I Skipped My First Baby Shower…And I Don’t Feel Guilty

In the infertility world, we talk a lot about doing what’s best for you to make it through this crazy journey. This was the first time I truly did what was best for me no matter how anyone else felt about it.

I skipped a friend’s baby shower. I never thought I would be one of those. But I am. I was, and I don’t feel bad about it.

March was our first IVF. The ultimate result was a fail. Our embryos didn’t make it to blastocyst (stopped growing on day five), and I was caught of guard and a little depressed. OK, a lot depressed, but that’s a story for another post.

Up until this point, I would say I was pretty positive

Insert our friends and their pregnancy.

This is a couple we have done a lot of things with: Date nights,Birthday Parties, Game Nights, Cookouts, Weddings, Critiquing other friends’ girlfriends/boyfriends. We even got engaged within a few weeks of each other, and married in the same year.

We did a lot together…except get pregnant. Of course they have no idea about our struggle. When I first heard the news about the pregnancy, I had that mixed feeling many of us know all too well of happiness and despair. Excitement and panic. Joy and pain. (no sunshine or rain)

Once we got the announcement around the holidays, I started stressing about the shower. I knew it was coming because we saw one of the grandmas-to-be at another event, and she told me the date they had in mind for the shower.

I went back and forth in my mind about going, months before it even happened. Eventually, the invite came and it got real. It was a co-ed shower, so both hubby and I were invited. He was an emphatic “Yes”. I was still undecided.  I felt bad, but I had to pop his bubble a bit and ask him if he was prepared for questions about us having a baby. We had just found out about or failed IVF cycle a few weeks before and were still processing. I know men handle this differently, but they do have feelings. I didn’t want him to be caught off guard when someone asked and he was triggered. I had to remind him its a little different now, and that he may feel some time of way when someone says “You two are next!” I’ve become an expert. He’s still a rookie in these type of interactions.

He said he’d be fine. The real question was if I was going to go.

“Put me down as ‘yes’ for now, but I’m not sure.”

The weeks passed, and finally we’re at the week of the shower. I was still on the fence. We needed a gift, so of course I volunteered to stop at Target after work to pick up some items off the registry.

I always like to give books as part of a baby’s gift. I like books, and I want to create little readers. Plus, reading is great bonding time with parents and kids. I went into the book section, looking for some of my favorites; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Green Eggs and Ham, but I’m always looking for new books.

That’s when I found Wish. I vaguely remembered someone on Instagram mentioning the book. I opened it and started to read…and started to cry in the Target. In the children’s book aisle.

The plot:

As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it’s only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.

So there I am, reading this sweet book, and tears running down my face. That decided it: I. Wasn’t. Ready. Cute onesies, bibs and blankets are one thing, but an amazing children’s book about how Mommy and Daddy had to suffer and fight to have you: Waterworks.

I knew If I couldn’t read that book and keep it together in a Target, the chances of me making it through a shower were slim.

I went home, wrapped the gifts, and told my husband I wasn’t going.

“What do you want me to say?”

I didn’t have to think long because I did have an out. I had a meeting, then a little fellowship afterwards.  They didn’t know that I could leave or skip it all together if I wanted. Perfect! “I have chapter meeting, and it’s an important one.  I won’t be done in time to  ride down with you.” (They live about a two hours away)

Hubby went, and by all reports and pictures posted to Facebook, the shower was great.

As for me, I did what I wanted that day, and I felt not one drop of guilt. I’d rather have people slightly disappointed that I wasn’t there, than for me to be uncomfortable, on edge, wrestling my emotions, and recycling one of my canned responses to when we’ll have kids or why I ‘m not pregnant.

At some point, you have to choose you. Sometimes that looks like selfishness, being disengaged, or a party pooper to others.

But if they only knew the real story…….

 

 

If you’re interested in purchasing Wish by Matthew Cordell, for you or a friend, you can do so  here.

