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Well I wasn’t expecting this…

Ok, this post is way overdue. Whew, there has been A LOT going on. All that is for another time.

Let’s talk about what I found out at the doctor back on August 31st.

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

A little background first. It hasn’t really been that bad of a summer, heat-wise, with only a few days getting into the 90s. There’s been much hotter summers in the past. But I’ve been sweating up a storm, you guys. Like, it’s 70° in the house and I’m washing dishes, and running up and down the stairs doing laundry and I’m sweating. And I wrote it off as just some weird post partum thing that was my new normal.

It had been happening for the last 2.5 months or so; not the whole summer, I know that. But I brought it up to my mom and a friend and both of them shook their heads.

“No, that I don’t remember happening after having kids,” they both told me.

Then I was talking to a friend while we were out at the park a few weeks ago and again, she said she couldn’t relate.

“How about you go see your old OB?” she suggested,—We share the same one—“It sounds hormonal, so it may be a good idea to see him.”

So I send him a medical message and sure enough, he told me my symptoms we abnormal and that I should make an appointment with him.

I went, feeling incredibly stupid. He greeted me with a huge smile and we made small talk about Olivia and how big she was getting. Have I mentioned how much I love this doctor? Still, I was feeling mighty ridiculous at this point, and starting to think I was just fat and sweaty.

I explained what was going on, and he asked me some questions about the sweating (I hate sweating), if my periods were regular (they are), and how I was sleeping (not great).

And then he said: “I think what you’re experiencing is the start of early menopause.”

I looked at him, my mouth opened, and as it dawned on me, I started closing it slowly.

Of course. Of course.

My AMH was 0.7 back in 2014. AMH is a blood test that determines remaining egg supply. I was diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) and because of that, I had to use an egg donor to get pregnant. According to this site that explains AMH testing… my levels were pretty low.

But no one ever talked about the future implications of DOR. Everything was from a fertility standpoint. No one ever told me I’d be going premenopausal at 31 years old.

But as soon as he said it, and explained my history, it made sense. It made perfect sense and I never saw this coming. It never occurred to me. See above. I thought I was just fat. I made general protests of: “But I talked to other moms and—”

“You can’t compare yourself to other moms,” he said gently, “They aren’t like you. They don’t have egg quality issues and they didn’t need to use a donor. You need to compare yourself to the 40 year old.”

He wanted to run a test called the 21 hydroxylase antibody to see if there were antibodies attacking my ovaries, causing all this (don’t hold your breath; the test was negative) and check my estrogen and AMH levels again—both which he suspects is low. And again, it makes sense. I struggled so bad with my estrogen for every IVF, and terribly for this last donor cycle. For those that aren’t into clicking on my handy back links, here is what I said March 2015 right before my transfer with Olivia:

Then there has been concerns with my estrogen levels over the past week. So you would think that with how much I cry, I would have enough estrogen flowing through me to not think twice about it, right? Right?Right?

Wrong.

In past IVF cycles, using my own eggs, I never found out until all was said and done and we were moving on that I have always had borderline low estrogen throughout cycles. I was told estrogen and uterine lining kind of go hand in hand. In other words, a thin uterine lining usually means lower estrogen levels.

So March 13th, my lining was 8.4 mm and estrogen was 249. The doctor had me add an extra patch to my stomach.

March 17th, lining was 9.1 mm and estrogen ended up being 195. They want to see a lining of at least 7mm, so my lining was great, but my estrogen level dropped. So in addition to the added patch, the nurse told me to continue my estrace pills three times a day under my tongue, but add a fourth pill vaginally at night. They wanted to see estrogen levels at least 200, so I was now in danger of shedding my lining early, aka get my period, effectively canceling the entire cycle, so naturally I found myself once again FREAKING THE FUCK OUT! But not to fear, Infertile, let’s just take those Estrace tablets that you have been putting under your tongue and just start shoving a couple of those bad boys up your vagina and hope that helps!

I found out my AMH last week was a pathetic 0.5. So it dropped, which we knew. Estrogen levels so far haven’t come back yet (figures), but let’s be honest, they’re low.

