Laura gives a more longer answer:
I'm not a doctor, but I've been learning a lot about Progesterone and it's necessity and use during pregnancy, and in a woman's life in general. Let me first recommend reading the book "Menopause -- What Your Doctor May or May Not Tell You about Natural Progesterone" by Dr. John R. Lee. Don't let the title throw you. The information found therein is invaluable to EVERY woman and ANY stage of life.
You all know that Progesterone is necessary to keep the early part of pregnancy going. Well, progesterone is also necessary in order to have comfortable periods etc. MOST women in the western world are deficient in progesterone to some extent. This is why PMS and all the other symptoms that go along with it are so prevalent. A lot of this comes from the preservatives and hormones used in raising our food -- vegetables and animals alike. You don't find these sorts of ailments in the populations of countries where people essentially live off their own land.
In any case, the next thing is that NATURAL progesterone requires NO prescription!!! That's right!! It requires No prescription at all because it is just that -- NATURAL. The pharmaceutical companies, in order to be able to patent something else, have resorted to "altering" minor little bits of naturally occurring things within a given element -- such as progesterone. Problem is that when your body runs across that minor "alteration" there's no telling what it'll do with that change of information. It can cause anything from a minor headache to, in extreme cases, even cancer. Why would you subject your body to something like that if you don't have to? Unfortunately, even many doctors don't realize that there is another option, nor do they realize that they're being duped by the pharmaceutical companies.
You can buy progesterone creames at most health food stores. Yes, different companies have different actual AMOUNTS of the hormone in their product, and Dr. Lee's book talkes about which brands he recommends most and why. The cream I use is spread on fatty tissues -- your breasts, inner thighs; and thinner skin -- upper chest, wrists. And can even be used on the face -- it is a cream, and not a suppository, so it has other ingredients in it besides the hormone; things such as aloe vera.
Basically what I want to get across is this -- find out from your doctor if he's giving you NATURAL progesterone. If he doesn't know, have him find out BEFORE you use it. In the meantime, if you're prone to annoying PMS -- cramping, bloating, mood-swings, etc., go ahead and get yourself a tube of natural progesterone cream. You CANNOT use too much. Since it's completely natural you body will get rid of any excess all by itself. The only known side-effect of using an extreme amount is some fatigue. That's it!!! If you'd like more information on the dosage and all that, feel free to write me anytime at email@example.com. Ever since I started using the stuff I've not had serious PMS or any of it, and my husband loves it if for no other reason than that :-)
Hope it's of some help to you.
High progesterone is not an indicator of pg, though. Take last month for example, I had a progest. level of 25.6 and we didn't even try, so I certainly wasn't pg.
If your progesterone is low or borderline, dr's will prescribe progesterone suppositories to help your progesterone level maintain what it should be. It needs to be high enough to support a potential pregnancy.
Just remember if you have a progesterone test done, it needs to be done at 7dpo, not necessarily on day 21 -- as we all know that people don't always ovulate on day 14!
My ob/gyn has informed me that the symptoms I have been mistaking for pregnancy the last few months are hormone changes. I would get breast tenderness, nausea, and fatigue from about 2 DPO onward. She says it is the progesterone climbing after ovulation and that these symptoms can appear in any order and severity. This also happens if you are pregnant, but because the symptoms can change from month to month you can be deceived over and over again. I am sorry if I sound like a wet blanket, but I wanted to share this information with the other women who have been getting their hopes up and hearts broken every month. I should also mention that if you go off of the birth control pill, the confusion can be greater because these symptoms may not appear right away until your cycles even out.
Trust me, I've been there! On the positive side, you can feel nothing at all and still be blooming pregnant!
I guess what I am saying is there is always a chance for all of us regardless of what our bodies are saying!!
