After the last encounter with the endocrinologist, I’d reached the end of the line in terms of standard Western medicine. It was looking pretty ugly for me.
After discontinuing Yaz because it triggered arrhythmias (plus the abnormal EKG) my remaining options, according to the standard PMDD treatment algorithm, were chemical menopause. I was being bullied into taking medications that I could tell were bad for me and my body was clearly rejecting them. I needed an alternative.
My Psych Nurse offered one – another patient with similar symptoms had amazing success from an alternative route to treating PCOS. I did some background research on this so-called NaProTech, cringing at the circa 2006 webpages, and was…confused. Concocted by the Pope Paul VI Institute, NaProTech (Natural Procreative Technology) is a system for supporting natural family planning – and treating related women’s health issues.
Everything screamed “Catholic cult medicine,” and yet, it spoke Science to me. Moreover, it promised to do exactly what I had naively assumed an endocrinologist would do: observe and test my body as the dynamic system that it is, and then prescribe treatment specific to my body’s dysfunctions. It espoused an ethic of working with a woman’s body instead of trying to force it into submission, restoring its natural balance rather than killing off the entire gonadotropic hormone system.
It sounded like evidence-based medicine practiced with compassion. Too good to be true, I thought. The medical establishment’s equivalent of a freaking unicorn.
But when I stopped taking Yaz, I had no more alternatives, so I gathered up my courage and found a practitioner. There are all of 4 certified NaProTech practitioners in the 55,000 square miles that make up the great state of New York. As luck has it, I have convenient access to one of them.
Monday morning’s initial consultation left me hopeful. The doctor started off by listening to me, asking good questions, and responding in ways that told me that my experiences were nothing new to her. The goals she outlined were to improve mood symptoms, reduce pain, and reduce the cysts. Everything she said made sense, unlike the self-contradictory messages I’ve heard before. The steps to get there are pretty easy.
First, I need instruction in the Creighton Model of cycle charting, which is based on cervical mucus. Minor yuck factor, but whatever – it works. After about 2 months of charting, when I can accurately identify my peak day of fertility (end of ovulation), we’ll do targeted testing as needed and I can start treatment.
My symptoms are consistent with low progesterone, so I’ll probably have to supplement – but not with synthetic hormones, which my body has already rejected on every try. It sounds like I’ll be trying injections of HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin, extracted from pregnant lady pee) at specified intervals, which is intended to boost natural progesterone production.
OK, sounds fine, but…injections? That’s basically my Rx Nightmare! Needles often make me faint, and thinking about administering meds by injection makes me lightheaded. But I have a couple months to get used to the idea – and plenty of Ativan. Another treatment possibility is low-dose Naltrexone, to support compromised beta-endorphin activity. She said we’d take it slow and easy since my body is clearly so sensitive and reactive.
The whole Catholic medicine thing? Doesn’t bother me. I grew up Catholic, after all, and I’m honestly grateful to find a treatment option that seems to come from a place of compassion and common sense. This is basically my last resort; there’s nowhere else to go from here except menopause, chemical or surgical, and that’s a horrendous excuse for treatment.
I really hope this works.