So he wants to put me on birth control pills to try to bring up my estrogen to a normal level. He’s hoping that could help my symptoms, but unfortunately can’t stop the early menopause from happening.

I made my usual snickers and jokes about being back on birth control after being hopelessly infertile, but I appreciated that he said he’s delivered plenty of birth control babies. I appreciate him not writing me off, even though I’ve never held the illusion that I will ever conceive on my own.

So now I have these pills and can’t remember exactly when I’m supposed to start them, because it’s been years since I’ve been on them. I’m not crazy about the one I was prescribed, because looking at the user reviews online, it seems everyone pretty much hates this pill. I don’t ever remember my old pills giving me much side effects, so who knows how it will effect me.

That night of my doctor’s visit, Chris asked me how I was feeling about all this. I told him I initially walked out of there in tears. I admit, it was a big blow. It was just another way my body’s failed me.

But I’m OK. I mean, it sucks. I’m about to be 32 and having premenopausal symptoms. But… it’s OK. Let’s let this infertile get on some birth control and see what happens.

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20 Comments on "Well I wasn’t expecting this…"

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Jane allen
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Oh Risa, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It’s hard enough to deal with infertility, early menopause is just another kick in the pants. With regard to the pills, you can start at any time, you don’t need to wait for your period. the only advantage of starting the pills on Sunday is that you won’t get your period on the weekend. You can message me about the specific pill, but one that has been suggested for the menopause transition (sorry that I had to write that) is Natazia. the estrogen level varies from day to day… Read more »
Beth
Guest
Oh lady, I am sending you virtual hugs because the universe just keeps throwing it at you. But if anyone can handle this, it’s you. I know you only through your blog and emailing, but I can tell how tough and resilient you are. You’ve got this and whatever else jumps in your path. And hey, I’m 40 so when you need to compare yourself to the 40 year old, I’m right here. 😉 I’m an infertile with an IUD so we will have plenty to talk about – oh the ironies of life. Start those pills, be kind to… Read more »
DublinerInDeutschland
Guest

I’m sorry, that probably came as a bit of a shock especially that you are still so young.

Amie
Guest

Geez this sucks!! I am so sorry you have to deal with this but it seems you at least have some answers. Not the ones you want of course. I feel like I get these hot flashes or sweats in the mornings but it seems to be after I start drinking coffee so I didn’t know if that was the cause or something else. Now you have me wondering?? I am 38 so almost 40 and on pills so there is that we sort of will have in common..sorry trying to find some humor here!

Nonsequiturchica
Guest

Oh no I’m so sorry to hear about the latest kick in the pants. I had menopause-light after a shot to help me with my fibroid/endo surgery and it wasn’t fun. I hope the bc pills help.

Cristy
Guest

Damnit Risa. Damnit, damnit, damnit. I’m so sorry. I know it all makes sense, but it’s still a blow. I’m glad your OB is taking this seriously and there’s a plan of action. Still, be good to yourself and keep doing what you need to do. I’m thinking of you.

Amber
Guest

I’m glad you have an answer to all the sweating, but geez. Give an infertile a break already! I’m sorry you are having to deal with pre-menopausal symptoms.

Mali
Guest

Oh wow, that sucks. I hope your estrogen gets back up again, because those symptoms are unpleasant no matter when we get them, but at least when I’ve had them they were not unexpected. Wishing you well.

Jess
Guest
I am so sorry, what a kick when you’re down. I am glad that your doctor is thinking of the big picture though, because I am finding that everyone’s all about your diagnosis when you’re trying to get pregnant, but for a lot of these things there are lifelong implications and it can feel like that isn’t related to the thing that caused so much physical and emotional pain…but it is. I’m sorry you’re premenopausal at such a young age, and I hope that you can be on something that will help without awful side effects. I have been sweating… Read more »
KatherineA12
Guest

I am so sorry. Dealing with the emotional impact of a diagnosis like this is more than enough, but then to have unpleasant physical symptoms on top is just plain unfair and sucky. Sending thoughts.

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