 

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8 Things You Need to Know about your IVF Protocol that No One Told You

Hi Maybes!

I’ve been a little quiet because…..I just finished my first  protocol for egg retrieval. We’re going to freeze and transfer in a few months once we get this thin lining resolved.

Updates on my cycle soon to come.

Having just finished the whole processes of stimulation and retrieval, I feel like there are things no one told me,practical things, that I never knew, so I’m going to share a few things I think might be useful to know before your start.

Step. Your. Sock. Game. UP
Seriously. You will be in the stirrups more in these 10-12 days then you probably have been in all of your adult life. Give yourself a boost of confidence. Give your doctor and staff something fun to look at. Keep them guessing.  Wear fun socks. Trust me on this.

Drink A Lot of Water

Why? Because you will have blood drawn every time you go in. Every. Time. You’ll feel like a pin cushion. If you’re like me (and hopefully you’re not), and have small and hard to find veins, drinking lots of water will help you a lot. Even if you’re a standard blood draw, being well hydrated makes your veins plumper and easier to find. It will make this part of the appointment go a little bit smoother.

My arm on day one of monitoring…

One of my arms on the last day of monitoring.

Give yourself an extra 5 minutes your first dose day

When taking your injections , its important that you dose at the same time every day, or as close as possible.  On your first day, or your first day adding a new medication, give yourself an extra five minutes, especially if its something like Menopur, that has to be mixed by you.

It can be a little cumbersome sorting out all of your needles and viles, mixing, and measuring. Add in at least a one minute pep talk to yourself the very first day to hype yourself up to stab yourself with a needle.

On that note….

PM dosing

The needles for the injections are not that bad

They really are thin, tiny needles. Unless you have a real fear of needles, you’ll be a pro at jabbing yourself after about three doses. Except for the trigger shot. THAT needle is longer, and a little wider, but it goes in your butt, not your tummy, and is intramuscular, going into muscle, so it needs a little more length and needs to be a little wider. Its all relative, because non of these needles in more than a few millimeters across.

For this process, a little tummy fat is a good thing!

Many of the stimulation meds are given subcutaneously, meaning under the skin. Usually you have to pinch an area of skin/fat on your abdomen. If you have a lil extra there, it will be a good for these purposes for this.

You can’t be Shy (because you may have to do your shots in a public space)

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw me post about my first public dosing. Long story short: I had the bathroom all to myself, them someone came in. With her nosey self, she lingered around, taking forever to wash her hands and re-applying her lip stick oh so meticulously, to see what I would be doing since by that point I had my supplies laid out. After a while I just said “F it! She gon’ learn today ” and proceeded with my shots.

I had 2 more times I had to dose in public restrooms. Fortunately, there was room and shelf (or shelf like) space in the stall where I was able to have more privacy. Except for the lady at the road stop that was telling me her whole life story from the other stall….

Bloat. All of the bloating. And Gas

I’m telling you because I love you. After a few days of stimulation meds, you will be a little bloated, OK, a lot bloated. And gassy. You’ll feel the pressure and heaviness of those enlarged ovaries (which is great!), but it makes you feel very bloated and full.  Your injection areas will be a little swollen as well. Its uncomfortable, but manageable.

 

Your mind will be a little foggy. You will have emotions and moods

This is commonly said, but I wanted to clarify. For me, it wasn’t the violent, quick, up and down mood swings, it was little things. I cried about something every day the first five days. Things that would usually just annoy me, made me really pissed off.  Things that wouldn’t bother me at all made me upset. It’s like PMS turned up a little. There were times in the middle of an emotional moment, I said to myself “why am I crying?” or “What is wrong with me?” I was very on edge.

The fogginess, I imagine is similar to what pregnant women call “pregnancy brain”. I just didn’t feel like myself. I forgot a lot. I felt like I was operating out of body a lot of the  time. It was just a general lethargy and sluggishness I fought through pretty much every day once things really go going. Some of it may not have been the meds, but also the overwhelmingness and newness of starting my first IVF cycle, and all that it meant. Just know that you will be in a strange head space, rather its med induced or not.

