Voices of PCOS: Gabriela’s Story – A Fertility Specialist Takes Charge of Her Fertility
Posted Sep 20 2012 9:00am
September is PCOS Awareness Month. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects as many as 5 million women in the United States alone and is often one of the most undiagnosed endocrine disorders in women. PCOS doesn’t just impact a woman’s fertility; it can affect her mood, weight and even lifelong health. Here at The Infertility Voice, we’re observing PCOS Awareness Month by featuring a guest post in our Voices of PCOS series each Thursday of this month.
Fertility Specialist: Taking Charge of My Fertility
by Gabriela Rosa
For over 12 years now I have been helping couples overcome fertility problems with excellent results and I love what I do. What I’ve never shared before is that for a little longer than that I have personally lived with questions about my own fertility. Let me tell you a little bit about my story…
About 15-16 years ago, once I had started my naturopathic studies and began learning more about the negative effects of the oral contraceptive pill, I decided I wanted to stop taking it and use natural contraceptive methods, such as basal temperature and mucus charting (much like I teach my patients) for the ultimate benefit of my health and fertility in the long term. The only problem was that after stopping the pill my periods simply did not return. Initially I thought it was just the effects of the hormones leaving my body and they would soon regulate themselves and get back to normal – but after what seemed like forever… nothing was happening.
About six months later I started to become somewhat concerned. I decided it was time to see a gynaecologist, get more tests and find out what was going on.
What a dreadful experience that was! I will never forget the first words that came out of this doctor’s mouth after I had explained what I was experiencing: “Every woman is pregnant until proven otherwise.” And that was straight after I had already told him I had just done a pregnancy test and WAS NOT pregnant. Needless to say I was very frustrated and upset by this whole encounter. I got out with no answers or explanation as to the types of things that could cause my problem; his parting words: “Call me in two days so I can tell you whether you are pregnant or not.” My only thoughts were you’ll never see me again! But I did call in two days to see if he could tell me anything else.
That phone call was, looking back now, straight out of a bad taste comedy sketch. And probably the worst example of patient care, other than probably telling someone they had a terminal illness over the phone (which luckily wasn’t the case here).
After speaking to his secretary and explaining I was told to call etc., she puts me through to the doctor and he proceeded to tell me I am not pregnant (I already knew that!), however I did have “Polycystic Ovarian DISEASE!” He actually said DISEASE! My first thought: “Oh my! I’m going to die!” Then he just mumbled something about not having periods, male pattern hair growth, pimples and infertility and said to see him in again in 6-12 months to go back on the pill if I still hadn’t gotten a period.
Although I had dabbled in herbs and other natural treatments whilst I was studying, I really hadn’t become serious about taking control of my body and my health until the physical symptoms became absolutely unacceptable. It was then I made a decision to change it all. I followed the naturopathic principles in my life I had learnt and it was then my “preconception preparation” and absolute healthy living became top priority.
There was no coffee, alcohol, or chemicals; there was decreased radiation, plenty of healthy food, daily exercise (and everything else I teach), in addition to the supplements and other fertility boosters such as herbal medicines. This is pretty much how I lived my life from that point forward.
With all the self-care and naturopathic treatment the 2 years of diligent effort were a success. I now had between 4-6 periods per year (better than the zero periods per year I was having before); I had lost weight – 15 kg to be exact – and my skin was radiant once again. I felt a lot better overall… but the question of infertility still lingered.
One day, when we finally decided to start trying to have a baby, it was about pinpointing the perfect window (which we all know PCOS can make quite tricky). Then finally, my mucus peaked and became spinn, I said to my husband, “We can try now if you want to.” Needless to say he welcomed the opportunity We had a conception attempt and I literally forgot about it and kept living life.
One morning, when I least expected, I took my temperature like I had done for the last 10+ years and on this morning, a few days before my period was due there was a distinct peak that made me think: “It can’t be…! But maybe it is…!”
So just to be sure, I got out of bed straight away and went to the supermarket (this is how unprepared I was) to get a pregnancy test. Got back home, peed on the stick, a faint 2nd line. I put it down and was totally convinced it was wrong. Then, got out of the house again, completed a pathology request form and went to get blood test. Had a full day in the clinic. Then before going home, I call the lab for the result. The male voice on the other side says BHCG 66.
Ten weeks, twelve weeks… still no symptoms at all: no breast pain, morning sickness, nothing. I was so worried when we went to have our nuchal translucency scan because I thought surely there either was no baby or the baby was not alive. To my absolute shock, surprise and delight, there was a live fetus at the nuchal translucency and the results were all good.
Fast forward a few months and Jake Leon graced our lives arriving at 40 weeks and 3 days, after a vaginal birth on 28th June 2012 weighing 3.77kg and measuring 56cm.
I am now even more passionate about educating and empowering women and men struggling to conceive to create truly healthy babies. And I feel truly blessed despite the long road that led us here.
Leading natural fertility specialist, author and naturopath, Gabriela Rosa (MScM (RHHG) (Cand.), BHSc, ND, Post Grad NFM, DBM, Dip Nut, MATMS, MNHAA) is the creator of The Natural Fertility Breakthrough , a website and community aimed at empowering couples to reclaim their natural fertility and create truly healthy babies.
Thank you Gabriela for sharing your inspiring journey with us!
If you have PCOS, natural approaches have you taken to managing your symptoms and fertility? And don’t forget to tune in next Thursday when we hear from Hillary Wright at The PCOS Diet Plan !