One of the reasons I know of which can explain the spotting during pregnancy (if the spotting is not caused by miscarriage) is CONSTIPATION. Yes constipation can tighten your uterus and compress it which leads to the spotting. It's very well known that pregnancy hormones can cause constipation, which is normal. What to do about constipation? East LOTS OF FIBERS food!!!!!!!!!!!!FIBERS FIBERS FIBERS FIBERS FIBERS FIBERS :)
There are a lot of brands in the market, a summary of brands available and their sensitivities can be found at http://www.onna.org/information/hpt.html#sensitivities
creamchees found this comprehensive summary of different brands and their details:
detects as low as 20 mIU (The other companies are providing a guaranteed level,
which would obviously be higher than the as low as number provided here.) NOTE: I have been contacted
several times regarding false positives with this brand of test. Most of these false positives were in
overweight women who may have polycystic ovaries (PCO). It is possible that these tests are detecting
elevated levels of LH (luteinizing hormone). If your test line is very faint, please test again with a different
brand. Also manufactures a number of store-brand tests. Manufactured by Perrigo Allegan MI 49010
* detects 25 mIUs of hCG -- square test (2 steps)
* detects 50 mIUs of hCG -- 1-step
Manufactured by Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. Raritan NJ 08869 1-800-526-3979
Fact Plus square
* detects 25 mIUs of hCG -- square test (2 steps)
* detects 50 mIUs of hCG -- 1-step
Manufactured by Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. Raritan NJ 08869 1-800-526-3979
LifeSign 1 Midstream Pregnancy
detects 25 mIUs of hCG Available by mail order only from
Geodesic Meditech 1155 Camino Del Mar, #517 Del Mar, CA 92014 USA 1-888-357-9399,
1-619-792-1100 fax: 1-619-793-1824 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.geodesicmeditech.com
One Step Be Sure
detects 25 mIUs of hCG Manufactured by Syntron Bioresearch, Inc.
Carlsbad CA 92008 1-800-854-6226
detects as low as 25 mIUs, "guaranteed" at 50. Distributed by Selfcare, Inc. 200 Prospect
Street Waltham MA 02154 1-800-899-SELF (7353), 1-617-647-3900
detects 50 mIUs of hCG
detects 50 mIUs of hCG This for both 1-minute and 3-minute tests. Manufactured by
Whitehall Laboratories Madison NJ 07940 1-800-883-EASY (3279)
detects 50 mIUs of hCG Manufactured by Warner Wellcome Consumer Health
Morris Plains NJ 07950 1-800-EPT-1STEP or 1-800-337-7266
Fact Plus One-Step
detects 50 mIUs of hCG
detects 50 mIUs of hCG (this is the *new* test with 1 window, older test with 2
windows detects 100 mIUs) Carter Products Division of Carter Wallace, Inc. New York, NY 10105
detects 100 mIUs of hCG Distributed by Carter Products Division of Carter-Wallace, Inc.
1345 Avenue of the Americas New York NY 10105 1-212-339-5000 1-800-833-9532 (customer
service, *not* a help line)
detects 100 mIUs of hCG Quidel Corporation San Diego CA 92121 1-800-CONCEIVE
detects 100 mIUs of hCG Becton-Dickinson 1 Becton Lane Franklin Lakes NJ 07417- 1883
detects 100 mIUs of hCG Manufactured by Quidel Corporation San Diego CA 92121 for Ansell
Incorporated Dothan AL 36502 1-800-266-2348
Rite-Aid, Target & Hannaford
detects 100 mIUs of hCG Selfcare, Inc. 200 Prospect Street Waltham
MA 02154 1-800-899-7353
detects 100 mIUs Manufactured by Quidel Corporation for Walgreens Co. Deerfield IL
hCG level unknown, checking with manufacturer by mail since no phone number.
Distributed by London International U.S. Holdings, Inc. Schmid Laboratories Division Sarasota FL
My personal experience with Equate. I had several people tell me that equate wasn't very reliable. I agree - here is why. I took an equate test on day 30 of my cycle. After 8 minutes a very faint line appeared. The test instructions say to read a positive result within 3 minutes and a negative after 10 minutes is negative. That led me to believe that a faint 8 minute positive was fairly positive. On day 32 I took the test and had a faint + in 4 1/2 minutes. 4 days later AF came. Several people on the TTC BB have had false positives with Equate. A much more reliable, but yet sensitive test would be EPT.
