Fertility Supplements and Wacky Hormones: If They Can Heal They Can Harm

By on October 11, 2016

Fix-me-quick-and-please-don’t-make-me- think

If your fertility supplements are strong enough to heal, they’re strong enough to harm. And many of us on this awesome trail of baby making have learned, that more  isn’t always better.

There is a wonderful P.S. to this story: Tracy gave birth to a little boy, conceived the old-fashioned way. And she shared that story here. .

There is a wonderful P.S. to this story: Tracy gave birth to a little boy, conceived the old-fashioned way. And she shared that story here. .

This blog post tells the story of the uncanny power of the Orphans to blind us at every step of our fertility journey.  When our choices–be they related to fertility supplements, fertility treatments, choice of practitioners,  or anything else in our lives—are guided by the fragile, fix-me-quick-and-please-don’t-make-me- think voices within us, our bodies rebel and scream for mommy until they’re heard. I originally wrote this blog  several years ago, but after hearing more and more similar stories I thought it would be a good idea to revisit this post.

Progress at last?

Tracy,  a Fertile Heart mom who was journeying to conceive her second child– after an aha moment during one of our Fertility Support Teleconferences–asked for a private check-in session.

Initially, Tracy  wanted to do some additional work on some of the emotional roadblocks that became apparent with her latest revelations. But, the sessions usually unfold in their own way and it turned out that we spent much of the call addressing unexpectedly wacky hormones.

At the beginning of the consult she spoke about her confusion:

“In March, blood work revealed that my FSH was 21.  I was advised by my fertility specialist that I would need to act fast in order to conceive a second child as menopause was imminent.   This specialist felt that our best chance of conceiving would be to try fertility drug-assisted IUI for 6 months.

If we weren’t pregnant after six months we should consider using a donor egg or adopt.  At that time I thought that I had two choices:  follow the advice of the fertility specialist, or seek the advice of a Naturopath.  I felt that a Naturopath would be a kinder and gentler way to approach my issue, so I decided to make an appointment.

My first visit with Dr. J went smoothly, She asked me questions about my menstrual cycles and then said she wanted to do more testing called Electro-Dermal Screening to see exactly what was going on with my body.  She said it was new technology that is commonly used in Australia.   I sat down and held a metal rod with one hand while a technician pressed a smaller rod into different areas of my feet and hands.  The results revealed many red areas or organs that were “stressed”.  I was then tested to see which herbs or vitamins would fix the organ system in question, by simply placing a bottle on the silver tray.  I was amazed by how simple and efficient the whole process was.  I left with a handful of pills, powders and tinctures that were tailored to my body and went happily on my way grateful for technology.  I went back three more times to Dr. J and had repeat EDS testing done with every visit.  Each time the test revealed more and more green results or “balanced” body systems.  I was thrilled.

Progress at last.

But  why the wacky hormones?

However, despite everything that the testing showed, my menstrual cycles seemed to be getting worse.  I was ovulating very late (day 20-22, and producing minimal cervical mucus) and my cycles were becoming very long (averaging 32-35 days). Even though I had all of these beautifully colored charts showing that my organ systems were “balanced” with all of the herbs I was taking, my cycles weren’t reflecting positive changes.  I had my FSH retested in October (2 months after seeing the Naturopath) fully expecting an improvement or a number similar to my previous result. To my surprise, my follicle stimulating hormone had soared to 46.  I was surprised and suspicious, but was assured by Dr. J. that the products I had been taking did not cause my FSH to increase.”

I asked T. to tell me what exactly did the naturopath’s remedies contain. She didn’t know but when we checked one of the products called “Hormone Combinations,” it read: FSH, Testosterone, and a whole slew of other hormones.

The “untrustworthy patient?”

Serendipitously, just before Tracy’s  consultation, on my Friday afternoon break, I was re-reading for the millionth time the following paragraph from Neil Postman’s book, Technopoly, in which he speaks of the effects of the Stethoscope, the first instrument of medical technology:

“…two of the key ideas promoted by the stethoscope: Medicine is about disease, not the patient. And what the patient knows is untrustworthy; what the machine knows is reliable.”

