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fertility problems from the pill

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
OK, some of you remember afew months ago I posted here b/c I thought I might be pregnant and was looking for some advice, etc. Well, I just found out that since i was on the pill for 5 years, my ovaries have completely shut down, and that is why I haven't had a period in 5 months. My gyno gave me a prescription to "kick start" my ovaries, but she said that there is a chance that this won't work and that I will have trouble trying to conceive, if I am able to conceive at all . Basically, if these hormones don't work, then I may not be able to have children . I've been crying all morning since I found out.

My question is this: Has anyone else had this problem or know where I can find information about this, and has anyone here had the same problem and still been able to conceive without major intervention?

thanks in advance for the help!
post #2 of 45


That sounds really extreme... I know women need time once they get off hormones for their bodies to cycle correctly, maybe it will just be an issue of time? I have heard something like *some* ladies have trouble when they've been on the pill 10 or more years, but also that was with older versions of the pill which were stronger then what you have probably been on. Perhaps seeing a naturopath would help, sometimes nutritional therapy can help a woman cycle properly. I was on depo-provera for a year and a half (I had stopped mentstrating), and it took another 6 months before I got a period... and even then it was like I was 12 again, all irregular and worse cramps then usual. I was in school at the time so I have no idea how long it took for me to actually ovulate with my cycles.

I am so sorry I can't be of more help, and I hope I am not downplaying your situtaion and anguish at all... but I have known so many people who have taken the pill for years and I have just *never* heard of infertility being a problem, even after 5 years on the pill. I am sending you wishes of peace... and thoughts of you holding your very *intact* baby boy someday!

post #3 of 45
Sometimes when you get off the pill its takes a while to return to normal cycles. 6-12 months isn't that unusual. Do not lose hope yet...I think what your doctor told you was scarey and inappropriate at this point. Perhaps the doctor meant that it may not kick start your ovaries THIS time? Not that you will NEVER ever ovulate again. Seems a little drastic of a prognosis at this time. Your body may not be ready just yet, give it a little time.
post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick response, XM!! You've made me feel a little better!!

Once I get my prescrition back, I can post the exact name b/c I can't read the doc's handwriting!! I can explain it a little better once I can calm down and think clearly.

basically, if we can't get my ovaries to work, then I can't release eggs, and so on and so forth. The doc seemed reassuring, but I am not going to set my hopes on these pills working, and then they don't work at all....I'd rather expect them not to work so that I am not setting myself up for more heartache, KWIM?
post #5 of 45
Well...did he say directly that your ovaries have definitely shut down? Or was it...just...a thought because of the fact that you have no period?

Anyway...I stopped the pill in last August, and got pregnant in November. I never had a period the entire time. I don't know if that helps, or gives you any hope...and I never took any sort of medication to jump start anything either.
post #6 of 45
pretty much just wanted to ditto what has already been said. i had been on teh pill close to 15 years, my sister close to 10, and both of us conceived within a year of being off (she was actually only a couple of months later), but i don't think i'd necessarily conclude that your ovaries aren't going to start moving again just because they haven't yet. SO many women these days are on the pill from their late teens to when they decide to have babies, which for many of us is early 30s, and i've never heard of some huge epidemic of infertility resulting, so i too don't mean to downplay what must be VERY hard for you, just want to reassure you not to give up! wishing you egg-releasing vibes! good luck
post #7 of 45

Book Recommendation

Here's a book my naturopath recommended. It is written by two women in Australia who run a fertility clinic and they use a natural approach to rebuilding fertility for both parents. They have a better rate of success than medicalized fertility experts.

Healthy Parents, Better Babies by Francesca Naish and Janette Roberts

Here is her review, it's the 2nd one on the page: http://www.naturopathyonline.com/new...etter07_02.htm

Link to the book @ Powells http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/bibli...2-0895949555-0

Some of their advice was deemed "too extreme" by a mainstream friend of mine who's ttc, and she's getting in-utero injections, and I thought, if all you have to do is modify your diet and life style, that'd be the first place I'd go, and it's way cheaper than semen injections, not to mention less invasive.

I'm sure you just need some time to heal.
post #8 of 45
Morgan'sMama has a good point.... is your doc *sure* that you are not ovulating, or is it assumed so because you have yet to have a period? As I recall, one of the ways the pill works is to limit the buildup of the endometrium (the other being to supress ovulation)... which may be why it's taking you a bit to get your periods back.