*Bonus Don’t call new people you meet by the name brand of one of your meds

This seriously happened to me, but I didn’t say it to his face. A group of my friends and I had just met some new people, and later I was trying to remember one guy’s name. It had a “V” and an “L”  in it somewhere. I said this with all seriousness:

Me: What was his name? Vivelle? Oh wait, that’s my estrogen patch.

 

 

 

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November: Adoption Awareness Month

As we walk, sometimes crawl, though this infertility journey, we have to keep our minds and hearts open.

Of course, there is nothing like carrying your own baby, but as we all know, sometimes that’s not possible. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a family.

Maybe you use a donor egg.
Maybe you use donor sperm.
Maybe you use a surrogate.
Maybe you adopt. And maybe, you adopt an older child.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. And while all adoptions are special, the focus of this month is on kids currently in foster care. Many of those are older, have siblings, or may have a disability.

Family is who and what you make it. We all want a new, snuggly baby to complete or family. But this month, while you think about family building, think about adopting from foster care, and consider older kids.

It may not be as easy a road, but no less rewarding.

adoption

 

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Girl! You LookGood! (But at what cost) Mystery of Fibroids Pt 2: Beauty Products

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Whatever you do, who ever you are as a woman, you use some type of beauty products every day: Make up, relaxers, nail polish, lotion, hair spray, wax, powder,deodorant…..

But most of these items contain chemicals that can be dangerous to our health with long term exposure, even in small doses.

Talcum powder has been in the news a lot lately because of questions of cancer in women and in workers who mine talc. (Find out more here.)

Most women already know about formaldehyde and the possible link to cancer in nail polish, and other beauty products, like the Brazilian Blowout that was popular a few years ago. (here)

The question is though, do any of these beauty and health products cause or contribute to fibroids?

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not a scientist. (though I was good at biology in high school, if that counts for anything) I’m just a woman with a little bit of time, and access to great wifi who wants answers, and wants to share the answers with you.

Let’s start with the mother of beauty products for many Black women: The Relaxer

For those of you who may not know:

A relaxer is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead.

-via Wikipedia

A relaxer is applied to “new growth” every 6-8 weeks to straighten the roots.

You can also watch this clip from Chris Rock’s Good Hair, where he explores relaxers, their frequency in the Black community, and an experiment with a chemist. Prince jokes aside, its a great way to gain an understanding of relaxers.

 In the last few years, many black women have decided to “go natural”, ditching perms and opting to wear their hair in its naturally curly or kinky state, or using heat to straighten instead of chemicals. Many women made this choice because it seems healthier, and part of that is the possible link to relaxers and uterine fibroids.

The rumor that relaxers, and other Black hair care products, may be linked to the higher rates of uterine fibroids in Black women has be circulating for a while. But is there any truth to this?

The most often sited study is this 2012 American Journal of Epidemiology study. The study is ongoing, and surveys 59,000 Black women 21–69 years old. The participants from around the country are asked to update their medical information and complete a survey every two years.  The study tracks various items, relaxer usage being one of them, by sending additional questionnaires for those who have been diagnosed with fibroids, and confirmed via ultrasound or other means. For the relaxer/fibroids portion, the researchers premise was: “Hair relaxers are used by millions of black women, possibly exposing them to various chemicals through scalp lesions and burns.”

