{Guest post} Laura – Weight Loss and the Pain of Trying to Conceive

Today’s guest post is from Laura, a Mummy of two who blogs over at Laura’s Lovely Blog. She talks about a journey I am very familiar with, losing weight in order to conceive.
It’s funny, I spent most of my 20s trying not to get pregnant.
Having a mini panic attack if there was a slip up. Because in my mind there was
no way I was ready.
Of course after all the contraception fastidiousness it seemed to
me that as soon as we started trying to fall pregnant, that it would be easy,
that it would just happen. That the little spermy blighters were just desperate
to *ahem* get in there a give me a baby.
How foolish I was. Particularly as I already knew I had PCOS
(polycystic ovary syndrome).
After a year or so of trying we knew we needed some help and went
to the doctors. Then ensued a period of time of tests, internal scans, my
husband driving through rush hours with pots of things to be checked, dye tests
for me – investigations to see what was going on.
The verdict? I wasn’t ovulating at all. We would be unable to
conceive naturally.
My weight had been mentioned at some of the consultations and I
was encouraged to lose some. But at the consultation where the news about my
ovulation was delivered, I expected a next steps, medical solution. Clomid (a
fertility drug) and then IVF were discussed as the right path for us. What I
hadn’t expected was a refusal of treatment unless I lost weight. I was given
BMI goals and a next appointment which if I hit that goal we could start
Clomid. I was told if I hadn’t hit my weight goal by my appointment time then I
should reschedule, because we wouldn’t start until then.
I came home and balled my eyes out. I had no idea how I was going
to lose weight. No idea how I was going to manage and having my own baby seemed
unreachable. My weight has been an issue pretty much since my teens. At the
time of my fertility tests, I had been a member of a popular slimming club for
a year. I had lost some, gained some, but overall pretty much stayed the same
weight.
I was honestly so overwhelmed about how I was going to manage to
lose 3 stone. Then my husband mentioned a meal replacement/shake diet his boss
had done at work. At first I was horrified at the prospect at not eating, but
you see I was pretty desperate at this time. I made a call to a local
consultant, found out more about it and then decided to go for it. We both
wanted children more than anything.
There was a part of me that hated that doctor that day. I knew I
needed to lose weight, of course I did. I had watched friends and family have
babies while we carried on ‘trying’. My sister got pregnant twice during this
time. When she told me about her second pregnancy I just started sobbing on the
phone. Then I felt awful for spoiling her news and called back the next morning
and apologised.
However, I did it. I lost the three stone. Staggeringly quickly
in fact. The Friday before our appointment (which was the following Thursday)
my brother-in-law called to say his wife was pregnant. Let’s just say it was
lucky I was working from home that day. But, you know, unbeknownst to me I was
already pregnant.
The next week I felt so sick, I nearly passed out at work on the
Tuesday and put it down to some prawns I had eaten at work. I never considered
the possibility I could be pregnant. It was my sister who convinced me to take
a test. I was so convinced I wouldn’t be pregnant, I took the test left it on
the side and went downstairs made a cup of tea and feed our pets. Annoyingly,
my husband was away with work too. I went in to eventually check the test, saw
the result, walked out the bathroom and went back to double check. I was so
gobsmacked I had to text a picture to my sister to check I wasn’t seeing
things. Then I couldn’t get through to my husband. He called back about 20
minutes later and said I’ve got about a million missed calls from you – is
everything ok? 🙂
Sometimes it’s annoying when the doctors are right, that my
weight was such a huge issue for my fertility was hard to take. It was crushing
at the time. For people who struggle with their weight, I find it is often a
huge emotional and psychological as well as a physical burden. But I was able
to change this and in doing so gave birth to my amazing son. It took two and a
half years, but it was well worth the (pardon the pun) wait. When we started
trying for our second, our daughter, I immediately went on a diet 4 months
later I was pregnant. I know now that my weight in intrinsically linked with my
fertility. I can’t say that this doesn’t annoy me. But at the same time I am
immensely grateful for my children and that we didn’t end up going down the IVF
route and feel so much for the people that do. Becoming a mother is the best
thing that ever happened to me.

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Thank you Laura for sharing your journey. It’s wonderful that you managed to conceive naturally due to your weight loss.