I don't want to be telling you what to do, but if it were *me*, I would almost hold off on taking those 'jump-start' hormones until you maybe get a second opinion... it seems to me your body just needs more time, and more hormones just seem like it would confuse things more... seems like something to try once you *know* there is a problem and exactly what the problem is. Putting off those hormones for a month or two would'nt hurt anything, I would think.

But you need to do what feels right for *you*

post #9 of 45
Firstly, I cannot imagine how awful it must have been for you to hear that news. BUT I also agree with other posters that I think your gyno may have jumped the gun telling you such drastic news so early in this process. I would do a couple of things if it were me - try to stay calm and ignore the "worst case scenario" info you were given, and get a second opinion!!!! Everyone's bodies are different and not everyone reacts the same way to the pill. I was on it for 10 years (mid 80s to mid 90s), used condoms for six months while my body was readjusting/cleaning out from the pill then conceived easily three times over seven years. I have not heard of any other cases like yours. I don't know how old you are or what kind of a timeline you are on for growing your family but I agree with XM that I would try to give your body a chance to right itself without intervention first. If eating well, getting plenty of sleep, positive attitude, etc. does not help within a 3 to 6 month period then it would seem reasonable to go with other options to jump start your system. But fertility is a very personal thing and if you want to go right to the prescription you were given, I assume you will find nothing but support here.
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 
She has me on Prometrium, 200mg once daily for 5 days. I already took 1 at her office and 1 before I had a chance to read your responses...

I've been thinking about it, and to give you some background on the whole thing....

I was kinda letting my body "do it's own thing" and someone gave me an article on PCOS, (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) and all the symptoms sounded like me...: Well, while I was researching PCOS, I hurt my back and couldn't stand the pain anymore...I went to the ER and of course they took blood to check my pg status and hormone levels since I hadn't had my period in 5 months. The ER doc wanted me to follow up with my OBGYN since my hormone levels were "in the low to normal range." I don't speak doctor-ese....anyway, I also had a mild UTI that wasn't causing me any trouble, but the ER dr. gave me antibiotics for that. I didn't even know I had one...:

My OBGYN's office is right across the street from the hospital i went to. I assume she got my records pulled up from the ER since she didn't run any blood tests or anything on me. I had a regular pap and pelvic exam, and I asked her to check for PCOS, (which can be checked when they "give you the finger"), and she said my ovaries felt a little swollen, but not abnormally so. I am a big girl, I have been big my whole life, and of course she said I was at risk for PCOS in the future, but I don't have it now.

I hope that can clear things up a bit. Now that I have already started the hormones, I guess I will just stick with them, YKWIM? I will finish this week and then no more. I was pretty scared and sad earlier, but I think I am alot calmer now.

Thanks for the input!! You have all made me feel much better and alot less frightened. Thank you!

's to all!!
post #11 of 45
I hope the Prometrium does the trick for you... this is a scary thing. When I went off the pill after being on it for six months or so (the second time I was on it, the first was for a year two years prior), my periods didn't go back to normal for almost a year. I was still getting them, but there could be 7 weeks or more between. This coupled with the fact that we were trying to conceive was very tough on me, and consequently drove DH nuts. My body did eventually get back to normal, no idea how long it took, but it was almost 3 years between when I went off the pill and when we conceived.

I was worried about PCOS, too, since I'm fairly heavy. The only symptoms I had that correlated were my weight and acne. They did a pelvic ultrasound as part of the infertility testing we started and everything was normal. So maybe if you're not convinced you don't have it, you could ask for an u/s for diagnostic purposes.

post #12 of 45
Before you jump to any conclusions I would check out how your overies are working. Start charting your basal temp and see whats up. www.ccli.org can be a great resource for finding out and understanding how to tell if you are ovulating by temps. If your Dr. sisn't do any sort of ovulation testing then he has no way of knowing wether or not you are ovulating and why.

And try not to be discouraged. While being on the pill can harm your fertility, 5 months is nothing. You need to give yourself a full year (at least) to get back into the swing of things. In the mean time take care of yourself, eat well, excersize, drink lots of water, yada yada yada. You know all that stuff. Also try not to stress out about it. .let your body heal and give your hormones time to find a new balance.
post #13 of 45
I would also like to give you a "pep talk" - I went on the pill when I was 15 to "regulate my periods" and was on it until I was like 28. So that is close to 15 years. I cringe to think how many hormones have been in my body. I had to keep going on stronger and stronger doses because my body was so screwed up I wouldn't even get a period. Anyway, I was off the pills for maybe - 8 months ?? and I was on a regular 28 day cycle. I am pregnant with #2 right now (which happened probably a year after going off, on the first try) and after nursign my 1st for 2 years, my period came back at 14 months post-partum and I was again on an exact, 28 day cycle, down to time of day (and it was a full moon cycle too, meaning the first day of the full moon was when I got it - how weird is that) anyway, got preggo on the first try with #1 as well.

