This cycle, I decided that I was REALLY going to faithfully take the Vitex that I purchased a couple of months ago. So, I started on CD1 taking the recommended dosage on the bottle.
I started taking the Vitex because I have read in approximatley one trillion nine hundred ninety seven thousand places that it can aid in lengthening the luteal phase. It is also supposed to be great for regulating hormones in general. Since getting my cycle and ovulation back, my luteal phase has been a few days too short according to what everyone says it should be. Since I'm hoping to start inseming in the next month or two, I wanted to be sure that it would be long enough to support a pregnancy.
My period was unremarkable -- it's still tending to run a bit long, but it finished at CD9. Around CD5, I started getting REALLY sore breasts and I was STARVING and CRAVING salt and chocolate. I found this a bit puzzling since I usually get these symptoms with PMS. Though, since my cycle resumed these symptoms weren't really that prevalent. I didn't think much of it I assumed the vitex was just doing it's thing.
Suddenly, on the evening of CD12 - Friday July 2, I started bleeding again. But this time it was HEAVY. I mean really heavy. And it just kept getting worse. On Sunday morning, I was bleeding through a super+ tampon an hour. This is the point at which things are not safe if they continue. So, I called my doctor and they wanted to put me on progesterone to stop the bleeding. By this point, I decided to stop taking the Vitex in case that was the cause. I bargained with the doctor and agreed to pick up the progesterone, but not take it yet. She said that was fine providing that I was not, weak, light headed, having chest pains, or nausea. If any of that happened I was to get thee to the ER at Women & Infants immediately.
So, I picked up the Rx and then drove to the health food store to try to get some natural progesterone cream. I figured this would be a bit more gentle than a pill form progesterone. As you know, I am not a fan of chemically altering my body, but I am also not a fan of bleeding to death. So, I applied A TON of cream to shock my body into stopping the bleeding. It lessened, but only marginally. A woman at the health food store recommended that I try to source some Shepherd's Purse. It is excellent in stopping bleeding, particularly bleeding of the uterus. Unfortunately, they were out. I searched high and low (meaning I stayed home and waddled to the toilet every 45 minutes, while H toured the state's Whole Paycheck locations looking for a tincture and speaking with strange men about my excessive bleeding and blood clots. As you can imagine, I was VERY popular.) but could not find any. A desperate post was made to facebook to see if any of my birthy friends had any.
I then decided to call my acupuncturist. We've become friendly over the years and I thought just MAYBE she might have something magical to make it stop. I went to her house (because she is awesome) and she gave me a treatment and some very foul smelling pills. Again, the bleeding lessened some where I was able to get through every 1.5 hours or so, but it was still really heavy and showing no signs of stopping. I was thinking in terms of avoiding the ER, so I was pleased with that bit of progress. Still, this couldn't continue.
By Monday, July 4, my desperate pleas for Shepherd's Purse were answered. I had two friends recommend the same woman! The best part, she has an apothecary in her house and she was willing to see me on the 4th of July!
Apparently Sheperd's Purse is in the mustard family... and the tincture kind of smells mustardy, but doesn't taste like it. I don't know what it tastes like, but it doesn't taste nearly as terrible as it smells. And if you put it in a flavored water of some sort, you won't even notice it.
After two doses of Sheperd's Purse, the bleeding lessened significantly and within two days it ceased altogether. Tuesday, I went to the doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound and a whole bunch of blood work. Everything came back normal again, (woo hoo!) but with the history of strange bleeding that I've had and messy cycles, she thought it made sense to an endometrial biopsy. She wasn't overly concerned, but it was a last ditch rule out sort of thing just to be sure.
I will say this about the endometrial biopsy, it wasn't terrible. Mostly I felt a lot of pressure on my cervix as the pipelle was inserted. I just did a lot of slow, even deep rhythmic breathing (ocean breathing from yoga) and let my body be as loose and limp as possible. Basically, I gave myself the same advice I give to my birthing clients. Release all tension and just try to relax. It worked pretty well until I stopped focusing because I wasn't feeling any discomfort. I recommend just staying focused. Once the pipelle is in, there is a bit of cramping. I can't liken it to menstrual cramping, because, well, I NEVER get cramps. So, this was new a sensation for me. I could feel the movement of the pipelle as it was moved around, and I feel like maybe there cramps coincided with the pipelle touching the inside of my uterus. The whole thing was very quick, I felt momentarily light headed at the end as she was pulling it out, but other than that I was totally fine. There was a small bit of spotting (this was done 2 days after my bleeding had stopped), and maybe a fullness feeling in my uterus for an hour or so. I never required any ibuprofen or anything before or afterward. So, if you're reading this because you've googled Endometrial Biopsy, try not to worry. Some people have likened this to the insertion of an IUD, but again, I have not had that experience either. While, I'm not ready to sign up to have another biopsy anytime soon, it was relatively simple and just mildly uncomfortable. I do think that if you don't relax or you tense your belly/vagina against the pipelle that it would be much more uncomfortable, so do try to stay relaxed as possible.
It took about 2 weeks (13 long, agonizing days) for the results. Thankfully, they were negative for cancer! I was diagnosed with disordered prolific endometrial hyperplasia (simple). There are several different types of hyperplasia, this one is NOT pre-cancerous. This is caused by an imbalance of estrogen/progesterone. Basically, because of the long history that I've had with anovulatory cycles, there was no progesterone cycling through my system to "oppose" the estrogen. This causes the endometrium to continue to grow. My situation seems to be improving because last summer, my endometrial lining on ultrasound was 8.6mm, but the most recent measurement shows 6mm. If there is not enough progesterone in your system, your uterus doesn't get a signal to bleed and "clean out the shop". So, I was bleeding some because there was SOME progesterone, but not enough to really clean house. I think the vitex signaled a good bleed and I'm toying with the idea of taking it again. Though, I'm a bit afraid -- at least I have Sheperd's Purse on hand. I'm going to wait and see what happens with this cycle. I got a positive OPK, but missed my most crucial follow up test on my ovacue monitor because I was at a birth. So, I was not able to confirm if ovulation occurred. At this point, I'm waiting to bleed and then monitor the next cycle really closely. There are some vague signs (mostly zits) that indicate I may be headed in that direction. Also, weepy. So, something is going on, but who knows what. What ISN'T going on is prolonged spotting. Since the bleeding stopped there hasn't even been a peep about any more in between period bleeding, so this is good.
Next up, a trip to the Reproductive Endocrinologist. This ought to be interesting...