#NIAW – National Infertility Awareness Week

As many of my regular readers will know, infertility is a subject which is close to my heart as I have been through it myself (you can familiarise yourself with my story here), as well as the journey of many friends. It is still such a taboo subject which many do not like to talk about, especially those going through it. 


It is the fear of that stigma being put on them that they don’t work – though from personal experience, I also know many put this label on themselves – I did. 


Infertility is nobody’s fault. But you think it is – your own – I know that. 


For those who haven’t experienced infertility, or don’t know (of) anyone who has, did you know:

  • after pregnancy, infertility is the most common reason for women aged 20-45 to visit their GP
  • 1 in 6 couples in the UK experience difficulty conceiving – that’s around 3.5 million people
  • over 60, 000 cycles of IVF are performed in the UK each year, yet fewer than 25% of these are successful 
  • the majority of fertility treatment in the UK has to be paid for privately as the NHS provision can vary tremendously depending on your postcode
  • in over 40% of instances of infertility, the causes are unexplained
  • fertility declines with age – and that applies to men as well as women, albeit to a lesser extent

Before I discovered I suffered from infertility, I didn’t.


I guess I was lucky in a sense, that the cause of my infertility was able to be explained – PCOS.


I was also lucky that I didn’t have to pay for treatment, as it worked quite quickly. Unfortunately, some are not so lucky, and have to go their whole lives suffering, in pain. Pain that you can’t see, but it is there. Right under the surface. 


People shouldn’t have to go through this pain alone.


Support is crucial.


Awareness is crucial.


Talk.

 

I am a number.
I am no longer ashamed.
I am proud. 

Weight loss journey – week 1

Last week I posted about my restart of my weight loss journey. Since then I have kind of been going it alone, but have lost 2.2lbs in the progress! Today I’ve signed up to Tesco Diets, as I decided this was the best option for me, for now. They have many food plans to follow which you change at any time during your journey; for now, I’ve opted for the low GI plan as I know this will also help with controlling my PCOS symptoms and make it easier to lose the weight. 


The site gives you your meal plan for the week, but you can change it wherever you like. I like this idea, as I think it is structure and planning which I need, as I usually just grab whatever there is, or decide on what’s for dinner right before I make it! I’m going to have to have a proper look through my dinner plan every week though, as I need something that I can make for all 3 of us as I don’t really want to be making two seperate meals every day. 


The fact there are no physical meetings doesn’t really bother me as I have online support from friends anyway, and I’ve managed to lose the weight I have so far without any kind of meeting. Though I suppose that would give me motivation, but I think to be really motivated you have to feel it for yourself. I’ve decided I’m going to print out pictures of how I looked before, and how I want to look again, and stick them to my cupboards and fridge, just as a little nudge and reminder when I want something naughty! 


I need to get back into some sort of exercise routine too, as at the minute I only really walk with little man and the pram. I’ve been thinking of starting up the 30 Day Shred again, but would have to do it during little man’s waking hours as I just cannot exercise in the morning. I think he’d probably find it really funny and just giggle at me the whole way through! I completed it (on the 2nd attempt) before I was pregnant, and haven’t done it since.. I hated it at first but ended up loving it. Though I have the case of ‘I will start it tomorrow..’ and just never get around to it! 


So my logged starting weight from now is 12st 4lbs, and my target weight is 9st 7lbs. I will re-evaluate when I get there though. Once I get to this final target weight, I will have lost around 5st in total; I’ve lost around 2st so far. My weekly target for the next week is to lose 1lb, and I WILL do it! 

PCOS – how it affects

Earlier this month I wrote a post on the facts of PCOS. This post will be about the affect it has had, or it has, on other people.