Here's some information I came across in a Consumer Reports magazine from October of 1996. They rated HPT's and OPK's and I thought the information would be helpful to all of us. As for sensitivity (accuracy of test) and ease of use for HPT's..these were the top four 1) Answer 2)Clearblue Easy 3) Advance and 4) EPT. Answer was also the cheapest for one test. For OPK's...they rated on the same criteria ..sensitivity (accuracy) and ease of use. The best one was Clearplan Easy One step. Ovukit Self Test was #2 with sensitivity, but was harder to use...Then third was Ovuquick Self Test (the Ovuquick One step wasn't so accurate). Just FYI, the Conceive OPK was given a poor rating for sensitivity. I would recommend you not use it. Keep in mind these tests were done a year ago, and there may be others on the market. the following are the hpt's and opk's they used in the testing: HPT: Answer, Clearblue Easy, Advance, EPT, Conceive, Confirm, Fact plus, Walgreens, Precise and Be Sure Plus. The OPK's: Clearplan Easy, Ovukit, Ovuquick Self test, Ovuquick one step, Conceive 1 step.
For those of you who want to save their +++ HPTs to include in baby books, this is my experience with two different brands:
I got a dark +++ on Clear Blue Easy using first morning urine, but by that same evening the +++ was so light that you really had to strain to see it.
I also used EPT that evening and got another dark +++. Now a week later, that +++ is still clearly visible. So I'll be saving the EPT and throwing out the Clear Blue Easy.
Cindy (aka slocindy) says that:
the Confirm test (your TTC FAQ had amount listed as unknown) tests for 25 mIU I believe. I found this out on the TTCAM board and several of the ladies there prefer Confirm, although the test itself I guess is small and a bit awkward to use (according to them)
MFS also says:
I think a lot of the manufacturers of preg tests say to wait until the day of your missed period. However, several of the women on this board have gotten faint positives at 10 dpo. If you want to look and see what HCG levels are possible when pregnant, go to this site - you can see there is a big variance possible:
Then, if you want to check sensitivities for HPTs, check out here:
My experience last month was a phantom line (CVS), a light but definite pink line (ept), a fainter pink line (ept next am), then a phantom line with clearblue easy (next day). When my line got lighter, not darker, I suspected something was wrong. My blood test late the day of the clearblue showed a very low HCG level indicating I was no longer pg.
Most people I've seen on the board who get the faint lines then get stronger lines within a day or two, followed by dr confirmations.
As I was reading the instructions for HPTs, I noticed a small print that said that false results may be given in cases of cysts and hypothyroidism. Having it myself, I decided to ask DH to call the manufacturer and ask them what they meant by "innacurate results". Turns out that the medications given for hypothyroidism can cause HPTs to turn faintly positive (doesn't count if you get a big fat line). Just thought it was interesting to know... Couldn't they print it on the box so you know not to buy it??? I inquired about the Equate brand, but since they all use the same chemicals, it's probably going to be the same...
mamatammy warns about Equate (Wal-Mart):
Equate (Wal-Mart) * detects as low as 20 mIU (The other companies are providing a guaranteed level, which would obviously be higher than the as low as number provided here.)
NOTE: I have been contacted several times regarding false positives with this brand of test. Most of these false positives were in overweight women who may have polycystic ovaries (PCO). It is possible that these tests are detecting elevated levels of LH (luteinizing hormone). If your test line is very faint, please test again with a different brand. Also manufactures a number of store-brand tests. Manufactured by Perrigo Allegan MI 49010 1-616-673-8451
My experience was to have read it maybe 20 min or so after and seeing a faint (very faint) line, I was ttc at the time but my temp. dropped the next day (on schedule) and AF soon followed.