So that is to lift your spirits. I would go with a natural approach too if you could. Trust your body, give it time. Also, learning about your body and fertility through something like Natural Family Planning where you chart and really learn your body's signals may be a great thing for you.

post #14 of 45
I just want to second MysticHealerMom's recommendation for the Better babies book. They talk in it about nutritional supplements & advice for women coming off the pill. It also deals with PCOS

Like XM, I know bulk women who've been on the pill for years. We're talking 15 or so years at least who almost all sucessfully got pregnant. The ones who didn't had other issues, not ovarian shutdown :

My best advice to you & NOTE I am not telling you what to do, only what I did & it totally saved my sanity.

See if you can find a sympathetic low tech female doctor to send you for blood work to see if you are ovulating & how your hormone levels are. Get her then to explain the results to you. Ask as many questions as you can until you are satisfied with the answers. If they suspect PCOS, normally they send you for a scan & blood tests to diagnose it. Also go to a std clinic & get yourself swabbed & tested for every bacterial infection there is. Get them to swab inside your cervix as well. I'm not saying you have a STD, but we can & do get simple bacterial infections that effect our fertility. These are not necessarily sexually transmitted either. Basically use the medical profession to find out what is wrong without trying to treat you & get you on more hormones to further confuse your body.

While you're doing all this, find yourself a good female acupuncturist & herbalist who works with fertility. Implement & lifestyle changes etc. That way, at least you are doing something positive about it all & that went a long way to keeping me sane on my 5 year ttc journey.

Best of luck!
post #15 of 45

I just wanted to add to the chorus of reassurance. I was on the pill for 15 years or so, and got pregnant very quickly after stopping, without my periods coming back 1st. So I definitely ovulated even without periods.

I second the call for a second opinion; maybe you could get a referral to see a reproductive endocrinologist ? Not all ob/gyns are created equal, and way too many are not up to date on the latest science.

Hang in there!
post #16 of 45
Lilyka said, "While being on the pill can harm your fertility...", and I just had to speak up about that... some chicks think that the pill is all the 'protection' they need, and don't use condoms when they should... the only 2 people I have known who have had fertility problems are two ladies who had extensive scarring from PID they developed after recurrent STD's. So I guess the pill *can* cause problems if being on it makes you think you have all the protection you need and don't use condoms when you should. I would also like to add that both of these ladies were eventually able to have the children they wanted... I don't think it has anything to do with the pill but some people would rather say that then admit that they were not careful in their behaviors, and that there were some consequences to that. Did that just make sense? I have just never heard of a lady having *permanent* infertility form the pill alone, usually an STD is involved...

But I definitely agree with Lilyka that charting your temps would be helpful. A doc who is familiar with this can tell a lot about your reproductive health from well-kept charts. And once you have your babe, you will probably be rather interested in NFP as birth control.

Also, I agree with OM that you should have a thorough checkup... sometimes we do get low-grade infections that are'nt caught unless you are actually looking for them (like the UTI they found). We have all sorts of flora and fauna in our bodies and sometimes they get out of balance, it could be something this simple for you as well, so it would be a good thing to rule out.

If you have started the hormones, you are probably right to keep taking them (otherwise your poor bod will get *real* confused! ), I know nothing about meds but this sounds like something that will help your endometrium (Prometrium?) build itself for a period... I had thought she was giving you clomid or something that would make you ovulate 50 times before breakfast! I think it would be perfectly reasonable to ask your doc exactly how this hormone works in your body so you know what to expect... in the meantime, definitely look into nutritional therapies and temp charting, and any other therapy that you feel may help.

