Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: Samantha’s Story [SUCCESS]

April 30, 2018

Topics in this episode:

Today’s success story is about a woman named Samantha. She is a 33-year-old health coach who enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family. After discontinuing birth control pills, her period never returned, despite trying the progesterone challenge twice with her OB/GYN. At that point, she was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist, who frustratingly labeled her as unexplained. Following a cancelled IUI cycle, she cut back on running and started eating more healthy fats. Join us to hear how her journey included several more cancelled IUIs, an IVF retrieval cycle, a chemical pregnancy following an FET cycle, and finally, success after she stopped running before her second FET.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Samantha was laid back and was a “big picture” person who didn’t get caught up in life’s details
  • How she met her husband in college when they were both 19. They started dating and never stopped, and then became best friends and were married in 2013
  • As a couple, they are laid back and complement each other well
  • Samantha always assumed there would be children in her life, but wanted the timing to be right
  • Why it was important for her to marry someone who also wanted to have kids
  • After being on the pill for almost 13 years, her period never returned because her body fat percentage was too low because of her marathon running
  • She saw her Ob, tried the progesterone challenge, and then saw an RE after 5 months
  • At the first RE visit, she was “totally blind” and thought Clomid would be the answer
  • After HSG, blood tests, and semen analysis, nothing was abnormal—“unexplained”
  • How Samantha cut back on running and added healthy fats to her diet
  • After doing some research, she realized all symptoms pointed to hypothalamic amenorrhea, probably brought on by her intense exercise: “I didn’t pay attention to my body’s warning signs.”
  • With the suspicion of hypothalamic amenorrhea, at least she had some answers and enabled an action plan: “Now I can fix it.”
  • October 2016: the first IUI cycle with Clomid, which failed. Samantha was disappointed but not surprised
  • Another round of Clomid, several cancelled cycles, not much follicle growth, Letrozole, and the suggestion of moving to IVF
  • Why Samantha cut her running back from 30 miles/week to less than 10 miles/week and added more yoga and acupuncture
  • The egg retrieval yielded 19 eggs and only 2 blasts, then a frozen transfer in April resulted in a chemical pregnancy
  • Why Samantha says letting go of running brought her relief and put her “in a good place”
  • The 2nd transfer in May, a positive result, and a healthy baby delivered on February 1, 2018
  • The difference in Samantha’s BMI: under 17 initially and then rose to a healthy range after she gained 10 lbs. and cut down on running
  • Dealing with expectations and sharing news with friends, parents, and others
  • Samantha never lost all hope, but hit some low points and some hard times, especially 5 weeks into her pregnancy, when bleeding and cramping occurred
  • Fond memories of a bad day (when she learned of the chemical pregnancy) turning into a good day full of support at a fertility awareness event
  • Finding out it was a boy and finally feeling like she really would become a mom
  • Balancing work and treatments when you work for yourself and can make your own schedule
  • The benefits of great insurance coverage: being able to make decisions based on emotions and timing and not purely on a financial basis
  • Her relationship with her husband hasn’t changed, but infertility gave them insight as to how they handle difficulties together
  • With friends and family, Samantha was very open and grew closer as they were understanding and supportive
  • How infertility changed Samantha: “I’m more empathetic around fertility and kids’ issues. I’m not presumptuous about pregnancy and how it happens. It’s easier now to be open about my experiences.”
  • Samantha’s advice to herself back then: “Find out what you need to make you feel hopeful. Find what brings you support and connect with others going through the same things.”

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