Now Entering… Cycle 2

2013-06-05_153217Apparently my residual endometrial lining is 0.35 today (Day 3)! Which is a vast improvement from my ‘day 3’ one month ago result which was 0.2! So hopefully this translates into a thicker, cushier lining this time around.

On a side note. My ultrasound tech told me I had lots of gas today so she had a hard time seeing my ovaries (also probably cause they can never find them, but I didnt mention this). This was funny because I did not feel it until about 20 minutes later and then sure enough… I guess nothing slips by these folks huh? Darn sushi dinner last night.

Starting estrace this evening. Stay tuned for more psychadelic blue fun.

I did ask the nurse about my HRT meds and whether I should be taking them at the same time and she seemed to agree that I should wait until the mock cycle was over to start the HRT. But I did not hear from her that she confirmed this with the doctor…so will be emailing her back to ask this.

I keep forgetting to get my TCM drugs. Need to make a note to purchase these SOON! So I can give this cycle all the help it can get. Hopefully we wont need cycle 3! I am debating whether to go for another accupuncture treatment this cycle. Maybe. Will decide how I feel after the Hysteroscopy on Jun 14.

 

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Is it possible to OD on estrogen?

So after visting the Gyno who will be performing my hysteroscopy in a couple of weeks, he prescibed me some HRT as well. This includes some estrogen cream as well as progesterone supplements to use daily.

After I visited my naturopath Dr. F, she also prescribes several supplements including an estrogen cream and some other supplements to boost lining growth and ovarian response.

I have not started any of these yet, but was thinking of starting them in June with my next cycle. But now I wonder if that is too much? Since the mock cycle will have me ingesting 2mg of estrogen twice a day as well.

How much is too much? Ofcourse I will be posing these questions to the nurse and doctor at my next random day 3 test which will likely be June 7th-ish when I will start my next mock cycle.

I have already emailed Dr. F to ask her opinion on what meds I should be taking during the next cycle.

Until then, only a few more days of supplements for this cycle! Hooray! Never thought I would be this excited to end a cycle.

Going au naturopath

I visited the naturopath Dr. F on Thursday. She was lovely. Seemed to really know what she was talking about. We started off with a very detailed history leading upto why I was interested in TCM and her services, what I wanted to achieve with her etc. I was very clear that I dont expect her to ‘cure’ my infertility, but I think she can help me to be as healthy as possible to achive the best I can with my DE/IVF. She was very understanding.

After we chatted I provided a urine sample and she conducted a physical exam which included taking my temperature, pulse, bloodpressure (it was low! suprising since I went off the pill a year ago for having high BP!), looking inside my ears, eyes and at my tounge.

My urine apparently revealed that I am stressed. Interesting. I dont feel stressed, other than the usual worrying on a daily basis about lots of little things. But maybe I am so used to being stressed that I dont notice it anymore?

She said I had a Kidney Yin deficiency with blood stasis as well. (For what its worth, this confirms what I read in the Infertitily Cure as well.)

This was followed by a detailed plan of what supplements I should take to achive my fertitliy goals. Since I am not planning on doing IVF this year, we are focusing on trying to get my ovaries to work as much as possible and to help reduce my symptoms of POF. I will post my recommended treatments in a separate post shortly. She also recommended some tests I get from my regular doctor to ensure I am totally healthy (insuling resistance, thyroid testing etc. (because of my increase in weight in the past year that I complained about). I also recieved lots of pamphlets of info.

I am supposed to avoid sugar, gluten and dairy as they increase inflamation which in turn hampers fertility. Gluten and sugar, ok I can see myself trying to reduce. But dairy? No milk? No cheese! Shoot me now! I live for my morning cup of milk. Instead of tea or coffee i would rather drink milk! She recommended a few alternatives (which I will discuss in detail in another post, and maybe review too). But I will take it in stride. Maybe this new diet will help me loose weight too?! I will try it for the summer. Why not.

Finally we ended with a session of accupuncture. My first time ever. It was…interesting. I did not sleep at all. My mind was racing and just thinking of different things as it does (maybe that is the stress indicated in my urine?). The needles themselves were not entirely painless. Although less painful than a blood draw needle, it felt like a bad insect bite. For some reason the right ankle point hurt the most. She said she would do a lining building protocol. This invloved a bunch of needle points along my legs and at my hips and uterus. The needles over my ovaries were then stimulated with electric pulses that felt much like water dropping under my skin. But not in an uncomfortable way. It was just warm and vibratey to be specific. Like I said. Interesting.

After about 30 minutes she came back. Took out the needles and I was off.

We decided I would start her meds and supplements at my next cycle, so as not to mess up the results of this cycle and to have a good baseline to start with to see if the TCM helps my next mock cycle. So next appointment with Dr. F isn’t until July.

I am very curious to see if there is a big difference after the accupuncture and TCM. Bloodwork and ultrasound were schedule for this morning and…

Coming from the east…

Increasingly now, it seems that TCM and acupuncture seem to go hand in hand with  IVF or ART in general (you need to look at that handy-dandy abbreviations chart now don’t you?). I have never really been one to use ‘home remedies’ to cure any of my ails. I grew up around western medicine. Western medicine cured me many times. My body responds well to drugs. So why fix what aint broke?

Until now.

I am definitely broke, and while western medicine has its ways to fix me. These are not 100% for sure. So I am opening up my mind to TCM. I know it wont be a quick fix. And I know it wont get me ovulating, or restore my period (but a little part of me wishes it could), but maybe, just maybe it could be that little push my body needs to build a lining cushy enough for an embryo to call home…

I have been perusing ratemd.com for reviews of Naturopaths in my area. One who comments regularly on ivf.ca seems to be the only one whose site really focuses on infertility. She also has been trained by Dr. Randine Lewis, whose book I am currently reading.  Of course, like all things in my life, she is one of the more expensive ones, and her office is about 30 mins drive away from me, without traffic, (and let’s be real, when is there ever no traffic in a big city?)

