My friend and fellow Creighton Model Practitioner, Tammy Oropeza, has such an inspiring story. When she shared her journey charting her fertility from maternity through menopause with me, I was so encouraged that I knew I had to share it with you.
Here is Tammy's Journey:
I didn’t marry my husband until I was 38. We spent the first year of our marriage building our home and getting settled in Ft. Worth. At one year, almost exactly, I was pregnant with our daughter.
Nicole was born November 11, 2000. I suffered gestational diabetes but was diligent about keeping it under control. I used 3 insulin injections a day. Nicole weighed in under 7 pounds. A surprise to me and our doctor.
I became Catholic in August 2001. We felt we had grave and serious reasons to avoid another pregnancy and so began charting my fertility.
Six months of charting revealed continuous mucus and an unstable menstrual cycle. This resulted in full abstinence for that period.
This was a very unhappy time for us. Unable to determine my true time of fertility was frustrating. We even went so far as to consult with our priest in hopes of receiving a dispensation – I wanted a tubal ligation. Surely it would be okay since I was now over 41.
I was told to investigate further and try to find the cause of my charting issues.
During this time my Educator offered to review my chart and made some interesting observations. My fertility chart revealed some potential for health issues. I immediately sought out medical advice and counsel.
A satellite class was being offered in the DFW area and I was determined to become a Creighton Model FertilityCare™ Practitioner. I wanted to know more and share that knowledge.
In November of 2002, I embarked on the world of the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System and NaProTechnology, not only for myself but to share with those I knew and loved. I entered the training to become a FertilityCare™ Pracittioner.
In December 2002, I sought help from a NaProTechnology doctor who revealed the lovely string of pearls within my ovaries and the diagnosis of PCOS was made.
A common occurrence with PCOS is underlying diabetes. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and I began metformin along with progesterone which has been shown to work with ovarian function and often times will resolve PCOS issues.
During this time, progesterone was being used in the post-ovulatory phase only.
My cycles did respond to the 2 medications and my continuous mucus problem was no longer an issue. I was able to get my blood glucose levels under control and stabilized. I also passed my FertilityCare™ Practitioner exam and began my official center – the FertilityCare™ Center of North Texas along with my partner, Mandy Cox.
We charted for the next 8 years without incident. Then I noticed my charting patterns changing. I started getting hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, and irregular menses – among other things.
As time progressed I began to notice all the signs of pre-menopause, but something else was going on. Menses was so painful I would have to medicate and spend at least one and sometimes two days in bed. After several sessions with my doctor and priest, it was decided that a hysterectomy was medically necessary.
Due to a family history of ovarian cancer, I received a full hysterectomy (although they did leave my cervix to prevent my bladder from shifting later on). At the time I thought this was an answer to my prayers. After all, I was pain free and – gee - I don’t have to chart anymore.
You might think this to be liberating and exciting. It most definitely was not!
Within 2 months post-op, various problems presented themselves due to lack of ovaries and being put into immediate menopause. PMS pain was replaced with no libido, painful intercourse, more hot flashes, night sweats and massive mood swings. I was miserable and so was everyone around me.
After consulting with a NaPro doctor, the use of estrogen and progesterone began. I was also offered testosterone, but passed because of some of the “unappealing” side effects that often accompany the use of this hormone.
I was a little concerned – after all, I heard all the stories about HRT and heart disease, cancer and the like. Was I trading one problem for another?
However, it was explained to me that using synthetic estrogens alone – with no progesterone to counter – was the biggest issue with HRT. The key was to use bio-identical hormones and to use them together. My doctor assured me that our approach was safe, natural, and virtually side effect free.
Funny as I look back now. My daughter refers to my progesterone as my happy pill. This appeared to be a miracle in my household. My libido was back to normal, intercourse was no longer painful, and mentally I was back to being the happy person most people know.
It was recommended that therapy stop after 5 years of use – should have been 2014. However, due to the young age I started menopause, this has been extended and I currently take a half dose of estrogen but still use the full dose of progesterone.
As I continue through this journey and consultation with my doctor, I know that the use of my wonderful hormones is not endless. The body was intended to slow down and taper off.
Starting this year, 2016, my estrogen has been reduced by half. I still take the same amount of progesterone. The estrogen will eventually be reduced to nothing; however, I will be permitted to remain on progesterone for as long as I feel it is useful.
For me, the progesterone is offering the mental anxiety relief I struggled with for decades. My doctor’s only real concern is the over use of estrogen once I approach age 60 or more.
All the signs of poor functioning ovaries, depression, anxiety, discharge – I never would have known about them if I hadn’t been observing and charting – and ultimately working with doctors who knew and understood what I was doing and how to treat my symptoms.
The average ob/gyn would have put me on the pill for an unlimited amount of time and my condition would have worsened and my depression would have escalated.
Tammy Oropeza is a Creighton Model FertilityCare™ Practitioner and co-director of FertilityCare™ Center of North Texas. She has been a Practitioner for 12 years and resides with her husband and daugher in Ft. Worth, Texas. You can learn more about her story and meet her in person at the upcoming Women's Health Conference in Keller, TX on April 30: Restoring the Dignity of Womanhood.