T’s story is not unique. I hear similar scenarios quite often.  Thousands of dollars spent on fertility enzymes like wobenzym, herbs labeled fertility this n’ that,.herbs that you can get for fraction of the cost in your health food store, or from other trustworthy sources. Fertility herbs when taken carefully can indeed do much good, but when dispensed without rhyme or reason they can cause havoc that can take months to repair.

I have  recently interviewed a couple of  integrative practitioners for fresh off the press article on DHEA Benefits and Side Effects)  and hormones in general and was reassured to hear that they were very much in line with what I’ve found to be a sensible approach to assessing the use of such fertility supplements.

Doing our own thinking

I suppose the lesson from all this is as always: no matter how highly esteemed or how useful the said fertility expert is reputed to be, you might want to know exactly what he/she is prescribing and why. Not because you don’t trust them, but because they are human beings and like all of us humanoids they’re  not omniscient.   Which is why I will also pay close attention what my Holy Human Loaf- my ultimate fertility authority has to say about the prescribed remedies. I want to be able to distinguish between possible sings of detox with a new fertility supplement regimen and side effects that are causing wacky-hormone-response.

Overall, I have found that the safest, most reliable fertility supplements are the ones that provide high quality, highly absorbable essential nutrients without specific hormonal properties. (For more detailed discussion on this topic, see my three part article on Fertility Supplements with brand recommendations.)

Thank you, T. for asking me to share your story and inspiring this post! Have any of you had similar experiences we could all learn from?




20 Responses to “Fertility Supplements and Wacky Hormones: If They Can Heal They Can Harm”

  1. tn241 says:

    I appreciate hearing this story. And remember Julia’s lovely presentation at a workshop in Woodstock about- this person says to eat more meat…this says to eat less meat…this says to stand on your head more. Etc. etc..

    I too went to a naturopath- and though I have nothing against them in general, I would never go back to that one. After conceiving easily two times in 6 months (trying for our second child), both ending in miscarriages- the last one Dec. 31, 2012. After that 2nd miscarriage, I felt so determined to find the “problem” and fix it. This is when the Orphan- “There must be something wrong with me” really kicked in.

    For the first year after the second miscarriage, I went to two different acupuncturists- and tried multiple herbs, went to the naturopath who put me on many different supplements AND mis-diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. I went to other practioners as well- uterine massage, psychics, astologers and more. I followed up on everyone’s advice. Bought crystals, tinctures, yam cream, took my new prescription medicine. But starting the month after my 2nd miscarriage, my cycles became irregular. Ovulation kits were brutal, showing ovulation likely to occur- and then a period never coming until day 42, 43- or worse- a day after the ovulation kit said I was surging.

    Somewhere in all of this I went to a Rep Endocrinologist. He tested for everything possible. And he found- nothing. Said, the irregular periods were likely due to age. I decided to try Chlomid- and did so for 3 months. And never ovulated on it.

    I can’t remember the moment that I “unplugged” from the rat race. The moment I really got that I am my best healer in all of this. I am my best advisor. But I did, I stopped it all. Even my acupuncturist. In the past 4 months or so, I’ve become my best guide. Eatting more liver cleansing and balancing foods, greatly reducing sugar intake, moved my cup of decaf coffee a day to a half a cup every week. Stopped taking every supplement- and believe me- I had a collection!

    About 2 months ago, I felt called to go to acupuncture again with someone new who had knowledgeable in foods. And I was very clear with her that I wasn’t interested in trying to manipulate my body but just wanted to find optimal health and balance. It’s true my hope is to conceive and give birth to a healthy child again. But my motivation feels like I’m less gripping on the steering wheel. And more driving slow, looking around, doing the gut check.

    I eat very healthy. I was diagnosed with mild celiac and so eat no gluten. Eat greens three times a day- dandelion, kale, mustard, parsley, you name it! When I eat meat its lamb or fish- sometimes buffalo. I have a few pieces of chocolate a week- but no more cookies or other sweets. I eat nuts and seeds and barely eat any dairy- though sometimes butter, and goat milk yogurt. I drink a green smoothie every day with greens and fruit and water. I do yoga, exercise, (still need to get more sleep!). This is all to say that along with also doing my FH imagery and Body Truth practice, I feel really pretty good. But lately I’ve been wondering about some things and would love some guidance.