There are others. An acupuncturist that is locates much closer to home that specializes in infertility, but then he doesn’t do naturopathic medicine, so what little my health insurance will cover will be unavailable.

A few naturopaths closer to home list infertility as one of the areas they treat on their website, but it does not look like it is an area they ‘specialize’ in. They have decent reviews, but none with regard to infertility.

So what do you think? Do I go to someone who is trained and licensed, closer to home, but may not be fully experienced in my particular problem (but with good reviews of course). Or do I splurge and go for the one that I am pretty sure has seen this all before? Does experience really matter with TCM? They do say that they treat the root of the problem, not the symptoms. So does experience really matter?

Research – Risks and Rewards

So while I hurry up and wait for this year’s IF journey to begin, I have decided I should start taking matters into my own hands. I have been doing a bit more research on POF after radiation, just to see if I am being realistic here.

Risks

This site sets out the issues with conceiving and carrying a baby to term after having radiation. Of course, like all things factual, it is both hopeful and depressing at the same time:

An increased risk of miscarriage after cancer is only a concern for a small percent of patients who had radiation to their pelvic area or some fertility sparing gynecologic surgeries

Um. Pelvic radiation. Check.

Miscarriage, preterm delivery, and low birth weight infants are more common in women who received radiation to their uterus. A specialist can evaluate any damage to your uterus and help you determine whether it is safe for you to try to achieve pregnancy.

Check for damage to uterus…(ongoing) check.

As you may know, there are a number of long-term health risks associated with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Some of these risks, such as damage to your heart or lungs, may complicate your ability to carry a pregnancy or put your health at risk while you are pregnant.

As of last year I noticed a slightly elevated BP, and have slight asthma. Fan-frikin-tastic check.

I feel like I am about to fight a loosing battle, and I don’t know if I am convinced it is worth the risk. But then there is this:

Rewards

CHR, a clinic in New York, has a whole section on their website  that deals specifically with women with POF. Of course they are in the business of fertility so I do read their site with a grain of salt, but they have been doing some research in the area, so maybe they have some experience.

CHR physicians have demonstrated, and reported in the medical literature, remarkably good pregnancy results in women with even severe POA (with DHEA supplementation and proactive ovarian stimulation).

As already noted above, even in the best of hands, pregnancy in women with POF is a rare event, and most will end up having to use egg donation. CHR does offer experimental treatments to POF patients, but we usually recommend donor eggs as the treatment of choice.

They do seem to cater to those that are pursuing DE options. If anyone out there has used them or knows some more I would love to find out! They are not very clear on how much a DE cycle costs, but after poking around a bit it seems that it would cost around $20,000+ if I were to go with an anonymous donor from their bank. A quick search through their egg donor bank  shows about 6 south asian donors, but I notice that most of them are close to 30 years old, which makes me wonder if they will be as successful… expanding the search shows some more younger donors though. That being said, I think it is amazing what these women are willing to do and I really respect that.

At Hannam their site is equally wishy-washy and states that it could cost upto $15,000, and I would be supplying my own (sister’s) DE, which I am on the fence about as it is. I also am not sure about Dr. H’s experience with women with my particular brand of infertility. It seems I do have some unique challenges that I will be facing.

So I guess the questions I need to work on over the next few months are:

  • Can my uterus support a viable pregnancy?
  • Is my current RE experienced in post-radiation DE IVF?
  • Do I attempt DE IVF in Canada, cheaper but perhaps not ‘specializing’ in my kind of IF, or in the US, more expensive, but they might understand my body’s problems better?

I think I know the answer to the last one. In a perfect world I would go with the more experienced, more expensive clinic without blinking. Just need to get my finances in order.

And so the stars align.

So, as I am now mentally prepared to do this whole DE thing, we need to really consider the financial aspects of this. Correct me if I am wrong but realistically, I am looking at $25,000-ish for the process (if we are successful in one try) and then another $10,000 for the first year of baby’s life. That’s a good chunk of change. With one income (mine), and AG in med school (thankfully his parents are footing that bill), our resources are limited at best.

And then the stars aligned. We sold our house.

This is the long story that goes with it. My new job is now over an hour away from our old house, and only 15 minutes from my parents house. With AG being away at med school for the next few years (yes we still see each other, just sometimes its via Skype) we decided it didn’t make sense to keep the house with me alone in it. So I moved back home. We both get along well with the parents so it is actually pretty great. And I can actually focus on saving money since we have almost no bills! Love my parents! 🙂

The best part, which makes me believe a bit in fate, is that the house is owned by us free and clear. (AG’s parent’s gift to him when he moved out east was to buy him a place, which we sold and bought this place). No mortgage. Perfect. So now we have minimal bills, a place to stay, people to babysit (should that time ever come), and a nest egg we can dip into for DE! Yes, we will have to top it up eventually when we do buy a place but thankfully there is no rush for that just yet. But I think the universe is working in my favour….for now.

I have also started reading: The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis.

I never thought I could treat my condition with eastern medicine. But now I am an open minded skeptic. Deep down I do wish that a little bit of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) could cure me, but I know that is a fantasy. I am starting to believe that it will help me get healthy enough to perhaps carry a child with DE. So lets see! Also coming up will be Making Babies by Sami S. David

(Oh yes and I have $500 per year in benefits I can use towards naturopathic medicine, and a total of $15,000 in IF drugs that my health insurance through work will cover! Serious celestial alignment happening here!) This is making me very happy. Now to find a naturopath that can help…