Tag Archive | pregnant woment

Progesterone the Misunderstood Hormone…

Whether you have been diagnosed with infertility, you’re trying to conceive, or you just happen to be a woman; knowing what progesterone is and how it affects your body is an absolute must.  If you’re like me, you sat through years of health class looking at the diagram of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, hearing the same thing year after year, and not learning much. female reproductive diagram

Let’s start with the basics, the stuff they should have told us when we first menstruated, oh so long ago.  During the first half of a woman’s cycle, the estradiol levels rise, the cervix produces cervical mucus which will allows the sperm to travel into the uterus and make their way to the ovaries, where they’ll fertilize the egg- if the ovulation is strong enough.

As estradiol levels rise, a follicle in one of the two ovaries matures.  Ovulation usually occurs within one or two days before or after estradiol levels reach their highest levels of the cycle. At the same time the estradiol levels are rising, the cervix is making mucus.  In the realm of NaProTechnology, the last day of the cycle in which a woman observes mucus is known as peak day.   Peak day typically occurs two days before or after ovulation.   Ideally, estradiol levels should be between 300 and 400 to have an “effective” cycle.

After peak day, your estradiol levels drop, not gradually, sharply.  Estradiol has had its turn, the post peak phase is where progesterone comes into play.  Once your estradiol levels drop and you ovulate, that egg will hang around anywhere between 12-24 hours if you’re lucky.  It could actually be much less.  It’s different for every woman and it’s often different for every cycle.

corpus luteum

That follicle that matured and produced your egg is now known as the corpus luteum, it is responsible for producing the progesterone your body needs.  Your progesterone levels generally reach their highest levels about seven days after your peak day.  If you are trying to conceive, your doctor may draw your “day 21” progesterone levels.  These can be misleading; if you’re not sure when your peak day is, the levels could be off by a few days.  NaProTechnology doctors rely on a peak plus 7 blood draw to assess a women’s progesterone levels, this is much more accurate for most women.

blood_tube

To conceive, your progesterone levels should be above 15, in a medicated cycle.  However, progesterone levels vary from cycle to cycle.  I’ve had cycles where my progesterone was 28 and others where it was 9!

If your body is not producing enough progesterone then pregnancy is virtually out of the question.  Not to mention that your body will continue to make estradiol in the absence of progesterone.  That means you’re at a higher risk for cancers.  During my laparoscopy / hysteroscopy / selective HSG, they actually found a large polyp which they attributed to estrogen levels going unchecked by progesterone.  The polyp was located right where a baby would have implanted.  Good thing we had it removed.  No wonder we were having trouble conceiving!

By the end of your cycle, if you haven’t conceived, your estradiol and progesterone levels will continue to drop and you’ll menstruate.

If your doctor determines that your progesterone levels are too low, you’re not out of luck.  Progesterone can be supplemented!

Once when talking with someone about supplementing hormones, I was asked “Isn’t that dangerous, isn’t that how other women have gotten cancer?”  The difference is in the details, in this case.  Like someone who has diabetes whose body cannot make enough insulin, a woman with low progesterone can supplement her progesterone levels to achieve optimum levels.  Because she is only restoring what nature intended to be there in the first place, there aren’t any risks of illness.  That’s the great thing about NaProTechnology, it only restores what should be there in the first place; it does not expose a woman to the risks that come when using Artificial Reproductive Technology.

NaPro pic

What is progesterone made of?

Progesterone is a hormone which is created by the corpus luteum, the remains of the follicle in which the egg matured.  Like many other hormones, your body makes progesterone from cholesterol.  Let me say that again, you need cholesterol in your diet to produce adequate amounts of progesterone. Yup, that stuff that you may have been avoiding is actually an essential nutrient for ovulation, and conception.

Cholesterol is found in dairy products made with whole milk, and other animal products containing fats such as butter, beef, salmon, etc.  This may explain why women who eat low fat dairy products have a higher incidence of infertility than those who consume dairy products made with whole milk.  Besides, it just tastes better!

cabot greek yogurt

I’ve correlated my diet with my peak plus seven blood draws and have noticed that when I consume Cabot Greek Yogurt with 10% fat, my progesterone levels are in the 20’s.  When I’m not on my Cabot Greek Yogurt kick, my levels aren’t so great.