Hair relaxers (straighteners) have been used by millions of US black women, often for long periods of time (6). Hair relaxers can cause burns and lesions in the scalp, facilitating entry of hair relaxer constituents into the body (714). The main ingredient of “lye” relaxers is sodium hydroxide; no-lye relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, and “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts (15). No-lye relaxers are advertised to cause fewer scalp lesions and burns than lye relaxers, but there is little evidence to support this claim (16). Products may also contain hormonally active compounds (17), such as phthalates, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often reported under the term “fragrances” or “perfume” (18). Cosmetic products are not subject to premarket approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and a complete list of ingredients is not mandatory (19), making it unclear what types of chemicals they contain. However, because the vast majority of hair relaxers list “fragrance” as an ingredient, and 100% of popular fragrances tested in a 2002 study were found to contain phthalates (18, 20), most hair relaxers likely contain these chemicals. In addition, some hair relaxer products directly list phthalates as one of their chemical ingredients (21).

 We’ll get more into phthalates later….Trust me. You need to know about them.

But the basic question is are Black women being exposed to harmful chemicals more and are the being absorbed quicker into the body via scalp burns?

Their conclusion:

In this large population of premenopausal US black women, we observed increased risks of uterine leiomyomata in association with ever use of hair relaxers, duration of use, frequency of use, and total number of burns experienced during use.

There’s a lot more to this study, and there are other studies out there, if you want to learn more. Please read the full study linked above as well as these articles/studies:

Journal of Women’s Health

Scientific American (a Black woman scientists take on some of the research out there)

Now if you can still hang with me I’ve got more. This is a long post, something I try to avoid, but its necessary sometimes.

Lotions, Shampoos, Soaps, Make Up

Above, there is a mention of phthalates.

What the f*** is a phthalate? (Pronounced phthal·ate )

I’m glad you asked.

Phthalates are a sort of plastic, and it is used in all types of  products, from CDs and toys to nail polish and hairsprays, and literally everything in between. Phthalates make plastics more flexible and durable. In beauty products, it is used to  make things less stiff and prevent cracking. On a label, phthalates are usually listed as: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP, or fragrance.

This chemical can be found in many beauty product we often use like body washes, or perfumed lotions, deodorant, (basically anything that has a smell to it), and nail polish. The use of phthalates in cosmetics is banned in Europe, but still 100% OK here in the US. This chemical is so common in so many daily products (not just beauty products), that many of us have detectable amounts of the chemical in our body, and, they can be passed on from mother to child.

But phthalates are not alone.

They have a buddy: parabens

Parabens are often used a a preservative in cosmetic products, such as shampoo, toothpaste, lubricants (ex: KY Jelly), shaving gel, and spray tan solution. There is often more than one type of paraben in a product. Parabens on a product label are usually listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben.

Parabens and Phthalates: Best Buds!

Parabens and Phthalates: Best Buds!

Phthalates and parabens do not need to work together, and they may not always be in products together, but very often when you see one, there is the other.

Now what is it about Parabens and Phthalates that is so bad? Well, they are both endocrine disruptors.  Endocrine Disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system, and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. (National Institutes of Health)

The ednocrine system is what produces hormones. Any system in the body controlled or affected by hormones could be impacted.

Getting the connection? Fibroids linked to increased levels of estrogen, natural hormone production possibly being interfered with by chemicals……

The problem is these two are in pretty much everything we use, including various beauty products. Many women are exposed to these chemicals at high rates, having them absorbed into the skin, daily, weekly, monthly via lotions, body washes, shampoos, nail polish, combined with their broader use in food packaging, plastic toys, toothpaste, and many other daily products. So there can be no conclusive evidence that these beauty products alone cause or contribute to fibroids, as they are so plentiful in our modern world, but as women, we are willingly exposing ourselves to higher doses.

 So do these products directly increase uterine fibroid risk, I side on yes, but not the beauty products alone.

Solution:

Look for products free of these chemicals. Organic and natural hair care and beauty lines. This might mean putting out a few extra coins, but it may be worth it in the end.

I use natural shampoos and conditioners, and I try to use natural oils and butters (shea, coconut) on my skin. Soaps have been a little more of a challenge for me, and I have not at all transitioned to “natural” makeup brands, though I’m a big fan of Shea Mositure products, including their foundation.