My experience with PCOS has been quite short in a way, but looking back from during diagnosis and afterwards, I think in a way it has been a lengthy one too. Ever since I started my periods they have been horrendous – heavy, long, never knowing when they were going to start/end. At school I was put on tablets because they were so heavy, but they made me sick so I stopped taking them. And then I went on the contraceptive pill about aged 13, which kind of regulated them and made them not so bad. Then, when I stopped taking it around aged 18 (in 2005), the troubles started again. Mainly irregular periods & very quick weight gain, which I also found very hard to lose so just gave up when I tried (also some excess hair and acne). Then when we decided in 2008 that we would start trying to conceive in the January of 2009, this is when I noticed my periods were worse than ever, not knowing when my next was going to arrive, then when it did lasting for weeks and weeks and weeks, until I finally went to the doctor each time to get norithisterone to stop it. And then many of my readers will know that clomid worked for me in helping to conceive. That’s as far as I will go regarding that, as the rest of my history is here. So, looking back, I’m pretty sure there was something wrong with me before starting the pill, most likely a mild form of PCOS, and the pill made the symptoms worse? 




B’s experience


“When I was told at 19 I had PCOS it totally destroyed my confidence. I knew little about it, but thought that it was just my periods that were messed up. I didn’t know about my hair falling out by handfuls, the huge weight gain and the awful mood swings I get. It’s an invisible disease and no one can understand how it controls a lot of your health (I also suffer from insulin resistance due to PCOS). All of these came to second to when I was told I could never have children. Got everything they crossed the come out with a better treatment for PCOS than metformin”


N’s experience


I know I should go to the GP and talk about it and my infertility but I’m instead hiding away about it, because if it just doesn’t happen I can just say it’s one of those things, we never even went to the GP or anything. But if I go through the tests and the clomid and it still doesn’t happen, there’s just no hope left”


I briefly mentioned about metformin in my previous post about PCOS, which is a drug used to help with weight and regulation of periods/ovulation. There are mixed opinions from users of metformin. One reader (M) says “Metformin actually works and is very effective with PCOS… I had not seen one single AF for a whole year and when I started taking it I lost 12 kilos and I got my AF back”. Another user (L) debated this saying “I’m thinking along the lines that metformin doesn’t always work, I’ve been on it for 6 months now and I haven’t seen AF since”. Both of these readers also mentioned about how they have suffered from depression, as well as a lot of other ladies that I know of who suffer from PCOS.


So, we can see that the physical effects it has on an individual, can vary from person to person, but many emotions remain the same across the board. 

PCOS

As part of PCOS awareness month, I am going to be writing a couple of posts on PCOS and how it can affect individuals. 


PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is thought to affect approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age – so every 1 in 20 to 1 in 10 women. Of these, as many as 30% do not actually have PCO (Polycystic Ovaries) as a symptom (I would be an example of this). Of course this is not a definitive number, as many women go undiagnosed for years. For example, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 24, and this was after 10 months of investigation. Some women can also just have PCO without any other symptom of PCOS. 


There are many symptoms of PCOS, some are visible to other people, some are not. 

  • absent or irregular periods
  • no ovulation/infrequent ovulation
  • high levels of testosterone
  • being overweight or obese
  • excess hair
  • acne
  • depression/mood swings
  • cysts on the ovary/ies
  • infertility
PCO/PCOS is thought to be one of the leading causes of infertility in women. 



What are cysts on the ovaries? 

We all know that cysts are fluid filled sacs. But on the ovaries, cysts form when follicles (where the egg develops) stop growing too early, and instead of the follicles bursting to release the egg, they form cysts.


I think I may have PCOS, what should I do? 


Go to see your GP, and explain your symptoms. If they rule out other problems and agree with you, they will probably send you for tests such as blood tests and an ultrasound scan. If you are then diagnosed with PCOS, you may be referred to a specialist.

Can PCOS be treated? 


Yes it can, both through self help (eating a healthy balanced diet, exercise, managing stress levels, and various hair removal methods for excess hair) and medical help (such as the contraceptive pill, metformin, and fertility medicines such as clomifene (also known as clomid). In other cases, surgery may be required). The thing to remember is that although it can be treated, it cannot be cured. 


Although PCOS has symptoms to diagnose it, PCOS can also cause other things, such as
  • type II diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • depression/anxiety
  • weight gain
  • miscarriage


The good thing is, that infertility caused by PCOS can be treated in many cases, and couples can come away with a perfectly healthy baby. Unfortunately, some are not so lucky. This will be covered in another blog post.

Which symptoms of PCOS do you display? How & when did you discover you had PCOS?

For further information, see these sources: BUPAWikipediaNHS