    1) I’ve started taking Vitex. I have been taking digestive enzymes and probiotics. But don’t take any multi. If I choose to do the Univera products- do I do pre-natal or general?

    2) My acupuncturist said that my body tends to have liver stagnation and liver blood deficiency. I’ve been eatting carrot/beet lemon juice salads for breakfast for months (though not every day), and have been trying to incorporate more blood building foods. I’m being called to try more liver and bone soups. I’ve been doing green/fruit smoothies most mornings but don’t have a juicer. Can I get the same benefits from smoothies that you can from juicing? If there’s nothing in but greens, fruit and water?

    3) I don’t know whether or not to be taking the Vitex. I’ve taken it before and just pulled it from my cupboard when I saw it listed on the FH herbal recommendations. I like that it is about helping body find natural balance. I believe my body knows how to come into balance- but this is where the Orphan comes back and wonders- How did I go so quickly from having normal cycles to having not normal cycles- (It’s been a year and a half now)- my cycles come irregularly and are shorter than ever before. “Am I missing something about my what my body needs?” So taking Vitex feels like a gentle addition. But I notice that its hard for me to trust what to take- fearful that something I will take with send me down the wrong path.

    4) My cycles the last 2 months have been day 19 and day 24. I’m now on day 39 with no period. I don’t feel pregnant at all. I’m pleased to not be feeling overwhelmed by my bodies irregularity- still. But so curious as to how much my body needs to come into balance again. As interestingly, there were three weeks this past month where I felt a lot of stress, had more than 1 cup of decaf in the week, ate frozen yogurt a bunch more, and felt sludgy. Could these bad few weeks have been a culprit in not yet creating regular cycles/ovulation. Or have I discovered that no matter what I do (and yes, this is likely an Orphan)- eat well, don’t eat well, take supplements, don’t take supplements, take Chlomid, don’t take Chlomid, take herbs, don’t take herbs, go to acupuncture, don’t go to acupuncture- does any of this really have any effect on ovulating regularly again? Or has my body just decided to be done with regular ovulation? BUT- here’s what I know- eatting well, staying in touch with my body feels better. So I guess that’s my motivation right there.

    Thank you for helping me gain some perspective here by writing this all here!

    • pineapple says:


      I know this is an old post but I’d love to know what the situation is now regarding cycle regularity? I too can say I’ve taken similar actions with the same result and its very frustrating as I’m still trying to recover from them.

  2. plb says:

    Thanks Julia for this thought provoking blog. I really have been resonating with the orphans that say fix me quick, I’ll do anything to get pregnant. I have really been looking at this over the last month and how this one has affecting my decisions in the past. I decided to stop taking all of my supplements a few weeks ago because I was feeling like it was too much for my body to digest right now. I felt really good knowing that I can make these decisions about my body and all I have to do is listen. Thanks for encouraging us and giving us the tools to listen to our bodies.

  3. maz says:

    For me, it wasn’t just listening to my body but the importance of knowing my body. After my last (3rd) miscarriage my FS offered me DHEA. Left me the script and gave me the option to take it if I wanted – which was empowering in itself.
    After a week of imagery (and pulling DHEA out of the river on my golden line!) and discussions with practitioners I trusted I filled the script and got the tablets. I took one!…within hours my body was racing – I had palpitations, sweats, and was hyper-stimulated. The symptoms were all ones I had been warned about, and perhaps a year ago I would have accepted them as part of the process to getting pregnant – but I felt like I had poison in my body and I was only able to hear my tissue speak because I had come to know it so well.
    I didn’t take another tablet. We got pregnant naturally the following month and I am almost 11 weeks now. My body truth supported me instead in asking for progesterone support this pregnancy and so far so good.
    There is such power and wisdom in our tissues if we can have the courage to trust it. I will always wonder what happened with my sub-conscious and my imagery that seemed to support the DHEA but I am glad that my tissue spoke to me and I was able to hear it!