Although very rare, there are times when even if you have 18 high temps past o, you might not be pregnant. What happens is the corpus luteum develops a cyst. The corpus luteal cyst keeps the progesterone flowing and therefore keeps AF at bay. But eventually the cyst disintegrates, stopping progesterone and AF finally arrives.
This is what happened to me in July. I had over 32 high temps after o, but kept getting negative blood tests. Finally, AF arrived 2 1/2 weeks after she should have.
Joe also says:
It's normal unless it is 'extraordinary.' Which meams alot (i.e. you become animic during your period because of excessive loss of blod). If this is your case see a Dr. Otherwise, don't worry about it!
I always get this icky brownish goo before the bloody stuff (sorry, gross). I don't know why, it could be that there isn't a lot of stuff flowing out just yet so the blood kinda goes "off" to that brownish color before it can make its way out. Or maybe AF just can't make up it's mind to come just yet! it's normal and don't worry about it! Just remember that the next cycle starts when the blood shows, not when spot starts.
Karen however states:
Well, since I went off the BCP almost 2 years ago, I have had spotting like this from 3-5 days before AF and I was told by my dr. that it's NOT normal unless you are approaching menopause (which at age 27 I am not!) and we ran some tests and determined that the spotting is probably because of low progesterone/LPD which means that it's very difficult (if not impossible) to get pregnant until this is solved.
Last cycle I used natural progesterone cream to see if that would hold the spotting off (and to find out if the spotting was due to a hormonal imbalance) and sure enough, I didn't spot plus it lengthened my luteal phase. I also had two progesterone blood tests done and both of them were low, so I knew there was a problem. My doc agreed and wanted to put me on clomid to help the quality of my ovulation and thus progesterone production but I refused, not wanting the side-effects and thinking that even if I got pregnant, the old spotting problem might come back again afterwards.
So I decided to try herbs for the next few months--I'm doing dong quai and vitex (chasteberry tree) this month and so far I've had more EWCM and I ovulated 3 days later than previously (which implies a better-quality ovulation)! My temps are also much higher in relation to my low temp level, which probably means progesterone production is greater!! So I'm pretty optimistic right now that these herbs are helping and I hope to be able to go to my doctor with a positive hpt one of these days and tell her how I did it without clomid.
On the other hand, if they end up NOT working after 4-6 more cycles, I might go ahead and try clomid after all.
I also know that cyclical spotting for some women can be an indication of endometriosis, but for me, I didn't think that was the case because another main symptom of that is pain and I had none. I hope this information is helpful!
A couple years ago, I had about four cycles (not one after another) that were unbearable and scary.
All of a sudden I would get VERY shaky, sweaty, and double over with cramps. I know some women get like this anyway, but for me it was the first time ever so it was signficant. Even an 800 motrin didn't work. It would eventually go away. Scariest thing I ever went through. When I complained to my GYN, she said not to worry unless it happened a few times more.
A few months later, I went in for intermittant bleeding and the doctor said it was probably nothing. He also commented on how muscular my stomach felt!
Well, turns out that all of those symptoms were related to a gigantic cyst that I had growing (13x15cm). The "muscles" was the cyst! It ate up my right ovary and fallopian tube.
I am telling you all of this to emphasize the importance of getting to know your body. If I had kept track of my body better, I would of known that something was terribly wrong. If I had known more about my body I would of questioned my doctors and PUSHED for further testing. Please LISTEN to your body!!!! Even when you aren't trying to get pregnant, monitor it! Use the knowledge you have picked up here!!
Ovarian cysts are enlargements of the ovary that appear to be filled with fluid. They can be a simple fluid filled bleb or contain complex internal structures. The term cyst is used to differentiate them from solid enlargements. Simple cysts have no internal structures and are less worrisome than those with complex structures or solid components. A sonogram or ultrasound test can determine if a cyst is simple or complex.
