Back in the 1990’s as an undergrad, I came across some fascinating ultrasound ovulation research that was happening locally at my university. Remember that ultrasound was in its early technological stage at that time. I got to know the researcher and even used the topic as my fourth year pharmacy therapeutics class final project. That positive experience led me to a rotation in gynecological oncology during my post graduate hospital pharmacy residency program, as I learned about the downside of synthetic hormonal replacement therapy in menopausal women.
Fast forward a number of years later. After having three successful pregnancies, I was devastated to miscarry our fourth baby at 13 weeks of age. I did not miscarry in the privacy of my own home, and we never received closure knowing if our baby was a boy or a girl. The doctor explained that the cause of the miscarriage was likely “genetic”, but I didn’t believe it was that simple. Losing a baby was the most painful thing I had experienced in life up to that time. Thankfully, we conceived again the next cycle and had a successful pregnancy. We went on to have another baby 19 months after that as well. I see many women now with similar concerns, who want to prevent miscarriage from happening to begin with or from recurring. The good news is there is plenty of research that explains the underlying causes and preventative treatment available.
Once the child bearing years passed, the next big challenge for me was perimenopause, accompanied by an imbalance of hormones. Heavy menstrual flow led to years of iron deficiency anemia and severe fatigue, but I just chalked it up to being exhausted from taking care of five young children. I ended up getting quite ill with a respiratory infection from the iron deficiency, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. My own doctor, although she meant well, could only recommend anti-depressants for the PMS. As a pharmacist, I knew this wasn’t the answer. I knew that I was not neurochemically imbalanced or depressed, and taking something my body didn’t need was a bad idea.
Yet how many women are prescribed the birth control pill or antidepressant after a 15 minute appointment? That type of prescribing is what has been called by one gynecologist as “gynecology made simple”, with no assessment of the true underlying problem. Thankfully, I was referred to a NaPro physician three hours away who was able to diagnose me with suboptimal hormones that led to severe PMS and heavy flow. I will never forget the improvement I felt immediately once treatment began. I have an idea of what hormonal dysfunction can do to marriage and family life, and the liberation I experienced with non synthetic, isomolecular hormone restoration treatment was life changing. For me, it was as if I was looking through a dirty pane of glass for years, and hormonal restoration made that glass clean again. Sometimes in life you don’t quite realize how bad things were until you experience normalcy again!
My mother in law died of breast cancer at the age of sixty, a long time before I met my husband. Unfortunately, Mediterranean genetics of polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and hirsuitism were passed along to her children and grandchildren, including my own daughter. When my daughter was 17 years old, she was properly diagnosed with polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, hirsuitism and decreased insulin sensitivity by a restorative reproductive trained physician. Had I not been trained in NaPro, I would not have recognized the risks my own daughter carried: long irregular cycles, debilitating menstrual cramps and pelvic pain, and acne. Furthermore, she carries risk factors for developing breast cancer, just ike her grandmother.
As her mother, I was determined to protect her from this as early in life as possible. The cramps were so severe for my daugher that she had to use opioids every month to control the pain because ibuprofen and acetaminophen did not touch it. She also struggled with related iron deficiency anemia and fatigue that interfered with athletics and academics. For three or four days every month, her quality of life and activities were greatly affected. How many teens or women have gone through this and don’t even know there is a problem? The problem isn’t usually recognized until it comes time to achieve pregnancy and couples have difficulty conceiving.
I know this story well because these are the patients I now see. The band aid solution most specialists and family doctors have for menstrual pain is synthetic hormones through the use of birth control. Birth control masks the pain and symptoms and regulates the cycle, but does nothing to heal the woman of the underlying problem or prevent long term related cancer risks. Polycystic ovarian disease, being metabolic in nature, actually worsens with the use of birth control pills because they negatively affect blood lipids, cholesterol and sugars. Many women gain weight and feel rotten on birth control pills, and will stop using it due to these negative side effects. The latest endometriosis surgical research clearly shows that the earlier women receive endometriosis excision surgery, the better the long term outcomes.
Teenagers with painful stage one inflammatory endometriosis are candidates for surgery, yet doctors insist they need birth control. By delaying surgery in teens to save health care dollars, this is short sighted thinking that kicks the health and fertility can further down the road. Is there any wonder we have such high rates of breast cancer? I am grateful that my daughter received the proper medical and surgical care she needed.
My life experiences explain why I have a great deal of empathy and compassion for my patients. They have taught me about the importance of a correct diagnosis, and advocating for oneself and family members for treatments that are more than a band aid solution. If you think FertilityCare and reproductive restoration can help you, please reach out to our clinic.
I promise to use my twenty six years of clinical pharmacy experience and over ten years of FertilityCare and NaPro clinical experience to listen, remain open minded, and work together with you to achieve your goals for gynecological health. Relieving your physical and psychological suffering and achieving healing through reproductive restoration is our goal.