Sulfate free Shampoos

Three Top Paraben and Sulfate free Shampoos and Body Washes

Natural Make Up and Skin Care

What about all of the other things we do to beautify ourselves?

Waxing: 

Pretty harmless as long as your esthetician knows what s/he is doing, like using clean sticks and not double dipping. There are instances of STDs being spread due to bad practices. Otherwise, waxing is pretty safe.

Waxing Dangers

Manicures:

We all know nail polish can contain harmful chemicals like our buddies mentioned above and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). The curing process of a gel manicure, which requires time under a UV lamp, can create a new risk.  Prolonged exposure to UV light is known to increase the risk of skin cancer. (Think tanning beds)

If you can, find an organic nail polish (IDK how good they are or where you would even find organic polish, but apparently it is a thing)
Also, if you’re into gel manis, but sunscreen on your hands up to an hour before you go in. If they have you wash them, bring it with you to re apply.
Bottom line: You expose yourself to a lot of chemicals that may have negative effects long term, but there are ways to lessen  the damage.

7 things to know before getting a manicure

Gel Nail Safety Tips

Conclusion:
Chemicals are bad. They can cause or contribute to health problems, including uterine fibroids, but we can’t really avoid them in our day-to-day lives.

Make smart choices and eliminate or limit your exposure to these chemicals if you can. There is a risk for cancers, fibroids, birth defects, and a host of other issues associated with many of these chemicals.

Be BeYOUtiful, but don’t make yourself sick for it.

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July: Cookouts, Fireworks, and Awareness

July for Blog

One thing I have absolutely NO problem doing on my blog or social media is shouting out, partnering, or spreading awareness about/with other group or individuals that are about women’s health in general, or uterine fibroids, infertility, or Black women specifically.

I discovered last year that The White Dress Project started an initiative to recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month. I found out pretty much at the end of the month, but now that I know, I’m going to kick it off right.

July is Fibroid Awareness Month!!

This is an “unofficial” month of recognition and education on uterine fibroids. Some states have adopted, but there are about 45 to go.
Want to make it a nation wide thing? Sign this petition to send to Washington to make it happen ( I mean….they have a lot going on, but maybe something simple like this can make it through all the BS.)

Use this month to tell your story, make sure you’ve had your yearly visit to your gyn (*ehem* self), change your diet, schedule that myomectomy you’ve been putting off (trust me,you’ll feel 1000 times better!)

This month I’m going to publish Part Two of the Mystery of Fibroids focusing on beauty products as a possible cause or agitator of fibroids, and I’ll be sharing lots of articles and information on fibroids.

 

Check out the Fibroid Facts page for more information on uterine fibriods

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Prince (Even Though I Know You Did Not Celebrate Birthdays)

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Since April 21, 2016, I have been in a weird place. A sad place. A celebratory place. A place of remembrance. A place of discovery. I told myself (and my hubby) that after today, I will make an honest attempt to move on. Its hard feeling like you lost someone you knew so well, that you really didn’t know, and didn’t know you.

Prince Rogers Nelson would have turned 58 today. He was  is my favorite artist of all time. Please indulge me as I go off topic a little for today’s post as I give my tribute to him on the anniversary of his birth.

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You may remember last year on mother’s day, I went alone to a Prince concert.  Not only was that my way of escaping the infertile mother’s day blues, it was fulfilling a dream of mine since I was six years old: see Prince live in concert.

