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It Doesn’t Always Take a Crystal Ball: My Explainable Miscarriages

ePatient Power: No Crystal Ball Required  Image Source: Dreamstime

ePatient Power: No Crystal Ball Required Image Source: Dreamstime

When I miscarried my first two pregnancies I was told that most early trimester miscarriages are “unexplained”.   It never sat well with me in the first place and when I really became a citizen-researcher eventually my beliefs were validated.

My miscarriages would have been explained if my doctors had bothered to spend even a moment to go over my health history and symptoms.  In fact, if my health history had been taken into account it wouldn’t have taken a crystal ball to figure out that I was going to miscarry in the first place!  My medical history pointed to:

  • some serious estrogen dominance symptoms
  • hypothyroid symptoms
  • trouble conceiving

Here were the glaring red flags:

Does it seem obvious to you?   It sure sends some red flags up for me. If I had been an engaged patient before I started trying to conceive there is no doubt in my mind that I would have had a different outcome.  Of course how would I truly know since neither my thyroid nor my estradiol/progesterone levels were tested at the time.  (Progesterone suppositories worked and I have three kids as “evidence”!  As well, later hormone tests revealed I had almost no progesterone but really tests should have been done at the time. That being said I had all the signs of progesterone deficiency/estrogen dominance and they weren’t picked up on.)

The perfect example of why being an engaged patient is crucial to your health:

To my doctors those miscarriages were “spontaneous abortions” (the medical term for miscarriage that feels like a punch in the stomach when you spot it written on your chart).

To me, those were my beautiful little babies that I never got to meet or hold or nurse or cherish or snuggle or laugh with or hear them call me Mama.

It’s not that my doctors didn’t care – they just didn’t care as much as I did.

No one will care about your health as much as you do.

Read my article My Baby Taught Me My ABCs about how I advocated for myself and had my beautiful baby girl.

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  1. Courtney Rundell

    I had 2 miscarriages as well & now it makes sense, huh? Interesting that the super expensive fertility clinic I went to ruled “low
    Progesterone” as the likely cause but never demanded I have a full thyroid panel done knowing full well I had hashimoto’s. good thing I’m too grateful to be resentful 🙂

    1. Sonya

      I know what you mean about being grateful rather than resentful. But at the same time it hurts my heart to watch women 15 years later going through the same thing I went through all those years ago! Things haven’t changed.

      Funny how things start to make sense so much later! Glad you’re on the right path now my dear…many hugs

  2. Nicole

    I’ve been TTC for 6 years, my fertility Dr couldn’t find anything wrong with me and pushed IVF! I have hypothyroid, hashimotos and estrogen dominance. I never went thru with IVF, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t considering my health issues. It’s unfortunate that fertility specialists don’t pay attention to everything and anything that could be wrong with you!

    1. Sonya

      Hi Nicole,

      Your story rings a bell, as I’ve heard similar stories about women being pushed into IVF. It’s one of the reasons I truly believe in Functional Medicine (the whole you is taken into account – not just your disease or diagnosis!). Specialists focus on their area of expertise and that seems to bring a risk of tunnel vision. My heart goes out to you as TTC for 6 years the IVF must have been hard to turn down. I recall how desperately I wanted to hold a baby in my arms.

      Send me an email if you like – I’d love to have a personal conversation with you.

  3. Robin

    I have had three miscarriages between 8 and 9 weeks (including twins I lost in Feb 2012). I heard the same ” many women with multiple miscarriages go on to have a healthy baby” from my OBGYN three times before I was mad enough to decide this was unacceptable and became committed to finding out why. Started seeing an Osteopath last April. Diagnosed with Estrogen Dominance, Adrenal insufficiency, Leaky Gut, Candida and Hypothyroid. Working on healing myself which has been a slow process. I have no idea how long it may take, if ever… And I am 35 years old. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I feel.

    Robin

    http://Www.toputitsimply.wordpress.com

    1. Sonya

      Hi Robin, Your story saddens me on a number of levels. Most of all I am deeply sorry to hear about your lost babies. I am really glad that you are on your way to healing and I wish you the very best. But I know you are probably feeling that same sense of deep desperation that I recall so well.

      Your story also saddens me on another level – I went through similar struggles 15 years ago and clearly in a decade and a half nothing has changed in our healthcare system! It is why I now know that we have to be in charge of our own health, as I see you’ve done the same thing I did and taken the reins.

