularity of ovulation, supporting egg quality, and higher progesterone levels.  This supplement is in the sulfur family, and let me tell you, the capsules smell awful.  But if it can help me, you know I’m willing to give it a try.
  • OPK Test Strips: Wishful thinking, but I would like to be able to use these puppies, and I know you go through a ton of them in a cycle so I stocked up with a 100 count box.  I will go into more detail on OPK’s for cysters, as they are a whole new game, but for now, I am just well stocked and hopeful.

Stay tuned for more arsenal info, and hopefully I will be able to update that the crazy cocktail of supplements offers me some benefits.  PCOS is tough to navigate and there are so many promised miracle cures out there, it’s hard to know what is even worth trying.  I do a lot of research on everything before I decide to try anything, and of course, none of this is meant as medical advice, it’s just me being open and sharing my journey.  As far as dosages, that can vary wildly, depending on what study or article you read.  I tend to follow the research studies for dosage amounts, rather than the label on the bottles.  It’s all trial and error, really.  I try to be tuned into my body and adjust accordingly.

Until next time, friends!

PCOS Series: Inositol Supplements

supplements

There are countless supplements geared towards women suffering from PCOS.  One of the most regularly mentioned supplements is inositol, also known as myo-inositol.  It is a member of the B vitamin family, and there are several different studies done on the effects of its use on women with PCOS.

Studies have especially shown interesting improvements on women who also show signs of insulin resistance, one of the many possible symptoms of the disease.  Besides this benefit, there have also been studies suggesting that it may help women suffering from infertility by improving ovulation and egg quality.

While I do not suffer from insulin resistance, I am most definitely suffering from infertility as a result of the PCOS complications, so these studies caught my eye.

As a reminder, we have been trying to conceive (TTC) for about 4 years now, unsuccessfully.  I did extensive research on the benefits and dosages of inositol for fertility benefits, reading all of the studies, recommended dosages, etc.  Inositol is easily available online, in both pill and powder form.  I found the powder to be much less expensive, and decided to use that as my source.

Taking the supplement is easy.  Just add the dose to some water or a beverage and mix then drink up!  It has a slightly sweet taste to it, almost like a mild Pixie Stix candy, if tried alone.  I never had trouble taking it, it was easy to incorporate into a routine.

Just a few of the promised benefits of taking an inositol supplement:

*Increased Progesterone

*Lowered testosterone levels and lessened hirsutism

*Improved insulin sensitivity

*Decreased LH levels

*Weight Loss

*Ovulation

 

So did it work?

I took powdered inositol daily for almost 2 full years without a single benefit being observed.  I had no bad side effects either, I just had no observable difference at all whatsoever.

Boo.

As with many supplements, it is often said that it can take several months to see the benefits.  Well, I think 2 years counts as more than several months.  I wish I could say that it helped at least one symptom, but it was just a major dud for me.

Some of the super hyped, expensive treatments being hawked to women suffering from PCOS include inositol as the magic ingredient and can be very expensive!  I always make a habit of breaking down the ingredients in these snake oil companies, and then doing the research myself to decide if a certain supplement is worth a try.

Of course, you should also talk to your doctor before taking any supplement and for getting assistance on recommended dosages.

You have to remember, as women suffering from infertility, we are often preyed upon because the desire for a child can make us feel hopeless and desperate.  The scammers know this and are looking to profit from our grief and hopes.  Be smart and don’t expect miracles, it is wise to approach things in a scientific matter, learning everything you can, talking with your doctor, and coming up with a healthy plan where you are in control.  If a supplement sounds too good to be true, I can assure you that it is!

Also, just because inositol didn’t work for me, doesn’t necessarily mean that it wouldn’t work for you.  Everyone is different, and as always, results may vary.  My goal here is just to be transparent and share my story with you as we go along our TTC journey.  I know it helps me to read about other women in the same boat and to hear their stories and results.  It’s nice to know you are not alone!

Until next time, friends!

xoxo

 

PCOS Awareness Month

pcosawarnessmonthbyjennka

What perfect timing to delve into the beast known as PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome!  So to start things off, perhaps we should start at the beginning and explain just what exactly this condition is.