 I’m not a fan because I  thought he was sexy (though he has had his phases where, I can’t lie, he was lookin’ fine). I love Prince for his artistry and creativity. Even as a kid, I was just drawn to the music.  At six years old, I didn’t know what a “sex fiend was”, but I loved the way the music sounded and felt. When I was 9 or 10, I asked my Mom if I could go to see Prince in concert (it was 1988, Lovesexy tour). Of course the answer was “No”, but what 10 year old asks with all sincerity to go to a Prince concert? Me. When I decided I wanted to be a creative when I was around 13 or 14, I really started to appreciate him on another level. By high school I was fully immersed in all things Prince. Reading books, buying up CDs new and old, examining and dissecting lyrics. He made it OK to be different. When I was  a teenager, I was that kid that stepped juuuust outside the box. Enough to not be the same (because I never, even to this day want to be the same as everyone else),  but not enough that people thought I was strange. Just kinda weird. When I was in the 10th grade, I had this hat that was…different. I can’t explain it with words. But I loved it, and it was me. One day, a security guard at school said to me: “That is the ugliest cute hat I’ve ever seen.” It was the best compliment to me. It made me love the hat even more. That’s the confidence Prince gave me: I could wear ‘ugly-cute’ things with pride.  I mean, it takes a certain amount of confidence, and zero-f**k giving to be a grown man rocking 4 inch heels, wear eyeliner, and pants with you ass cheeks out. Prince made me OK with who I was.

Young Prince lookin good1 If I were 14 and not all of 1 or 2 when this poster was out...

Young Prince lookin’ good!
If I were 14 and not all of 1 or 2 when this poster was out…

Going through teenage angst, and the uncertainty of my 20s, and feeling like I didn’t quite fit in, even with friends all around, his music gave me a place to feel comfortable. When I  needed creative inspiration, he provided it. When I was in love, or when I was heartbroken, he had a song that somehow  expressed exactly what I felt in my soul. He was a friend I never met in person . An inspiration. He was everything I wanted to be as an artist.

He introduced me to new sounds of music. Because his music was everything from R&B, to Rock, I began to appreciate forms of music I might not have otherwise. He helped me expanded my mind and my world.

And, I can’t lie. I think I learned about kissing from Prince. When I saw Prince kiss Apollonia in Purple Rain, I just knew when I got older and got a boyfriend…that’s how it was gonna be. (well…..)

What was portrayed as arrogance and weirdness: not wanting to talk to people, being so tightly in control of his image, being a perfectionist: I understood. He was (I’m almost positive) an introvert. Introverts in general have little to no patience for small talk, or being “fake”, and keep their world small, keeping those they trust and like most close.

Prince through the years

Prince through the years

But of course, Prince was not perfect, and was, after all, human.  Prince comes with a story of loss that does relate to infertility. In 1996, he and his first wife Mayte Garcia lost their son to a rare genetic disorder just one week after birth. Mayte recently admitted to losing a second pregnancy to miscarriage not long after. The pain of those losses seems to  have taken a huge toll on their marriage. Its a reminder to us, that while we have a lot of emotions and feelings about not conceiving or losing a pregnancy, we’re not in it alone. Our partner also experiences disappointment, fear, loss, and heartbreak.

Prince was not afraid to speak his mind. About the record industry. About God. About Chemtrails. About Black Lives.

He gave anonymously to libraries, music programs, and schools. He quietly donated money to the family of Travon Martin. He stood up for Black empowerment.

He was a Philanthropist and humanitarian.

As much as I, and all of the Purple Army feel like we knew him, the truth is we didn’t know all of him. We knew the parts of him he allowed us to know. The recent medical examiner’s report released June 2, 2016 lists the cause of death as accidental. Cause: overdose of Fentanyl.

I struggle with this, as he was known to be a clean eater. A vegan. Not a drinker or smoker, or into drugs. But after years of doing splits, leaping off of speakers and pianos, and wearing four inch heels, I’m sure his body paid the price. Even after hip surgery, I’m sure some level of pain persisted. My understanding of chronic pain is not much, but I know that it can be debilitating.

If he did become dependent on painkillers to perform, it doesn’t change the way I feel. If anything, I have empathy. Both Prince and Michael Jackson were so in love with music and performing, and wanted perfection, that they pushed themselves to the extreme limits. Literally wearing themselves out.  Possibly not only numbing the physical pain, but emotional and spiritual pain from the past as well.

