Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DHEA - I beg your pardon?

'DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone – is a hormonal supplement and can be taken as part of your infertility treatment. In many clinical studies DHEA has been proven to benefit women who have poor ovarian reserve or premature ovarian ageing and as such DHEA supplementation has been recommended to women who are suitable.'

During my visit to Johannesburg for surgery last April my consultant discussed the options left available for Chris and I based on my fast falling fertility rate and history;

a) donor eggs
b) surrogacy

I explained that neither blew me away - that I was becoming too tired and too old to go down the route of donor eggs and surrogacy - and it was at that moment he saw in my hangdog eyes that I was sitting at a table in the Last Chance Saloon. 

But, there was one other thing I could try which came in tablet form. DHEA. 

My miscarriage earlier that year was based, in his opinion, on the poor quality of my crumbly eggs.  DHEA is known to improve the quality of a women's eggs, as well as increase her pregnancy chances.  I took the 6 month prescription and picked up the large pots of tablets on my way out.

We had discussed the side affects; headaches, spots and facial hair, but I was also told that many women chose to take the drug as a simple hormone to enhance their appearance, making them look younger (like some kind of wonder drug).  In this instance apparently it could be taken for years without risk.

I took it for 5 months but due to the early headaches I reduced the amount of tablet intake from three a day to two.  Thankfully my skin remained spot free, as did my hairless chin, but frustratingly I did not do a female version of Benjamin Button and bounce around all young and chirpy. Ageless I was not.

I visited Johannesburg for the last time in September to get confirmation that my new abnormal periods and cycle were my new normal.  It was during this appointment that a final ultrasound confirmed my follicle count had improved since April, indicating that things were looking good and most likely because of the DHEA.

Strangely that last visit to South Africa only encouraged me to get back home, stop taking the tablets and get on with my life.  And that's exactly what I did.  It just goes to show that my body was healthier than I thought.  My new abnormal didn't disrupt my cycle, my last remaining eggs were of better quality and with a head free of tough decisions my mind calmed down.  I conceived in November.

Do I think the DHEA helped?  I've been thinking about this a lot.  Once I discovered that I was pregnant then yes, I do, but it goes without saying that had I not fallen pregnant, then no.  I just took the tablets when I remembered, exactly like a student living on a diet of beer and crisps would take her vitamin pills, and that was it.

Ultimately it was recommended to me because of my history, my low fertility rate, my age and poor egg quality.  My consultant had achieved success with other patients on DHEA who had a similar history to mine so he knew there could be a chance, but by no means was it a guarantee.  More like a crazy spontaneous conception that is still seeing me reeling.

And reeling and reeling.....


anymommy said...

Sending you so much love and joy from over here! I heard through the mother grapevine that you have a house in the UK for the time being? Hope it is cozy and happy for you!

Ggirl said...

Got a flat sorted from April (it currently looks like student accommodation so it's being painted)! Yeah, and those parents of ours are catching up next month in San Fran baby..... That'll be us in another 30 years! Xx