Test THEN Treat
There are tons of fertility supplements on the market today and they can be really effective, IF you are taking the right ones. But how do you know? What if your fertility challenge is the question of whether you're actually ovulating or not?
Rather than blindly spending money on supplements and treatments that may be addressing an issue that may or may not exist, or worse, throw otherwise balanced hormones out of whack...why not test, then treat?
A quick refresher: What does Proov do and why does it matter?
Proov tracks PdG, a progesterone metabolite found in urine. PdG levels are present after ovulation. So if you have positive Proov results, you have confirmed ovulation instead of predicting ovulation, like most Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK's) do with LH testing. If your PdG levels are low after testing with Proov, this could be an issue with getting pregnant, as confirming healthy ovulation is the first step in your fertility journey.
How Can I Tell if I've Ovulated?
There are a couple ways to know if you've successfully ovulated, but only one way to know if you've had a healthy ovulation. First, it’s possible to confirm ovulation by using basal body temperature tracking. After ovulation, there is a slight uptick in temperature, usually 0.5 - 1 degree F. This is a fine method if you are doing general cycle tracking and know your body well enough to trust the slight change in temperature. However, BBT aren't always the most precise since there are many factors that can lead to an uptick in temperature.
It’s also possible to confirm ovulation through blood testing, either via mail-in kit or a test at the doctor. This will show progesterone levels as a numeric value that is either above or below the threshold to confirm ovulation. While a blood test can provide useful information, it does not give you the full picture on whether or not you've had a healthy ovulation. Tracking PdG (progesterone metabolite) levels is the only way to know if you've confirmed successful ovulation because levels need to be positive for an extended amount of time in order to conceive.
Proov allows women to track PdG at home over multiple days. Proov tests work by measuring a urine metabolite of progesterone Pregnanediol Glucuronide (PdG), which has been shown to correlate the levels in blood. Tests are designed to go positive at 5 ug/ml of PdG in urine, which equates to about 10 ng/ml in blood - the widely accepted minimum threshold to confirm ovulation.
Treat: What do I do if I don’t have enough?
If your results are negative, don't panic! The great news about low PdG levels is that it’s highly treatable. There are many natural ways you can enhance levels, including things like simple diet changes, light exercise, or trying to control stress levels (hard, we know, but it can make a real difference!).
Seed Cycling is another approach to helping balance hormone levels naturally. The general premise is that you eat specific seeds during the different phases of your cycle to help support the star hormones depending on the phase you’re in. It may seem like hocus pocus, but both co-founders Amy and Ellen seed cycle and it has led to more manageable periods, less headaches and improved mood for them both.
There are also numerous over-the-counter supplements like Premama, Pink Stork, Fertilaid, and more that claim to aid in conception by balancing hormones. However, the term “balance hormones” is broad. And if you don’t know which hormone is out of balance, it is hard to choose the right supplement.
For example, some supplements contain vitex or chasteberry. This herb has been shown to improve PdG levels if they are low. But if levels are not low, women have reported vitex-containing products to cause them to have irregular cycles. Other supplements can contain diindolylmethane (DIM), which has been shown to reduce estrogen. But if high estrogen is not your problem, it could cause more damage than good. All the more reason to test, then treat!
Finally, we recommend checking out Dr. Jolene Brighton’s Period Repair Kit, which has some great tools for helping balance hormones to increase energy, mood, and libido. If over the counter supplements and lifestyle changes aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to talk to your doctor about prescription supplements.
The great news is that there’s a lot out there that can help with hormone balance. But the key to finding the right solution is knowing the problem first. Which is why we encourage you to test, then treat to make sure the steps you are taking will be most effective in progressing you along in your fertility journey.