 

I fully expected Prince to be walking out on a stage with in full swagger and guitar strapped around him when he was 80 years old, still tearing it up. We just can’t believe he’s not here. I know I can’t

Picture credit: Billboard 2016

Notes, flowers, and more left at Paisley Park Picture credit:
Billboard 2016

Since April 21, the world has been mourning and celebrating: Dance parties, tribute bands, memorials, Facebook groups, Instagram pages, and movie marathons. People are fully taking advantage of the temporary leniency and distraction of his attorneys, posting concert footage, rare interviews and music on YouTube (They are back on it now, and videos are coming down with the quickness) Then of course, there was Madonna’s tribute…

 

It remains to be seen if BET will live up to their claims in the shadiest promo that’s ever been shown. (See what I did there Prince fans) Today they announced some of the artists scheduled to perform in the BET tribute.

We shall see….

 

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The point is, today, I want to say Happy Born Day Prince Rogers Nelson!

Artist. Humanitarian. Visionary.  Businessman. Teacher. Performer. Human. Friend. Alexander Nevermind. Jamie Starr. The Kid. Camille. “That skinny mothaf***a’ with the high voice”. Christopher Tracy. The Artist. Genius.

You’ve given us all so much. I know you are with God, and you will live forever through your music and philanthropy.

Peace and Be Wild.

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Welcome 2 The Dawn

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But Why? The Mystery of Fibroids Part 1: Estrogen Dominance

 

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By now we all know that up to 30% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 35 , and up to 80% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 50. African American women suffer more severe symptoms, they grow more quickly, and happen at a younger age.

The real question is ‘Why?’

Is it genetics? Food? Environmental factors? Cosmetics? Estrogen dominance? Some combination of these?

When I was first diagnosed with fibroids, I wondered “how?” How were there so many? How did they grow so large? How did I not know? What caused them?

Now, three years later, there is no sign of them (thankfully) at this point. What’s changed? I haven’t had a relaxer since 2005. I haven’t been on birth control since about that same time. But, my diet  and exercise routine now is actually worse than it was prior to 2013.

I took some time to dig into some factors and theories regarding uterine fibroids. There’s a lot more to dig through than I thought there would be, so I am breaking this into a series, with each possible cause getting its own post.
First up: Estrogen Dominance

 

Estrogen dominance: A condition where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen, but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.

Estrogen dominance is more of an imbalance, in the sense that usually its not that someone’s body is making an abundance of estrogen (though that could be the case), just that the balance of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body is off.

Our Hormones in Blance (graphic courtesy of fibroidelimination.com/)

Our Hormones in Balance
(graphic courtesy of http://www.fibroidelimination.com/)

Before I go deeper, let’s first review some basics of a woman’s biology. You’ll need the review to get a full understanding of Estrogen Dominance.

As we all know, women have menstrual cycles. A cycle starts the first day of your period, to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but can vary form woman to woman.

The two main sex hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone. They work together to maintain balance in our body at all times. 

Estrogen regulates menstrual cycles, promotes cell division, and in puberty, the development of breasts, growing pubic hair, etc.

Progesterone maintains the health of a fetus. It protects us against the  effects of estrogen by stopping further ovulation the second half of the menstrual cycle if a woman is pregnant.

Estrogen is highest in the first half of your cycle. It reaches highest levels during ovulation, then drops and progesterone rises. Progesterone is released during ovulation. Some testosterone is also released around the time of ovulation. If you do not get pregnant, you have a period and everything starts all over.

 

Now that the review is out of the way, let’s get little more into ED.

Because our bodies need estrogen and progestoreone to maintain our body’s reproductive cycle, it is important that they stay in balance.  They counter each other. If/when that balance is upset, even on the smallest level, there can be problems.

