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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ingles, CFCP

Why Me? Infertility

Barren Desert

It's Infertility Awareness Week so it seemed appropriate to talk about my infertility journey. I touched on it briefly in a previous post, but I didn't dive too far into it. It is my desire that anyone reading this who is struggling with infertility will find hope and forgiveness.

If you are a regular reader, or if you know me, you know I have children (4 living children, actually), so it may come as a surprise to know that my husband and I struggled with infertility for over 5 years and it took 7 years before our first living child was born. For years I struggled with infertility and, later, recurrent miscarriage - asking "why me?" While there is a debate on why infertility is on the rise, there are certainly some causes that have more than enough evidence to make many people question why we are doing what we're doing. Hormonal Contraceptives are at the top of that list despite what many people want you to believe, and for me, I can say with great confidence that they were my primary cause of infertility.

Shortly after getting married, I came off the birth control pill. When I was 13 years old, my mother put me on the long-acting hormonal birth control shot for "irregular, heavy, and painful" periods. She decided that the shot was better than the pill because the doctor assured her that a child (me) would be inconsistent in taking the pill. Despite the fact that the shot caused me to have severe depression and suicidal ideations, and made my once manageable migraines rage out of control, the doctor assured my parents that both were actually due to puberty and not the shot. Now it is well documented that hormonal contraceptives do, in fact, cause severe mental health problems in women (especially adolescents and young women), and that migraine suffers (especially those with auras like me) sometimes get worse migraines and are at a much higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots. I remained on the shot until I was 18 years old and decided, as an adult, that I didn't want the side effects any longer. From the time I was 13 to 18, I didn't have a period, I was depressed, I gained weight, I had debilitating migraines, and I wasn't informed that I would be at a significantly higher risk for developing diabetes, which I now have. When I decided to come off the shot, I bounced around from the hormonal contraceptive patch, ring, and various types of pills because my doctors recommended it. Each of these hormonal contraceptives had horrible side effects. At one point, I went through a battery of tests for lymphoma only to have all my symptoms disappear when I completely came off all forms of birth control. It was at this point that my husband and I decided we wanted to try and have a baby because, frankly, we didn't know we could avoid pregnancy without birth control. Like many women who spent their formative years on birth control, I believed that I would come off of it and get pregnant right away. But that didn't happen. As each cycle passed with a negative pregnancy test and the start of a period, I became more and more hopeless. And angry. I started to resent the pregnant women I saw. And nothing compared to the anger I felt towards women with unwanted pregnancies or who neglected their children. My mantra was "Why Me? Why me who wanted a baby and would be a good mom? Why me who had a happy marriage and the financial ability to give a baby everything he or she would need? Why me who exercised regularly, ate healthy food, and didn't do drugs? Why me, God? Why me who volunteered at Church, prayed, and tried to be a good person? Why are you punishing me?" But eventually, I discovered the why. And it was devastating.

Two years into trying (and multiple visits to various OB/GYNs and Reproductive Endocrinologists), we consigned ourselves to our childless fate - primarily because my mental health couldn't take it any longer. It wasn't until years later that I discovered how years of hormonal contraceptive use had negatively affected my fertility. For one, I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure. Many studies now support the theory that long-term hormonal contraceptive use diminishes ovarian reserve. While some studies suggest that ovarian reserve recovers after stopping birth control, many others don't support that. Recovery certainly wasn't the case for my ovarian reserve. I also discovered that all those "irregular, heavy, and painful" periods were my body screaming for help. The birth control only masked the symptoms of a growing problem. Endometriosis (which causes infertility). And because birth control doesn't treat endometriosis, it continued to grow. To top it off, hormonal contraceptives are known to cause glucose dysregulation and insulin resistance which cause and/or exacerbate Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which I have. So all of this is to say that years of hormonal contraceptives trashed my fertility and have caused me untold health problems (many of which I probably don't even know about yet).

When I first discovered why I was struggling with infertility, my anger shifted to my mom, the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, the government, and myself. Why didn't someone try to look for the cause of my menstrual problems and fix them rather than confine me to a life of childlessness? It took years before I finally reached a place where I could forgive. And it was difficult. Not only did hormonal contraceptive use cause infertility, it shaped my behavioral choices as a teen and robbed me of those pivotal years of getting to know, love, and appreciate my body. I eventually did forgive everyone, including myself. But that isn't the end of the story. How did I go from infertility to 4 living children, you might ask. Two words. Creighton. And NaPRO.

My husband and I were introduced to Creighton and NaPRO by chance, or more likely through God's providence, during our Convalidation process. Through the help of my Creighton Practitioner and NaPRO, we conceived our first child. Sadly, we lost him in the second trimester (and we lost 2 more between other children years later), but we did conceive. We are now blessed with 4 living, wild, and beautiful children. When I first began charting with Creighton, my practitioner immediately noticed that my post peak phase (the time between likely ovulation and your period starting) was 4 days so she referred me out to a NaPRO doctor. The time it takes for a conceived baby to implant in the uterus is 6-10 days so even if I was conceiving, I was likely miscarrying and didn't even know. The NaPRO doctor prescribed progesterone to lengthen my post peak phase and other medications for the PCOS and Insulin Resistance he discovered. He also placed me on a Paleo Diet to lower inflammation and heal my body. It was through these measures that we conceived and now have children. I am eternally grateful to both my practitioner and doctor for taking the time, and having the expertise, to assess my symptoms and address my underlying problems which healed my infertility. If you are struggling with infertility, or if you are a teen with menstrual problems, Creighton and NaPRO can offer you hope and healing.

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