Ovarian cysts are frequently encountered. Every menstruating woman develops an ovarian cyst each cycle. The menstrual cycle requires the coordinated functioning of the pituitary gland, ovary, uterus and the cervix. The pituitary gland in the head produces the hormones, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). These hormones are released into the blood stream and are the messengers that tell the ovary what to do.
The ovary responds to FSH by maturing an egg. While doing this the ovary makes and releases the hormone estrogen. The maturing egg is in a follicle cyst that grows to about one half inch in diameter. When the pituitary releases a surge of LH the follicle breaks and the egg floats out and eventually enters the tube. The remnant of the follicle cyst is called the corpus luteum and makes the hormone progesterone.
Sometimes the ovary does not ovulate and the follicle cyst persists. It will continue to enlarge and can become as big as a baseball. Eventually it will break and the woman may not even be aware that this has happened. The period may be delayed because there is no progesterone phase of the cycle to respond to. The corpus luteum can also become cystic.
The same report gives this technical causes:
There is really nothing to do to prevent the development of an ovarian cyst, although some lectures say that vitamins (especialy the B6) can lower your chance on having them. This is true because some vitamins (see the Vitamins section) help regulate and balance your hormonal system. The more your hormones are stable the less you will develop ovarian cyst.
A medical report that I found also says:
If these cysts are detected during an examination the woman will be told that she has a cyst. Usually this will cause considerable consternation. Now everybody is upset. Could the cyst be a cancer? Will an operation have to be done? How are these questions to be answered?
Schedule a reexamination for 4 weeks. If it is gone or getting smaller then it was a functional cyst: either a follicle cyst or a corpus luteum cyst. Nothing more needs to be done. If it persists then a diagnosis must be arrived at surgically.
In our normal and healthy vaginas, we have lots of organisms, the yeast organism is just one. When something happens to the normal balance in the vagina, the yeast can go crazy and multiply out of control! The reasons that it happens are varied, I used to get one form stress every final exam time , like clockwork, and the last Yeast infection I got was caused by some "motion lotion" the DH and I tried out for fun... Well I ended up with a good old yeast infection from that.
Usually, a 3 0r 7 day cream and suppository works, although I personally prefer the suppositories!
If it is the first time you've ever had one then you should probably see your doctor to confirm that it is a yeast infection. They are several kinds of medication on the market now. The over the counter options are creams. They range from a 3 day to a 7 day treatment. In my experience most take the same amount of time to actually start working. My doctor prescribed a "one dose" pill last time. It worked fine but it didn't cure it in one day as you might expect. It still takes just as long to relieve the symptoms, but there isn't a continuous dosage of medicine. I've found that applying an external cream also helps to soothe and relieve symptoms. If you think you might be pregnant be sure and check with your doctor before any treatment.
I once thought I had a yeast infection and called the doctor. The medicine didn't seem to be helping. I finally went into the doctor and I had another form of vaginitis. No big deal but I was itching to death and it took an antibiotic to get rid of it. If you go into the doctor they can quickly diagnose what kind of infection you have (yeast or otherwise).
Ways to avoid it:
Sometimes you'll get one no matter what, but here are a few things that help. Avoid wearing wet bathing suits, etc. for extended periods of time. Panty hose and other close fitting clothing hold moisture to your body. Wear cotton underwear whenever possible.
Carmeli also says:
There was a suggestion on the board about drinking cranberry juice at least twice a week. I've started doing that coz i sometimes have this vaginal irritation that isn't a yeast infection and was looking for a simple remedy. It works fine for me, i haven't had the "itchies" for 2 weeks now. Then of course there is the "eat yogurt" solution. I don't eat yogurt regularly so I really have no feel for this suggestion. For those who work out, getting out of those sweaty clothes ASAP is mandatory! Also, it has helped me to "go commando" when i sleep (makes the decision to BD easier too...).
Carmeli also says:
Cycle buddies are posters on the TTC BB who are expecting AF at approximately the same date. They can update each other on symptoms, support each other when some positive vibes are needed, take HPT tests together (called testing parties), and cheer each other on. The same goes for posters who are expecting ovulation at the same date.