If you are opposed to including the foods that contain cholesterol in your diet, you can also consume naturally occurring progesterone.  One food with the highest level of naturally occurring progesterone is the yam.  Yams are such a vital source of naturally occurring progesterone that many progesterone supplements are actually made from yams.

Are you surprised?  Stay tuned for more info about progesterone’s role in pregnancy…

Join the Movement, the causes of infertility affect us all!

awareness ribbonWhat do I know? I’m just a blogger living with infertility.  Before I was diagnosed with endometriosis and ovarian dysfunction,  there were a few times when I actually thought I was pregnant.  I was so excited!  I knew it was too early to test, but I researched everything I could about how I should take care of myself during pregnancy.  I committed to making dietary changes immediately.  I was certainly surprised by the list of restrictions!

Have you ever looked at the list of foods that pregnant women are discouraged from eating?  You may be aware that they’re discouraged from eating raw or undercooked food.  That makes sense, as bacteria might make mom and baby ill at a time when they both need to put their energies into growing and developing.

  • Unwashed fruits, veggies, and salad bars as well as raw eggs and rare meats

Okay probably not so healthy either food does need to be properly cooked in order to be safe.  Not to mention the pesticides and chemical that are used for growing them.   I’ll admit, raw eggs and rare meats can carry bacteria, they’re probably not the best for a mom and growing baby to consume.

mercury levels

  • Fish heavy in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and albacore tuna

Hum? These fish are heavy in mercury.  Doctors believe the mercury could damage mom and baby’s development.  I wonder, what effects might this mercury have on my developing ova every month?

 

  • Soft cheeses and cold cuts

What?  Apparently they’re a breeding ground for listeria, a bacteria which can only be killed by heating it to a certain temperature.  This bacterium is linked to miscarriage and still birth.

·         Anything packaged in plastic containing BPA (Bisphenol A). 

This chemical has recently been removed from many plastics we come in contact with.  However unless a container is labeled BPA free, it probably contains this chemical.  In 2010 the EPA stated that there are “substantial uncertainties” about the effects of BPA on human health.  YIKES.   My doctor recently informed me that BPA is also used to seal the lids of canned goods.  Be careful, this chemical is everywhere.

  • Anything containing Aspartame.

Aspartame which is a new name for an old product which was once called Nutrasweet.  This product was once pulled from the market because of a high incidence of cancer in rats. Yes it was determined to be dangerous to rats and is the leading sugar substitute in the US.  It’s everywhere!  You’ll find it in yogurt, sugarless gum, beverage mixes, seasonings, cookies, diet foods, and it’s one of the first foods that doctors discourage pregnant women from eating.  If it’s bad for rats it’s probably not so good for your average human either!

 

The doctor I see has added to this list.  He recommends nothing with soy, no matter how small of an amount.  This includesforms of soy while you’re trying to conceive and while you’re pregnant.  He says that soy contains so many phytoestrogens (the plant form of estrogen) that as a woman it puts your hormones out of balance (this is the same reason why menopausal women were encouraged to consume soy for a while, the estrogens in soy replaced the estrogen that their bodies could no longer produce naturally).   If there isn’t a proper balance between your estrogen and progesterone levels, your body can’t support or sustain a pregnancy.  Soy also disrupts your immune system and your digestive system.  You may have heard that Asians have been consuming soy for centuries and have no negative effects.  There’s a bit of an untruth to this.  Asians have been growing soy for centuries and using it for animal feed.  Soy was considered UNFIT for human consumption with the only exception being during times of famine when it was fermented into tofu.

I’m wondering, what are the effects of all these foods and chemicals are on those of us who are trying to conceive?  It seems to me that the health of a developing ovum is just as fragile as that of a developing baby.

Avoiding all of those chemicals and bacteria is a huge task for half the population to undertake, it’s probably even impossible for some.  There’s a bigger issue here.  If these chemicals are proven to have negative effects on fast developing cells, why are they even used at all?  They’re dangerous to mothers and babies, and they may just have something to do with our infertility, as well as the overall increase in poor health over the last few decades.

Whether you are living with infertility or you know someone who is, the causes of infertility affect us all.  Demand change.  Join the movement.

join the movement