Starting a family is not an easy goal for couples. Some couples try for longer periods of time and put in more effort than others...
Do you know exactly what your hormones are doing right now? And if you did, would you know what that meant? Hormone trends are a vital part of a person’s health, but many of us have no idea how our’s are behaving. For some, their hormones work in harmony with the rest of their bodies, letting them feel their best and accomplish their goals. But for others, hormone imbalances wreak havoc on their lives, causing debilitating issues. One issue which can have many causes, but is commonly tied to hormone imbalances, is infertility.
Many couples conceive naturally within the first year of trying, but unfortunately, infertility is becoming more and more common. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility in some way. Their journey to parenthood becomes more complicated than they had ever imagined.
Rachel’s fertility journey was one of those. She and her husband got married in 2014 but decided to wait to have children. Like many young adults, they wanted to become more established in their careers, travel, and pursue personal endeavors before becoming parents. When they felt ready, they started trying to conceive and had their first son in March of 2019. “Looking back, I was so blissfully ignorant about struggles with fertility. I didn’t really know what women went through,” Rachel said. Her pregnancy was seamless- she got pregnant right after she started trying, she felt great the whole time, and had a natural birth. It all went smoothly.
Rachel had always imagined she’d have two kids, and after her son was about a year old, she felt ready to start trying for a second child. She got pregnant with her second baby in May of 2020. “I went into that pregnancy thinking, this is great, it’ll be like the first one- easy peasy,” Rachel said. When she was eight weeks pregnant, she went into the doctor’s office for a checkup. They did a scan and found no heartbeat. Rachel was crushed to learn that she’d had a miscarriage. “That was pretty devastating to me,” she said. No one expects to lose a baby; Rachel was both shocked and shattered. She did some research and found that 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. With that in mind, she decided to start trying again, hoping it was just a fluke. She got pregnant in July of 2020, but this ended in a chemical pregnancy. “At that point, I was getting pretty frustrated,” Rachel said. The excitement and devastation of these two pregnancies put Rachel on an emotional rollercoaster. It was upsetting and confusing. She didn’t know what was going on. She’d had such an easy time with her son, so she tried to remain hopeful that she could still have another healthy pregnancy.
In September 2020, Rachel became pregnant for the fourth time, and everything seemed to be back on track. The baby’s heartbeat was at a good rate, and their measurements all looked perfect. “At that point, I started to get really optimistic and thought that things would be okay this time,” Rachel said. She let out a sigh of relief- those losses, although heartbreaking, were in fact flukes, and she now had another healthy pregnancy. When she was 11 weeks pregnant, she went to her doctor for a checkup, and they did a scan- the doctors found no heartbeat. “That was crushing to me. I didn’t understand how things could be going so well, then all of a sudden crash down,” said Rachel. Trying to conceive had become one of the darkest, and most upsetting times of her life.
Rachel knew that it was time to take control of the situation and find out what was really going on. The second she got home from that appointment, she called a fertility clinic and asked them to fit in her as soon as possible. “I realized I needed to start taking this seriously. I needed to figure out what was happening and educate myself,” she said. “I dove in headfirst to everything and anything about fertility.” She started reading fertility books to learn everything she possibly could. “The most helpful for me was Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and It Starts with an Egg,” Rachel said. These books taught her that she could learn a lot from her cycle. She decided to be more in tune with what her body was doing each month to discover possible issues.
Rachel learned in her research that spotting between periods could be a sign of low progesterone. Progesterone is a vital hormone for fertility; it helps keep the uterine lining thick to support implantation and early pregnancy. Spotting between her periods was a symptom that Rachel had been experiencing for a long time, but had never questioned. Many women go through this: they realize that a symptom they had long accepted as normal (i.e., extremely painful periods, severe hormonal acne, irregular cycles) puts them at risk for fertility challenges. Rachel began using at-home progesterone testing kits to try and figure out if she did, in fact, have low progesterone.
Rachel immediately found these tests complicated and tricky to use. They worked similarly to pregnancy tests: she peed on a stick, and if there was a line, it meant her progesterone was low that day; if there was no line, her progesterone level was normal. These tests relied on Rachel seeing if there was a line in the first 10 minutes after her testing. The tests were subjective and often impossible to understand: “I always thought I had maybe seen the line, but couldn’t really tell how dark it was, and I ended up having to email their customer support every time asking if there was a line or not,” she said, “It became stressful and confusing.” As a woman going through a devastating infertility journey, added worry was the last thing she needed.
When it became clear that these tests were not working for her, she searched for an alternative. That’s how she learned about Oova. Oova is also a urine test, but it measures hormones quantitatively- that means users get their exact hormone measurements, with a number attached. The test measures luteinizing hormone (which pinpoints ovulation), as well as progesterone, the variable that Rachel believed could illuminate her fertility. She decided to order Oova to give it a try. “When I found Oova, what I really liked was that it not only measured my progesterone, but it measured it in a way that gave a numerical value that could be converted to blood levels,” she said, “I also liked how it measured the LH at the same time, to help you figure out where you are in your cycle, how close you are to ovulating.”
Rachel used Oova for a few weeks, and it became clear to her that something was wrong with her progesterone levels. “Oova was a great tool for me on my journey. It helped me piece together that I had low progesterone and short luteal phases. This helped me talk to my doctor about things I could do to improve that, to make it better,” Rachel said. She learned about her hormone trends, and took all of this new data to her doctor. From this, her doctor was able to confirm that there was a problem with her progesterone and luteal phases. Armed with this information, along with her research about fertility, Rachel knew what to do next.
Rachel changed her lifestyle through improving her diet and exercise, and taking recommended supplements. Through all of this, she continued to use Oova in order to monitor her hormone levels and take note of any changes. Month after month, Rachel’s progesterone levels started to rise, and her luteal phase got longer. This was all due to the specific changes that she made to address particular issues.
Rachel had the information she needed to take steps in the right direction, and she credits Oova for helping her to understand exactly what her hormones were doing. “With Oova, there’s way less guessing- you would get the hormone levels back in a number form... To me, that was the cutting edge difference between Oova and other products,” she said. “It was less stressful to know I had my results. I trusted it. Looking at the color of a line and second guessing yourself, asking for other people’s opinions and then hearing different things, it made the experience even more stressful.” Rachel appreciated that with Oova, there was no variability- she just peed on a stick, scanned the QR code, and got all the information she needed.
Rachel was able to access a part of her health that she had never had access to: her hormone behavior. Our hormones are powerful messengers that control many vital aspects of our body, such as fertility, metabolism, sleep, sex drive, and more. The problem is, we usually don’t get to know exactly what’s going on with our hormones. But if we did, we may be able to get to the bottom of many symptoms that ail us, such as lack of energy, insomnia, or weight fluctuations. For Rachel, learning about her hormones allowed her to take action in her fertility journey, and eventually reach her goals.
In June of 2021, Rachel got pregnant. She is currently still expecting, and is thankful that she was able to unlock the puzzle piece that was preventing her from having a healthy pregnancy. Learning about her body gave her the power to know exactly what to do in order to reach her goals. Ultimately, what solved her problem was learning about what her body needed, and making adjustments that worked for her.
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