It’s been three weeks since I last posted on here about our most recent early miscarriage. Since that time, I’ve started and deleted something like ten different blog posts. As I literally and figuratively run back and forth between deciding what to do next in my seemingly never ending fertility quest, all my thoughts get jumbled up together and I can’t focus on one post that actually makes any sense. Yeah. That’s where I’ve been at. Even though I’ve been all over the fertility map, I did manage to rein myself in and stick to just one topic in this post. Which is how I hope to be able to keep all my posts… But I make no promises!
I’ve also been at a place where dealing with yet another loss/failure has its tentacles wrapped pretty tightly around me. It should make sense that, coming back to my blog after a hiatus because of the m/c, that that’s exactly what I’d write about. But things “making sense” is not the theme of my life these days. And I can’t find the right words for how I feel because of what’s happened. So I’ll save it for another day. If ever.
Anyway, I immediately jumped back on the TTC train after this latest loss, as I did with the previous loss, too. There is no “waiting three cycles to try again” for this chick. Time is not on my side, so I won’t waste even a moment trying to get pregnant again. This doesn’t mean that I’m not fully grieving our losses, or that they meant so little to me that I can easily pick myself up and brush them off: just the opposite is true. But I also can’t afford to wallow in inactivity, because I’ve already been at this TTC thing for five years now and something’s gotta give. That’s 60 months that my biological clock’s been ticking, and time waits for no (wo)man, right?
Back at TTC means I’m back with all the accessories that come along with it (though, really, I never completely stopped). This includes fun stuff like BBT charting, rolling over in a semi-awake state early each morning to grope around for my thermometer. And even though my cycles and luteal phases are still all kinds of jacked up, I busted out my OPKs and religiously POAS (or, in my case, a Dixie cup cause I have terrible aim) first thing in the morning several days per month. I brew a few gallons of red raspberry leaf tea to stick in the fridge and drink every day of the week. I eat ovulation-implantation-friendly foods. I avoid alcohol, which I pretty much did beforehand anyway, and nicotine, which becomes easier as time goes by (*pats self on back*). Even my beloved caffeine has gone by the wayside, as I drink only 4 – 5 cups per week nowdays. There’s countless other little things us TTC-ers do in the name of getting pregnant, but you get the idea.
How much good does any of this stuff do me? Not sure. None of it’s worked for me yet. Maybe these things are just busy work, like when the teacher’s absent and the sub needs to find an easy way to keep the kids occupied. Either way, I keep doing them because it’s practically become ingrained in my DNA.
Now add to this list my latest craze: Vitamins.
I’ve always believed in vitamins to help treat medical conditions, and have taken them religiously for some time. Some docs doubt that vitamins do much to help, but Big Pharma isn’t the only dog in the game when it comes to fertility, IMO. Recently I’ve stepped it up and have gotten Really Serious about my vitties. Here’s what I take (Jake takes some of these things, too) every day:
But first off, I am NOT a doctor or an herbalist or anything even close to that. I do, however, work in the legal world, which I guess is why I think it’s important to state the obvious here and mention my complete non-medical prowess first. So, please, do your own research before starting a vitamin cocktail.
Multivitamin: I buy Ultra Preventative X which are a fabulous multivitamin that consists of 8 pills per day/serving. Sounds like a lot, but when you realize they contain: Vitamins A, C, D-3, E, B-6, and B-12; PLUS thiamine, riboflavin, niacin/niacinamide, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, inositol, choline, PABA, boron, vanadium, L-cysteine, betaine, bromelain, glutamic acid, L-Methionine, rose hips, lemon bioflavonoids, red wine proanthocyanicins, pine bark extract, hesperidin complex, rutin; AND organic root powders of beet, carrot, black currant, blueberry, broccoli, concord grape, green cabbage, collard greens, mountain cranberry, kale, parsley, pomegranate, raspberry, spinach; PLUS garlic, cauliflower, spirulina, chlorella, green papaya extract, blackberry, celery powder, black radish, apricot, green tea extract, and apple pectin you also realize that it’s totally worth gagging down 8 pills in one sitting!
