Before starting this blog, I want to wish you a very happy Independence Day to you and your family. As I was reflecting on what a July 4th blog post would look like, it struck me that, as Americans, we understand and embrace a culture of independence. It's written in the core of our country and drives everything from bucking political systems to striving for individuality in our clothing, technology, and work. After further reflection, I really started to understand how Fertility Care is very important for of independence.
If you hang out in fertility circles (which I do), you will hear the phrase "the menstrual cycle is the fifth vital sign." This indicates that along with your pulse, respiratory rate, temperature, and blood pressure, your menstrual cycle can give a physician (and you) an overall picture of how healthy you are. So it's interesting that when a woman shows up to a doctor's office with heavy menstrual flow, severe cramps, mid-cycle bleeding, and infertility, doctors jump straight to the birth control pill and IVF instead of trying to work on fixing the underlying problem. If you've ever gone in to the doctor with high blood pressure, then you're usually given "the talk" on diet and exercise in conjunction with (or even before) getting prescribed medication.
How the menstrual cycle is the "fifth vital sign" is very important. By tracking your menstrual cycle, you can see how balanced (or unbalanced) your hormones are, if you have underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, or even cancer in some cases. By simply using the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and working with a Practitioner you can begin to understand why many things are happening in your body. Imagine if, at your regular check up, your doctor took your pulse, respiratory rate, temperature, blood pressure, AND looked at your chart. Then using that information, she did lab work, and ran tests to help figure out why you're fatigued, have acne, cannot get pregnant, or whatever ailment you have happening. That's a reality in many places. Creighton Practitioners work with NaPRO physicians on a regular basis to help you gain confidence in understanding your cycle. By simply tracking your biomarkers on a daily basis, you will begin to understand how your hormones are working and if there are any concerns you should have. It truly is a type of independence. By knowing your fifth vital sign you can advocate for yourself, get the best care from doctors, and make important choices about your health.