Dig Deeper

I'm participating in WEGO Health's National Health Blog Post Month and will be posting throughout the month on various health topics/prompts. Feel free to join in by signing up here. You can also join the conversation via #NHBPM.

Today's prompt: A post about a conversation with your doctor.
*I'm swapping today's prompt with one from Saturday.

This seems like a pretty intimate topic and I'd say that a lot of conversations people might have with their doctor are fairly personal. For the sake of #NHBPM, I thought I'd tell my story. After all, I'm not the only female athlete who has struggled with this.

A conversation I've had with my OBGYN a few times is whether or not I'm going to be able to get pregnant when the time comes. Yeah, it's still a few years away, but I want to know because when it's time to have kids, the clock is ticking (I'm turning 30 in a few months) so I'd prefer that things happened accurately as soon as possible.

A few years ago I never got my cycle back after running my third or so full marathon. I had dropped back down to about 25 miles a week and was exercising less and yet still, no period after almost a year post marathon.

Essentially, my general doc had me take a lot of blood tests to make sure all of my hormone levels were accurate and my thyroid was operating correctly. Everything came back normal. So she said I had two options: a) either exercise less and gain weight (I was about 10 lbs heavier than I am now) OR b) take birth control and force the body to have a period and make sure I was getting the necessary hormones each month.

Well, neither solution really gave me peace of mind, but I went with option b) anyway. Asking me to workout less just didn't seem like an option. Endorphins are my insta-happy.

To this day, I wish I had just switched docs right then and dug further. I mean WHY do I need to gain weight and fat when my body had plenty of it already? Just doesn't make sense to me.

When I have my annual visit to the OBGYN, it's inevitable that I ask if she thinks I'll still be able to get pregnant. In turn, she tries to reassure me not to worry about it until the time comes.

After the doctor's less than stellar recommendations, I've yet to see a general doc again. It just seems so hard to find a good one, especially when you're not in need of one at the moment. Let that be a lesson - dig deeper for the sake of your own health.

What have I learned? YOU know your body best. Don't let someone else make major decisions for you. Trust your gut. If you're not satisfied with the answer, keep asking until it makes sense. I still have no idea if I am in fact ovulating... fun stuff!

Want to read more on women's health? I have really appreciated how open bloggers such as Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point, Faith of Gracefulfitness and Courtney of Sweet Tooth Sweet Life have been about their health, including family planning, overall health, birth control, etc. The more we talk about it, the less stigma there is about discussing women's health issues.

Running front: In other news, my legs are extra sore from Sunday's 7 mile hilly trail run and Monday's 6 am 6 miler. Amazing how fast you lose the build up from those marathon miles!

I'm not a doctor and don't know a ton about OB health, but wanted to share my story. Please see your doc if you have questions or concerns. 


J said…
Thanks for sharing - I also love how HTP has shared her story. I know that both my sister in laws had trouble conceiving so it scares me a bit because who knows what your body will be like and if it will be ready. My best running buddy is actually trying to get pregnant now and she has been very open about everything to me which has been great. Its nice to just talk about it and learn more info. Also my running buddy is thinking of having a midwife. Apparently you still have a dr deliver your baby but with the midwife (Who is also a RN) there is an advocate for you and not just the dr pushing you to do something (Like a C-section). I fear being pushed to do a c-section even when it isn't needed. its just good to get more info and know your options!
Such an important topic that I would argue most of us (runners, athletes, endorphin-lovers) have dealt with at some point. My general doc said the same thing, and I went on/off the pill for years (hating actually taking it). I finally pulled the plug right before my first marathon (2010), and have been regular ever since (after 5+ yrs of not being so).

The only other major life change at the time? I was beginning to eat more healthy fats without fear, and cut out meat. I weigh the same, if not a pound or two less, now and am definitely more toned. I run further and faster, and yet it's never waivered. Diet makes a difference, and docs will often be the last person to think of that.

Thanks for sharing!
Heather @ Dietitian on the Run said…
(To clarify: "pulled the plug" meaning stopped taking the Pill completely. :) )
Great post Lauren! Thanks for sharing. I am sure many can relate. I have a very irregular cycle. I could go 14 weeks without a period so I, too, worry how that may impact my ability to conceive. I guess time will tell. For now I am on bc as it also helps my complexion. The doctor never had a great explanation for me either. They thought it may be related to my thyroid but it wasn't. I will probably worry more about it when marriage is in my future... Which is a sucky thing to worry about! I hope you are able to get pregnant when you want to!!
Anonymous said…
Really interesting post. I did a year of fertility research in medical school, mostly on age related fertility decline and fertility preservation.

It seems a lot of my friends have irregular periods (and most are 20-something overexercisers).

I've seen people be able to get pregnant training for a marathon and people who have had to decrease exercise, gain weight, and maybe use clomid. The experience is so variable.

As long as we're sharing, I've been taking the pill x 8 years and sometimes even skip a period while on it.

I think the most important thing is being proactive about your fertility.

Great post!
Tasha Malcolm said…
I really liked this post. What you wrote about is something I have been dealing with recently and trying to "dig deeper" per say. When I ran in college I had no period, but was also grossly under weight. I maxed out between 90-95 lbs. I know, YUCK. I eventually got my period back, but then have seemed to become more irregular. It kind of freaks me out, but I did see an OBGYN and she seems to think that I am okay. At least for now...
Elizabeth said…
Interesting post and you are so incredibly right--the patient is truly his or her best and sometimes only advocate. While in my public health program I read a great book (totally blanking on the title....grr) regarding this very notion. The educated patient who goes in advocating for how the individual's body operates usually gets their needs met better. I encourage all my health students to listen to their bodies and to be the best advocate they can be--especially when many doctors are unfortunately so pressed for time. I wonder what would happen if you went off the pill for a while--just as if to do a little self check-in and see where/how your cycle is? It could have been dietary....and stress also has a lot to do with it too. I don't run nearly as much as y'all do, but the main time I ever had a year of complete absence of a period was during an exchange abroad---I put on a lot of weight and I was under a different sort of stress. The fat percentage and lots of exercise definitely impacts however, but have faith it'll all work out how it should in the end!
Amber said…
I have been on birth control for 8 years straight now sooo...I don't really know how regular my cycle is to be honest!! Kids aren't in our future for AT LEAST 3-4 more years if not longer so I guess I'll find out when I stop taking the pill. I should probably be more worried about it than I am...

Thanks for sharing lady!

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