      I don’t know if you’ve looked into Progesterone for maintaining pregnancy but it is how I went on to have three babies. Once pregnant I took progesterone for about 13 – 16 weeks (I can’t remember exactly and I had three different OB/GYNs so it was slightly different with each one.) I used Prometrium (a natural progesterone) in the form of Vaginal suppositories. Many enlightened doctors are using progesterone – the trick is to find one or demand it on your own which is what I had to do. Where I lived we only had two OB/GYNs to choose from so I had no real choice but to stand up for myself – there was no chance of “shopping” for a different doctor.

      I invited you to stay tuned as well because I have an upcoming blog post about the first large randomized controlled study being done in the UK specifically on women who have had recurrent miscarriages. Even though many enlightened medical doctors are using progesterone to prevent miscarriages there is really only anecdotal evidence like mine and no large scientific studies to point to. Without a large controlled research study many doctors are reluctant to put their necks out and prescribe progesterone.

      I see that you also mention hypothyroidism – being estrogen dominant I’m sure contributes to my thyroid problem. Even though estrogen and thyroid hormone are synergistic they compete for the same receptors which compounds the problems.

      Also check out http://www.Hypothyroidmom.com – Dana blogs about losing her baby because her hypothryoidism wasn’t taken into account while she was pregnant. She has great information to share specifically about miscarriages related to hypothyroidism.

      I’m sending you big healing hugs!

  4. Baby Hopeful

    Hi Sonya, I’ve had 2 miscarriages too & (after being ignored for 18 months) have just been put on thyroid meds & progesterone by my new Doc. My tsh has only been slightly high (ranging between 3.2 & 4.7) but he suspected it might be linked. Also my progesterone has always been normal on day 21 but he said levels could drop off too quickly as I get several days of spotting every month before AF. Just wondered what you thought? Not found many people to ask / talk to about this. xx

    1. Sonya

      Hi Hun, I’m so deeply sorry for the loss of your two babies. You know I lost two as well so I feel your heartache deeply. From the sounds of it your new doctor seems to be getting you onto a better track! In 2002 the AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists changed their TSH range to .3 – 3.04 so your TSH levels are high. Also you may know that some doctors consider a TSH over 2.0 subclinical hypothyroidism. I’ve also been told by a well-respected endocrinologist that ranges are only so useful – how well one person feels at a certain level can be completely different for how well another person feels at that same level! And you probably also know that TSH isn’t the only test that should be done – there are lots of factors other than just Thyroid Stimulating Hormone that can affect your thyroid functioning.

      I can tell from your blog that you know how to advocate for yourself! Hooray for you! Just something to keep in mind for your next pregnancy – The Endocrine Society in USA changed their guidelines in pregnancy http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/97/8/2543.abstract has lots of info for you if you haven’t seen it already.

      The thing about hormone levels is that they fluctuate so much it can be a challenge to really know what’s going on. A great doctor will be very interested in hearing about your symptoms which paint a better picture. Just a tip – if you’re not already keeping track of your cycles and symptoms now is a good time to start. Track when you’re spotting and how you feel throughout your cycle and be sure to let your doctor know on your next visit. I was having mid-cycle spotting and it was related to my fluctuating hormones but it’s better now – I feel like I’m balanced again.

      It really sounds like you found a doctor that is looking at root causes and hopefully he monitors you closely! Keep me posted. Drop me a line at sonya@hormonesoup.com anytime.

      Hugs,

      Sonya

    2. Sonya

      OH babyhopeful I forgot I was going to send you this fantastic link to a really great article about hypothyroidism, testing, adrenal functioning and even progesterone: http://www.womentowomen.com/hypothyroidism/testing.aspx

      Also speaking of your progesterone level – do you know if your estrogen was in the normal or high range?

      Hugs,

      S.

  5. Baby Hopeful

    Hi Sonya. Thanks for your lovely long reply and so much info 🙂 My estrogen was normal too but didn’t test around time of spotting which is why he suspected the progesterone drops off too fast. I’ll have a read of the links later. Just wanted to say a big thanks really. xxx

    1. Sonya

      Oh gosh – no problem at all. I can’t give medical advice but I can point you to resources and share my personal experiences! I think I also forgot to mention -women with postive TPOAb have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm labor and having babies with impaired cognitive functioning. You shared your TSH levels but do you know if your doctor has tested your thyroid anti-bodies: Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)&
      Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb). xx

      1. Baby Hopeful

        Yes – I got them all tested and the rest were normal too. Have no symptoms either (apart from the mcs and long times to conceive). But he thinks the meds will help get within optimum levels and so could help. Obviously no guarantee, but worth a try as our next option is IVF. xx

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