Vitamin C: 530 mg. I buy Ester C Plus which also has added pycnogenol, rutin, bioflavonoids, Quercetin, Echinacea root, and beta-carotene. Vit-C can help regulate luteal phase defects, which I apparently now suffer from. It also is somehow important for follicle growth and, once you’re pregnant, to nurture the corpus luteum. In men, Vit-C helps improve sperm count and motility. While Jake has no male-factor IF problems, added Vit-C isn’t going to harm his sperm, either. Like anything, of course, too much Vit-C can be bad. But if you use some common sense and don’t, say, down an entire bottle in a week, then Vit-C can have some real fertility benefits.
DHEA: I take two 25-mg. pills once a day. DHEA helps a woman’s egg health by converting itself into testosterone (say whaaa?!), which somehow helps chicks like me who have DOR. I don’t claim to understand how this works. In addition, DHEA is purported to help lower the m/c risk.
Co-Q10: One 400-mg. pill twice a day for me; one 100-mg daily for Jake. Co-Q10 is to male and female fertility what peanut butter is to jelly, what dog is to bark, what… okay, you get it. Co-Q10 is actually an antioxidant that reduces free radicals in your body. It is great for helping with egg quality and sperm motility. To really let your body absorb the Co-Q10, you’ll want to buy the ubiquinol version to get the most benefits and not the more commonly sold ubiquinone form. Dosage is important too: the 800 mg that I currently take is obviously more expensive to buy, but to take only 100 or 200 mg as a female is basically a waste of your money.
Vitamin D: 5,000 iu daily. I buy this Vitamin D. I add Vitamin D because I have had my levels tested by my primary doc every four months and they were always low. I added Vit-D to my regimen in January and my latest blood work levels all came back within the normal range. Low Vit-D levels are very common for vegetarians, so my reasons for adding it isn’t related at all to my fertility cocktail. From what I’ve read, something like 40% of women have low Vit-D levels. If you live somewhere nice and sunny, then your levels probably aren’t as low as those of us who suffer through dark, unsunny winters.
In the fertility world, Vit-D does something I don’t fully understand with receptor binding that helps with estrogen production in women and testosterone in men. It also affects uterine lining for pre-embryo implantation. In men, Vit-D helps develop sperm cell nuclei and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count.
Fish Oil: Grrrrr….okay, in my defense, the only reason I’m taking fish oils right now instead of my more preferable flaxseed oil tabs (see vegetarianism blurb above; I heart my pet fish) is because Jake bought a big expensive bottle of fish oils that have been sitting in the pantry and will expire soon, and I can’t stand the idea of wasting all that money. Once the fish oil bottle is gone though, it’s back to flaxseed oil for me! If you geek out on things like metabolic enzymes that convert omega-3s and types of amino acid sources (yawn), you can read up on the differences between fish and flax oils online and how taking them helps with fertility. As for me, well my brain hurt just typing about it.
Low dose aspirin: One 81 mg./day. I started baby aspirin with Dr. C’s blessing during my FET but I wish I’d done it much sooner. It’s not a vitamin, but I’ve read up on BA therapy for IF and decided that the pros outweighed the cons and that I’d stick with it long-term. The last thing I need are blood clots to impede with trying to get pregnant. Plus, BA helps reduce inflammation (important for us endo sufferers), improves blood flow to the uterus, can help thicken uterine lining, and can really help with implantation and in the first trimester in general. I’m considering having another laparoscopic endometriosis cleanup surgery done soon, and, if I do, I’ll need to stop the BA before my surgery. But until then, I’ll stick with the BA because it has so many benefits.
L-Arginine: One 700-mg. daily. L-Arginine is an amino acid that has a ton of fertility benefits: It increases sperm quality, increases protein levels for vegetarians, when used in IVF can assist with poor responders (that’s me!), aids in making cervical mucous, and increases blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries. Jake and I are both taking this one in the same dosages.
That ends my list. I hope that, over time, all these added vitamins and amino acids and supplements will help with getting pregnant naturally. There are no more IVFs in our near future (that’s a post for another day), so all I can do is look for alternatives to medical intervention. That, and pray. Like the title to this post, there’s been a lot of praying going on lately. I hope that this list can help someone else who’s in the same boat as me. Anyone with some fertility vitamin success stories, please post them below!