How do you know you have a hormonal imbalance of any kind? Some symptoms of hormonal imbalances may include:

  • Irregular Periods
  • Sleep Problems
  • Acne
  • Foggy Memory
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid Weight Gain/Loss
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Headaches
  • Breast Tissue Changes
  • Loss of Libido
  • Infertility

 

Some symptoms or conditions thought to be the result of Estrogen Dominance specifically may include:

  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Uterine Fibroids

 

What causes the imbalance?

Several possible things:  Low progesterone levels/production,  chronic stress, synthetic estrogen (birth control pills, HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy]), as well as environmental hormones and hormones found in food(diet)

 

Some hormone levels naturally drop with age, so as we get older, hormone imbalance of some sort is inevitable. So if our progesterone levels decrease, and our estrogen does not decrease at a comparable rate: Estrogen Dominance.
Of course, taking any hormonal birth control or HRT will alter the body’s balance. Birth control is made to fool our bodies prevent a true period. These two factors seem like obvious reasons for the body to be out of balance.

But what about food and environment?

In foods and the environment, we are exposed to Xenoestrogens.  Xenoestrogens are are a type of xenohormone that imitates estrogen. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. (Wikipedia)

With so many processed foods, genetically modified foods, pesticides, hormone injected meats, and foods with soy (which is a known natural xenoestrogen) its no wonder that our hormone levels are affected by what we consume. There is a big movement for less additives, and preservatives in foods: clean eating. It makes sense. With so many additional chemicals on and in food, the long term affects can’t be good for us. Does ingesting so many additional hormones from meats and chemicals in foods not initially meant for human consumption hurt us? I’m sure is doesn’t help. Do they contribute to an increase or decrease of hormones? Its very likely.

On the same road as food is environmental factors. Many of these, we have very little to no control over. Many environmental chemicals are also xenoestrogens. Many of which are found in daily beauty products (Post number two in the series). The main culprit is plastics. Remember the whole BPA in plastic bottles thing? The compound is found in everything from drink can coatings, to DVDs, to water bottles. It can disrupt or mimic natural hormones.

 

So what can you do?

You need testing to determine your hormone levels, which can only be done by your doctor. They will be able to determine if your levels are within the range of “normal”.

Outside of medical intervention, things can be done on your own to help balance your levels.

Changing the diet is the biggest thing, and probably the hardest for many. Let’s face it: fruits and grilled veggies are very tasty, but sometimes, a big ol’ cheeseburger and fries just tastes and feels sooo good.

Modifying diets to eliminate or greatly reduce soy, meats such as beef, and processed foods decreases exposure to additional estrogens or estrogen-like compounds. Of course, increasing exercise and being more active will also help.

There are various diet programs out there geared towards fibroid elimination. I don’t make it a habit of publicly endorsing programs/people/things that I haven’t personally tried on this blog. I would say if you’re going to try one of these programs, do your research.

Beware of your plastics use. Try not to warm up items in the microwave in plastic containers. The warmed plastic molecules can possibly seep into and contaminate your food. This is in very, small amounts, but over time, this could increase estrogen in your body. Don’t drink out of bottled water bottles that have been sitting in a hot car (same principal as microwaving in plastic), and try to buy water bottles (and bottles for babies for that matter) that are labeled BPA free.

 

There is really a lot more to say on Estrogen Dominance, its part of the reason this post look literally months for me to get up. I kept researching and trying to figure out what to write and what to leave out. At the same time, I kept discovering more stuff!

I hope this was a good first step to learning more. I definitely recommend taking the time to do more research on your own. You can start here:

butternutrition.com/estrogen-dominance-hormonal-imbalance/

www.ecopedia.com/health/estrogen-dominance-how-food-affects-men-and-women/

www.drlam.com/blog/estrogen-dominance-part-1/1704/

 

Next post in the series: Beauty Products and Fibroids

I’m talking relaxers, lotions, nailpolish, makeup, hair glue…..errthang.

 

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