If you’ve had a chance to read my previous blog post, then you will remember that I had my second set of blood tests (as a follow-up for my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea)done last Friday (June 5th). The doctor was testing to see if my hormone levels, specifically estrogen, had increased as a result of changes to my diet and exercise routine.
I received an email from my Doctor this morning, and all it said was that my estrogen levels “are still low,” and that she would be requesting a bone density test (per my inquiry), and an MRI to check my pituitary function “to make sure there is no structural reason” why I am not getting my period.
My reaction to the news was as follows: worry; despair; sadness; crying; frustration, and eventually a “k sera sera” mentality that has left me feeling happy again.
A Grain of Salt
Perhaps this section could be more appropriately named as “finding the silver lining.” It is natural to assume the worst when a doctor wants to test for different types of diseases (my “pituitary tumor” alarm bells were ringing loud). Word of advice – DO NOT GOOGLE YOUR SYMPTOMS and let the results leave you distraught. Unfortunately, you will likely come away thinking that you have cancer, or another seriously, life-threatening condition. While, this is always a possibility, realize that your doctor may just be requesting tests as precautionary measures – requesting tests DOES NOT CONFIRM that you have a certain disease.
So, that’s how I overcame my absolute terror regarding the MRI request.
Reading Between The Lines
So my doctor told me that my “estrogen levels are still low;” however, I asked her to release the specific blood test results to me regardless. I then loaded the data in to Excel, and did my own analyses to find the following:
|Estradiol (this indicates my estrogen levels)||<12||14|
Now, what the doctor failed to mention, was that there WAS AN INCREASE in my hormone levels, albeit relatively small. For those of you wondering what these numbers mean, here are some guidelines:
|ESTRADIOL Reference Range (female):|
|Follicular phase: 20-100 pg/mL|
|Mid-cycle: 80-400 pg/mL|
|Luteal phase: 30-220 pg/mL|
|FSH Reference Range:|
|Follicular phase: 2-8 mIU/mL|
|Mid-cycle: 6-23 mIU/mL|
|Luteal phase: 1-6 mIU/mL|
|Post-menopausal: 21-106 mIU/mL|
|Prepubertal Children: 1-6 mIU/mL|
|LH Reference Range:|
|Follicular: 2-15 mIU/mL|
|Mid-cycle: 10-91 mIU/mL|
|Luteal: 1-15 mIU/mL|
|Post-menopausal: 16-63 mIU/mL|
|Prepubertal Children: 1-3 mIU/mL|
Clearly, my increased caloric and fat intake, weight maintenance, and reduced exercise were working – YAY! The fact that my doctor had failed to mention this had sent me down a rabbit hole worries for no reason. Granted, is slow progress, but hey, it’s still progress.
Now, another thing that I found was that my white blood cell count had decreased slightly from my last blood test, as had my T3, which is a thyroid hormone. My doctor has not mentioned this either, so naturally I started panicking again. Naturally, Googling these symptoms freaked me out even more, so I paused and started to think about all of the dietary changes I had made in an effort to increase my estrogen.
Soy – BINGO! Through research, I had found that increasing soy intake can increase estrogen, so I went from drinking no soy milk, to drinking a soy latte every day. Remember what I had said about extremes and how maintenance and balance are key? Well, I may have just whacked my body out with the excess soy consumption. And my research confirmed this – soy, specifically the processed kind, can reduce white blood cell count through reduced zinc levels. Decreased zinc levels can also be reflected through decreased T3 levels – AHA!
My plan forward? I am going to stay positive 🙂 NOTHING IS WRONG RIGHT NOW, and why should I worry about something that is not final? I am going to cut out soy for now, and just focus on maintaining a balanced diet – maybe I’ll have the occasional soy latte, but certainly not everyday. I was going to talk to the nutritional therapist (who now wants $90 for a 30-minute phone conversation), but I realized that would just stress me out more because she never references my blood test data points, and never actually gives me tangible advice other than “just keep eating more fats; keep doing what you’re doing.” I’m sorry Doc, but for that much money, I need to be getting a little more than half-hearted validation.
Lots of love,