Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pondering Progesterone + A Related Rant

Since I secured the script for progesterone suppositories, I've been researching the hormone and I'm shocked at what I've learned in the last few days.  Everyone knows that hormonal imbalances can cause problems and I'm starting to think that I've had lower-than-"average" progesterone for a long time because I have been experiencing half of the symptoms for a few years now.

Symptoms of progesterone deficiency include:
- Frequent menstrual periods, specifically cycles shorter than 24 days.  Geez, I'd be thrilled if I actually had a 24-day cycle because it's usually around 20.
- Heavy menstrual periods.  I've discussed this at length this week and the sheer volume I'm shedding is extremely distressing.
- Mental and physical fatigue.  I kinda chalked this up motherhood, but I have noticed that it is getting worse rather than improving over the last couple of years.
- Headaches & migraine headaches.  I have suffered migraines for years, but it has improved and (knock on wood) I haven't had one in several months.  Regular headaches, on the other hand. . .the week isn't complete unless I have had a few.
- Insomnia.  OMFG!  I CAN NOT SLEEP - EVER!  I have been blaming it on my husband's snoring, but he's always done it and I've had sleep difficulties for around three-years so, yeah, something has changed.
- Depression.  I don't feel that it's fair to peg this on progesterone deficiency because the last twelve-months have brought me to my knees, but perhaps the lower hormone levels has made it more difficult to handle the stress and turmoil.
- Mood swings.  I never thought I had this, but my husband has took me aside to tell me that my temper sometimes lights up so fast that it's almost scary.  Perhaps it's a progesterone thing rather than my childish lack of control?
- Anxiety.  Eh, I've been a nervous wreck since I was a kid.
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight.  I so wish I could blame my current size on low progesterone, but the reality is that I'm just fat & lazy and I eat too much.
- Osteoporosis.  Good grief, I hope I don't have this.
- Increased HDL cholesterol.  I've had cholesterol problems off and on since I was 19-years old so I'm pretty sure this isn't related to hormones.
- Pain & inflammation.  Thankfully, I'm not suffering with this.
- Fibroids.  Again, I'm so thankful to not have this.
- Breast tenderness.  You probably need a little breast flesh for this symptom and I'm woefully under-endowed.
- Gas & indigestion.  I burp a lot, but I think it's the fizzy water.
- Snoring.  Never.  Tooth grinding, however. . .
- Miscarriage.  No f*cking comment. 

Actually, no, I do have a comment on that last "symptom."  More of a rant, I suppose.

I am furious to think that my baby may have died because my regular MD was so dismissive of my concerns about progesterone back in late-September.  I conceived shortly thereafter and didn't pursue it because I didn't know that low progesterone levels can result in miscarriage.  Why didn't I know that?  Because I'm not the f*cking doctor!!

My husband, realizing that I'm obsessing over this not-so-little detail, keeps reminding me that he's just a doctor rather than a specialist so perhaps he didn't know either.  I think that's a piss-poor excuse because he knew that I'd been trying to have a baby for a loooong freaking time and he knew enough about fertility to mention that I was considered infertile at that point because I had been trying to conceive for well over a year.  He knew I was having trouble and he didn't even bother to investigate any further to help his patient.  I was still shell-shocked over the death of my brother only a few weeks earlier and I didn't have the energy to push for answers and help. . .I so regret now that I didn't fight for myself because, had I done so, perhaps I'd be in my second trimester right this moment.

If he somehow didn't know that low progesterone can result in problems like infertility and miscarriage, then he still should have done something besides just dismiss my concerns.  He could have said that he didn't know enough about my levels to make any diagnosis or recommendation.  And how could he know anything since he didn't even send me for any damn testing?  Even better, he could have just referred me to gynecology from the start.

Had there been any testing performed or any indication that my levels were low (besides experiencing more than half the freaking list of  progesterone deficiency symptoms!), the progesterone suppositories could have been started back then and my baby may not have died.  That knowledge makes me sick with anger.  My poor baby probably didn't have a chance!

And this leads me to the rest of my rant. . .

Why does the medical community ignore miscarriage and treat it like no big deal until a woman experiences at least two or three losses?  Especially galling is that they have the same response (lack of response, really) even if you're in your mid-30s and have been experiencing fertility difficulties.  A woman's fertility starts diminishing in her late 20s and it really gets tricky to conceive once she's closer to 40.  I tried for over 1 1/2-years to get pregnant (it's two years this month) and it just seems like it would have been prudent to monitor my progesterone levels since I was already over 35-years of age and it had already been such a long time trying to conceive.  I can't help but wonder how long it will take to conceive again.  (please, please, please let it be on this cycle!)

Testing progesterone levels is a simple blood stick.  Why wouldn't they routinely test a woman's progesterone levels after her first miscarriage?  Hell, since progesterone levels can be low ten to fifteen years before menopause, why wouldn't they routinely test any woman in her 30s who is experiencing menstrual difficulties?

I have so much to say about this, but thinking about it just makes me feel more angry and more heartbroken so I have to stop writing for my own sanity.  I just think it's complete and total bullsh*t that miscarriages are ignored until a woman has lost at least two babies. . .at least two heartbeats silenced.  It's so ridiculously unfair and it's just not right.

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