PCOS is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women, but is still a tricky thing to actually get diagnosed because of the many varying symptoms that can be confused for other issues.  Short story: Women with PCOS have multiple cysts on their ovaries, and those little suckers start a whole avalanche of hormonal imbalance.  Some of the havoc this imbalance can bring includes: infertility, acne, weight gain, trouble losing weight, thinning scalp hair, loads of extra face hair, oily skin, irregular periods, potential insulin related problems including diabetes and increased risk for heart problems, and unbelievably, with all of these fun ailments, anxiety and depression are also very high on the list.  Go figure!

I self diagnosed myself with PCOS back in 2008, after having a miscarriage the year before and being unable to get pregnant again afterwards.  My doctor later confirmed my diagnosis through ultrasounds and blood work.  I was given a prescription for Clomid, and 6 months later, I was expecting our little Noey Bean.

Now, I had heard that sometimes following a pregnancy, the hormones can sort of self regulate and was hopeful that we would be able to get pregnant again some day.  Because of our struggle with secondary fertility, we started trying to conceive again just before Noah turned one, expecting it to take possibly years before being successful.  When the pregnancy test came back positive three weeks before Noah’s first birthday, I was dumbfounded!  That pregnancy brought us Saraphina.  ❤

It has been our desire from the start to have a large family, and our “plan” does include more children.  So last year, we decided to hop back on the heartbreak train of TTC (trying to conceive).  Ironically, looking back, it would appear that the last time I ovulated, was the month before we decided to TTC.  Laugh or cry or scream, but I’m pretty sure that is indeed the case.

I have always had irregular periods, another sign of PCOS, but like most girls, I loathe that time of the month, so going months sometimes without is all fine and dandy with me, until you actually expect your body to work like it is supposed to.  Crazy, right?

I can tell when I actually ovulate in a cycle, because the resulting period is a nightmare. (heavy bleeding is another PCOS symptom)  Like, I’m talking, don’t leave the house, don’t move, don’t sneeze, just chill for 5 days or risk looking like an extra from the latest gorefest slasher flick.

On months when I don’t ovulate, I still get a period, but not really.  See, bleeding without ovulation is also known as estrogen breakthrough bleeding, or annovulatory bleeding, and while blood is involved, for me, it is a very miniscule amount compared to my usual “fertile” cycles.  I imagine it is what a “normal” cycle would be like, but without ovulation, it is a big fat bloody (or not so bloody in this case) waste of time in my humble opinion, and a reminder that I am broken.  Ugh.

I have more fertility books than I can count, including Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.  This book is amazing for learning about your body, how things work, charting your cycles, using a BBT thermometer, etc.  The problem is, having PCOS, a lot of it’s usefulness is wasted on me.  I have tried charting, but my charts are crazy, thanks to PCOS.  I can use ovulation predictor kits (opk’s), and while I will get a positive result, a spike in lutenizing hormone or LH, it definitely does not mean that I will ovulate.  My body has been gearing up and trying to ovulate for what feels like forever, but the hormone imbalance kicks everything around and instead, I get a positive OPK, no ovulation, and then a frustrating annovulatory cycle.

One of the biggest treatments for PCOS is weight loss.  *Insert big fat sigh of annoyance right HERE!*  The hormone imbalance is greatly against you with this battle, and I have been feeling that especially hard for the last several years.  It doesn’t mean I’m not trying though.  We have adopted a whole foods diet in this house, meaning I am making alost every single meal we eat from scratch, with the most basic whole foods we can find.  Loads of fruits and veggies and beans, all good healthy foods, no added sugars, or chemicals.  I wish I could say I dropped loads of weight and feel revitalized, but in truth, I don’t.  I know we are eating better, and getting better nutrition, something I have no desire to change, but I hoped it would help me more with my PCOS symptoms.

I have tried more herbs than I can name at the moment, but I will delve more into that in another post.  For now, I just wanted to give a brief history of my personal struggle, along with a tiny, short version of what PCOS actually is.  I will be continuing this discussion all month long, and of course, will be documenting our journey hopefully through a successful pregnancy in the near future.

Until then, be well!  ❤