When East Meets West
In my quest for regular cycles, I have tried a few different things over the past three years. Initially, I went to acupuncture at the recommendation of a good friend in the medical field. It was my first experience with acupuncture and after two treatments I got the first period I had gotten in years. I didn’t keep going and unfortunately I never got another period.
After about a year without a period, I went the medical route and when all my labs came out normal, did what my OB/GYN called the “Clomid test”. Basically, I was given one round of Clomid to see if that would cause ovulation and menstruation. It worked for me, so I was basically told to just wait until we were ready to start trying to get pregnant and come back for fertility drugs. Encouraged that my body was able to ovulate and hopeful that there may be another answer, I sought out alternative care to see if my hormones could be naturally regulated.
For the next 10-months I worked with a naturopathic doctor and took a variety of supplements, returned to acupuncture, made some dietary adjustments, and toned down my exercise. Looking back, I realize that I was doing all of this during an extremely stressful time in my life, so that may have played a larger role in not getting the desired outcome. Feeling frustrated and sick of taking a bunch of nasty (expensive) supplements that didn’t seem to be doing anything, I took a break from it all.
As we faced a transition time in our lives, we decided to wait until we were settled somewhere to figure out what to do next. Colin was living in Colorado studying for the bar exam, I was finishing my Master’s and working in Kansas, and we weren’t exactly sure if we would be living in Kansas or Colorado come the Fall.
When we moved to Colorado, I waited until my insurance became effective, then scheduled my yearly “well-woman” appointment with a new doctor. This OB/GYN was awful and my experience left me sobbing in the car. Basically she told me that my former OB/GYN (who I adore) was wrong and that I would likely never be able to have children without IVF. I left feeling broken, hopeless, and scared. She referred me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist with whom Colin and I met the next week.
That experience was a little better, but I still felt like he just shoved a bunch of medicine at me and patted me on the back, wishing me “the best of luck in my future endeavors”. He did redid a bunch of labs, though, and some of my numbers had changed over the past 18-months. It appeared that things got worse. At this point I began to see symptoms of hormonal imbalance, ones that I haven’t experienced in the past: my skin started breaking out, I started to put on weight even though nothing really changed in my nutrition/exercise, I felt sad and tired and depressed.
I followed his treatment plan for four months and took the prescribed medicine, all the while feeling like this was just a band-aid. I didn’t like the fact that it never addressed the underlying problem or corrected the imbalance. More than that, I felt horrible and my symptoms seemed to worsen. I talked to the doctor and he agreed to have me stop taking one of the medications, and asked if I would do one more round of ovulation inducing drugs. “Sometimes four rounds is a charm”, he said. He also said that some individuals have great success combining acupuncture with medication.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of that (well, I kind of do…I tend to be an all or nothing thinker) and it seemed to make a lot of sense to me. After a little research and a recommendation from a friend, I made an appointment with an acupuncture practice that specializes in fertility and female hormones.
The first session lasted two hours and I brought all my former labs. We went over my health history in detail and I immediately felt encouraged and relieved. She did a treatment then sent me home with a few supplements (ones that I hadn’t taken in the past) and my “treatment plan”, which I will detail in a future post. Right now I’m combining her recommendations with those of my RE and hopefully will result in some success.
I understand that different people feel differently about eastern medicine v. western medicine and many times it feels very one sided. Those that believe in one, are die hard advocates, and those that oppose are completely anti. For me, I like this feeling of balance…using all the tools available to find the treatment that works for me.