This just sucks cuz you went in for your back and you walk out not sure if you can have babies... talk about being blindsided!!! I also wanted to share that I am a big girl too and it has never affected my cycle... but coming off hormonal birth control *definitely* affected my cycle!! (((hugs))) I am sorry you are having this scary thing thrust upon you. And I am sorry that I just wrote another novel : XM
post #17 of 45
Totally OT, but Xiola'sMomma, you mention in your post lots of flora and fauna running about - here I am thinking that at 7 months preggo, all that movement is baby, when in fact, it is FAUNA !!! (It sure as heck feels more like hoofs and antlers then a round little munch) ROFLMAO

Having a bad day, and that struck me as so cute and funny had to comment
post #18 of 45
Christy how scary to be told what you were told. I was on the pill for about 13 years myself due to irregular periods initially. When I decided to stop taking the pill to TTC I was diagnosed with PCOS through bloodwork (later confirmed through an u/s). I have been able to concieve twice after some diet and excercise changes and without taking clomid. Please don't give up hope and consider getting a second opinion.

Good luck.

Edited to add: I have not taken Prometrium but from other women I believe it is a hormone that helps you have a period but is not intended to make you ovulate. Of course after having a cycle you could ovulate the next one.
post #19 of 45
I'll spare you my soapbox lecture on the conflict of interest involved in doctors prescribing artificial hormones to keep you from getting pregnant (which they know can screw up your natural hormones) and then years later making even more money by prescribing hormones to GET you pregnant when you wouldn't have had any problem in the first place if they would teach you to read your own body's fertility signs. Okay, maybe I won't spare you.

First things first: if you aren't having periods and you aren't pregnant, you aren't ovulating. Period. For the body to have a period, it has to ovulate first. It is possible to ovulate, get pregnant and then not have a period. But is is NOT possible to ovulate, not have a period and ovulate again. It is also not possible to have more than 18 days between ovulation and menses *unless* you are pregnant. So your doctor is right there.

Second, I can see from your siggy that you are a very educated person and you feel strongly about some things. Now is the time to learn everything you can about your body and feel very strongly about what you will put in it and what you won't. Artificial hormones are not all they're cracked up to be, as you're finding out right now. Read up on the treatments your Dr. is suggesting and decide for yourself if you want to put more artifical hormones into your body. There are quite a few herbs out there that can induce periods just as well as prometrium (artificial progesterone) can.

Third, RUN, DON'T WALK (better yet, drive ) to your nearest bookstore and find a book entitled _Taking Charge of Your Fertility_ by Toni Welscher. This excellent book will be your greatest ally in both learning how your body works sans artificial hormones *and* getting yourself pregnant.
post #20 of 45
Okay, reading back over the posts more thoroughly, I am in AWE of the misinformation here.

First of all, there are MANY cases of the pill causing infertility. I know women who had one shot of DEPO on have never Oed since (in a 7 year time frame) w/o artificial induction. If you haven't heard of artificial hormones causing infertility, then you haven't been hanging around the TTC boards on the web. It's out there, ladies, and it's a scary thing. I'm so glad everyone on this thread (except for me and Christy, it would seem) seems to have escaped unscathed.

And Christy, if your GYN thinks she can diagnose PCOS by feeling the size of your ovaries during a bi-manual exam, then you need a new doctor. PCOS is a *syndrome* meaning it consists of MANY symptoms. The cysts on the ovaries are small and multiple (thus the term poly-cystic) and don't change the feel of the ovaries much at all. The hormone levels they drew at the ER probably don't mean anything. To diagnose PCOS, they must check your FSH and LH ratio on day 3 of your cycle (which is difficult since one of the major symptoms of PCOS is not having cycles..ahhhh the irony). If the ratio is different than 1:1, you are a likely candidate for PCOS and should have a pelvic u/s to check your ovaries and a complete blook workup to test for insulin resistance (the reason women with PCOS are so often overweight). Many women get off of the pill in their mid twenties only to find out they don't ovulate and have PCOS, so this is entirely likely. Other symptoms of PCOS include excess hair growth (due to excess testosterone in the system), excess weight, irregular periods, and a constant craving for carbs (related to the insulin resistance). Another thing that your doctor said that makes me want to wave a big red flag is that your weight puts you at risk for PCOS. Fact is being overweight doesn't cause PCOS, PCOS causes you to be overweight!! I hate when doctors aren't educated about their own field and yet expect you to trust them implicitly b/c of the M.D. behind their name.

There's a lot of information out there on herbal jump-starts to get your body cycling again on its own, as well as some herbal remedies for PCOS. PM me if I haven't totally ticked you off (!) and you'd like a couple of points in the right direction and some links. I don't have PCOS, but have other fertility problems (as indicated in my siggy) and have spent much of my adult life trying to figure out how to overcome the problems caused by 6 whole months on the pill. My DH is military and if you can't pop out babies w/o medical help, you're SOL in this world, so I've done a lot of the finding and such on my own.
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