Can a Little Proactivity help Prevent Loss?
This past Sunday, Proov founder and infertility veteran Amy Beckley was catching up on some TV and watched an old scene from the series This is Us that really hit home. The episode is from 2017 (I know, I know, we’re really behind), so don’t worry, no spoiler alerts!
Character Kate, a 37-year-old obese woman, becomes pregnant and visits her doctor. She raises concerns about her health and tells her doctor she doesn’t think she should be pregnant because she is too overweight and too old to carry a pregnancy full-term. The doctor does an ultrasound, says everything looks fine, tells her not to worry, and leads her to the door.
A few short weeks later, Kate loses her pregnancy at 10 weeks. Was her health the reason? Or the fact that her doctor didn’t conduct further testing based on her concerns? While 70% of miscarriages are due to genetic factors and are thus unpreventable, it was frustrating that Kate was refused further testing, despite her concerns. When it comes to fertility and certainly in the case of both Kate’s story and Amy’s real life experience, healthcare is often reactive. Many times, women don’t get tested or treated until they have a documented history of miscarriage or infertility. What if Kate’s loss could have been prevented? What if the outcome could have been different?
Reactive healthcare is the root of this character’s misfortune. Health care today seems to be a reactive response after something has gone wrong, rather than exploring ways to prevent something from going wrong in the first place. In terms of fertility, there are preventive measures you can take to help make sure your pregnancy has the best chance of success. Maybe the scene should have gone a little like this...
Kate: I'm 37 and obese, I'm not suppose to be pregnant.
Doctor: Don't worry, everything looks great on the ultrasound.
Kate: That is great, but since I am older and my weight is above average, I know I am at risk of losing this pregnancy. This pregnancy is a miracle and I want to do everything I can to make sure I can support it. Since I am prone to hormone imbalances, which can lead to pregnancy loss, would you please test my thyroid, progesterone and vitamin D levels to make sure they are where they need to be?
Doctor: Absolutely Kate, I'm happy to do this testing because you are right, if hormones are imbalanced, that is something we can fix and prevent a possible loss. But I also want you to know that miscarriage can also be caused by genetic issues, which can not be prevented. So, with this testing, if there is something wrong that we can easily fix, we will do it, but I can't ever guarantee a miscarriage won't happen.
While this may have been a better approach to checking Kate’s pregnancy, it is unfair to blame the doctor or Kate for the outcome. Unfortunately, the health care system is flawed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do things to improve your experience and potentially your outcome. Educating yourself what is important to consider when it comes to fertility and on what questions to ask can sometimes make all the difference. It certainly did for Amy and it may have for Kate, as well, had she been more forceful in demanding testing.
Say Yes to Being Proactive
This October, let's not just raise awareness of miscarriage and infant loss, but let’s talk with our providers and our friends about miscarriage prevention. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss, what if we could change that statistic to 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 simply by adding some proactive testing? This starts with the patient. If we want to reduce our risk, we need to be proactive - to educate ourselves, know what questions to ask, and when needed, demand additional testing.
Progesterone is 100% essential for a healthy pregnancy. Amy invented Proov to empower women with the ability to track progesterone at home. Proov results allow women understand their progesterone levels so they can ask better questions and advocate for themselves when treatment may be necessary.
So as October ends, we honor all the babies that have been lost, support their incredibly strong mamas, and stand together to help women better understand their bodies so they can be as proactive as possible during their fertility journeys.