  4. P. says:

    Many times in the past I consulted practitioners that gave me a lot of supplements that I was never able to take for more than a few weeks. I was frustrated and thought ‘why can’t I take these capsules if everyone else seems to benefit from them?’ But I realized that supplements are medicine and not everyone has the digestive system ready to absorbe huge amounts of concentrated substances. Sometimes it is necessary to first heal the digestive system and then take the supplements. Like many of you mentioned, I also noticed that I need to do my research and somehow be convinced of the goodness of a supplement before being able to see some results.

    This post, however, brings up another question for me: how many of the practitioners we consult are true healers and willing to understand and listen to the specific situation of each one of us? Both traditional and alternative doctors seems to be losing the capacity to listen to their patients – despite what they might say in their initial consultations. This work and this community remind me that healing is a much more complex and even exciting process!


  5. Tracy says:

    Well said, Sarah. Congratulations on your pregnancy and an even bigger congratulations on listening to yourself and your inner wisdom. It’s an important lesson that I am learning.

  6. Divya says:

    Thanks for posting this story Julia. I am not able to read the link to the DHEA article but I do want to know more about it. I have been taking it for the past 6 months on my doc’s advise but ever since then my cycles have become weird. Gosh…if only there was one answer to every question.

  7. Littletiger says:

    I can’t access the link to the DHEA article. Does anyone know where to find it?

  8. Divya says:

    Thanks for posting this story Julia. I would love to read the link you posted about DHEA coz I have been taking it on the doc’s advise for the past 6 months but my cycles have actually become weird after starting it. I checked on some boards and am finding out that it is normal. I took it in full faith but am really wondering if it is doing more harm than good now. Could you pls re-post the links or let us know how to get them to work?

  9. sdlc says:

    Thanks you for this post as a big reminder to listen to our own bodies and hearts. I remember when I was told by Dr. G that I had a less than one percent chance of getting pregnant with IVF, but that if I chose the donor egg option he could get me pregnant with twins no problem. I was desperate and wanted someone to “fix” this problem so I tried acupuncture, but I had no idea what was being done and didn’t really understand what the herbs were I was taking. I just wanted someone else to fix me so I could have a baby. It was also really expensive and without results I eventually stopped. I think the biggest issue in both these cases was not feeling like I had any power in making my own decisions for what was best for me. Julia thanks for helping me realize that as you say we are “co-creators” and although we can control the outcome, we definitely can have a say and an opinion about what we think is right for us to do on this journey.

    • Stairway2HI says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. In my journey to become pregnant, I too was told that I had a 3% chance with IVF and a 1% chance with IUI. I attempted IVF and progressed well until the point of implantation where a day or two later, I developed a serious fever. Needless to say, the IVF trial was not successful. I then took four months to focus on my recovery and wellness and began my OVUM practice. After careful consideration and listening to my body, I felt I was ready to attempt pregnancy again, and felt confident that IUI was a good method for me despite the 1% chance of becoming pregnant. Like that of my IVF trial, two days after insemination, I developed a serious fever, worst then when I did IVF.

      I rarely get sick and live a healthy lifestyle of non-processed foods, organic fruits and vegtables, no meat or chicken, fish, no dairy, supplements, and exercise. When I listen to my body I feel and believe that my body developing a fever so close to me taking injections of Gonal F and hcg (human chorionic gonadotropin) are caused by these fertility drugs. I now wonder if insemination without any medication is my path. Too this end, I must now focus on storing my health and rebuilding my immune system after taking the fertility drugs and see what my body says.

  10. Robin says:

    Thank you so much Julia for helping us sort things out related to herbs and supplements. There is a lot of information out there – often conflicting. Also it is vital to listen to our bodies’ responses as we are all unique.

  11. Tracy says:

    Thanks Julia for this post. I know now that my orphans were dictating my visits with Dr. J. I was feeling very desperate. I am so happy that others can learn from my situation and use it to empower themselves. : )


  12. T says:

    Thanks Julia for this blog. I am sure that I allowed my orphans to dictate my visits with Dr. J. I was feeling desperate and hopeless. After our conversation I stopped everything and started taking the USANA vitamins. It’s only been a few days, but I feel great. I am so glad to hear that others have learned from my experience and use it to empower them.

  13. Kim says:

    This blog was such a great reminder to me to rely on my visionary when I access any type of care for my body. I read this one day before an appointment with a naturopathic professional (who is a chiropractor and does muscle testing). She has a great reputation and does applied kinesiology, which I was interested in, through muscle testing, to see if a sensitivity to yeast would show up, (which it did).

