When asked about the worst medication that I had to take when undergoing IVF, my surprising answer is – birth control pills. Of course, I didn’t love the shots, or hot flashes caused by other medicines, but the hormonal surges, caused by “the pill,” were by far the hardest to endure. I took birth control pills prior to trying to conceive (obviously before I knew that was unnecessary) and never found one without overwhelming side-effects. The pill made me moody and anxious, sad or irritable, gave me headaches, and just generally did not contribute to a good quality of life. The difference when I was taking them and when I wasn’t was so pronounced that it prompted my husband to proclaim, “wow, hormones are really powerful.”
I definitely agree with him; and more and more tend to believe that they may be even more powerful than we know. Hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on fertility, and do in a lot of cases. Those of us who undertake fertility treatments monitor our estrogen and progesterone and know that the right balance is critical to successful conception. If, like me, you suffer with PCOS or cysts that affect fertility, you know that cysts that are so common in many women, can mean disaster for an IVF or IUI cycle. It is generally understood that many ovulation disorders and cysts result from excess estrogen.
Since having large fibroids removed, and seeing numerous cysts and polyps on my hundreds of ultrasounds throughout the years, I have often wondered if there is anything I can do to reduce the frequency or severity of these growths. I did come across some research that indicates that there are certain things that can be avoided that may help reduce the amount of estrogen in your system, and in turn reduce the occurrence of cysts. Those who subscribe to natural fertility enhancement methods suggest that soy foods should be avoided. Alright with me, since I can’t think of a single thing I eat that contains soy. They also say to eat only organic meats and dairy. I don’t do this, but might if I was still trying to conceive. As is, I can barely ingest the appropriate number of servings of non-organic meat and dairy and the added expense is just not doable right now. That being said, I do think there are benefits, outside of fertility enhancement, to making the organic switch.
Some other suggestions that I found interesting and that I try to remind myself of are not to microwave foods in plastic, not to drink out of plastic water bottles, use natural detergents, and avoid mineral oil in skin products. I initially shrugged off the idea of foregoing my, oh so easy plastic bottles and microwave safe containers. Then, I read more about plastics and new recommendations on heating foods and bottles for children and resolved not to use particular plastics to serve my kids. If I won’t do it to my children, I shouldn’t do it to myself either. I admit that I do forget sometimes and pick up a bottled water or nuke my meal on a plastic plate – but I do try. Hopefully I will enjoy, in addition to better healthy and environmental awareness, a lesser chance of developing more debilitating fibroids or cysts.