    When I did IVF my orphans were in total control and subsequently I felt so helpless. Yet I placed total “trust” in the fertility clinic that they were going to fix my “problem”. Sometimes, I didn’t even want to know bloodwork values – I thought, “just get me pregnant”. Whew!!! When I saw an acupuncturist who told me she had great success with infertility, I put my total trust in her, and my voice inside was not consulted when I had doubts it was doing anything for me.

    Yesterday, I thought so much of Julia’s blog and T.’s experience with her naturopath. I went in to the appointment with an open mind, with visionary purpose, and I asked alot of questions. I did not accept that her diagnostic and treatment offerings were absolute fact for me, I questioned her with an open mind while reminding myself to consult with my body first.

    The appointment was helpful, there were things I liked and didn’t like, and overall I came away feeling empowered instead of helpless and blindly “trusting”. If I hadn’t read this blog, I may have fallen into the same trap of thinking with my orphan ,(i.e. I have a problem, this person knows more than me, they MUST be able to fix it). Instead, today, I feel confident in the knowledge that I was thinking for myself, got some helpful information, and I didn’t buy out her natural pharmacy with some hormone-based “nutritionals” as she-called them. What is that?? I asked her and she said they aren’t homeopathic, they are nutritionals. I did not get enough explanation from her, and my visionary told me, there is no way I am buying this stuff just because she recommends it. Let get names of things, go home, do my research, and then make decisions.

    Again, thank you for the blog post. My appointment may have gone much differently without it.

    XOXO Kim

  14. KLou says:

    Julia — sorry I didn’t see your new blog post until right before our phone circle. But it really hit home to me today. I’m trying to listen closely to my body right now after missing a period (not normal for me) and I do believe my hormones are out whack. I’ve been posting about it on the boards but I think I may have overdosed my body with progesterone cream after ovulation last cycle… moderation is key but my orphans may have been running the show while I was coating myself last month. Thanks for reminding us to think first and to always listen to our bodies.

  15. kateriney says:

    Thanks for this Julia.
    I’ve been thinking of DHEA but having some reservations.
    I couldn’t access the links you used but after this blog entry I feel I will listen to my inner doubting voice and leave it out.

  16. Sarah Paulsen says:

    Right before I got pregnant, I was on the hunt for a more natural way to work with my immune system which was causing me to miscarry. Doctors prescribed immune suppressants, which seemed counterintuitive. I went to see an acupuncturist at the recommendation of a friend. She was Chinese and spoke very little English. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I liked the fact that she was Chinese. It made the process feel more authentic, like she was closer to the practice by virtue of her nationality. I was willing to waive any misgivings about not being able to communicate with her.

    After our first consultation, I discovered that I was pregnant. I continued to see her for a few weeks, but stopped abruptly for two reasons. One, there was no way to figure out what was in the teas she was prescribing and what they were doing to me. Her best answer was to tell me to trust her, that she had gotten many women pregnant. That was all well and good but I had no trouble getting pregnant. It was keeping the pregnancy that was difficult. It wasn’t a good enough answer. The definitive moment was during an acupuncture session. One of the needles placed right near my uterus was hurting me. It took 10 minutes for someone in the office to hear me calling.

    I will say if it wasn’t for nurturing the ultimate mom all those months prior, I’m not sure I would have empowered myself as quickly to leave. It’s so tempting to believe in the authority you’re paying, but when he or she can’t or won’t explain the treatment, it’s too risky. For all I know, the teas this doctor prescribed were the perfect remedy, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t feel secure. Our Fertile Heart wisdom should lead the way. That is the great blessing of our community and the work we do.

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Sublimely Fertile Friend,

Yep, you ABSOLUTELY ARE sublimely fertile.

Take a little break from the baby chase, grab my free "What to Expect from a Fertility Expert" Ebook, and let the baby catch up with you.

Isn't it time to stop spinning your wheels?


(You will receive a link to the ebook after entering your email below, Please make sure to white list, otherwise the mail might go to your spam folder.)

You will be receiving a link to your Free Ebook in your email.