Time did not fly

A year ago today I was running the Boston Marathon. I was super fit. I was happy. I was confident. Thinking back to this day a year ago, it does NOT feel like yesterday. It feels like that was an eternity ago. I don’t even recognize who I was back then. I feel different in every possible way.

When months and months went by sans period after going off BCPs, a lot of people (my Mom, Google, my acupuncturist, my new IF therapist, etc) suggested it was because I was currently/had been working out too much and needed to gain weight.

At my thinnest during training I weighed 118 pounds. Now, a year later, I weigh 135. (And I feel every pound I’ve gained….the love handles and bigger breasts….all the stuff you’re supposed to bemoan about pregnancy. Oh well.) I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’ve had quite an evolution with working out, even since I started this blog. I still run for endorphins and to de-stress and so I can eat two cheeseburgers in one weekend if I want to (like I did this weekend!), but I’m muuuuuuch less Type A about it. Now, if I miss a day or don’t feel like working out, I don’t, um, sweat it. Instead of feeling like a run has to be 5 miles long to “count,” I am now totally fine running for 15 or 20 minutes with my hubs or by myself. I haven’t been this lax about working out since I was in college.

It’s hard to know what those years of intense exercise have “done” to me fertility-wise because I was taking BCPs and getting regular periods the whole time. By the time I was off the pill, my exercise had gone down to running five or six days a week and lifting a few times a week. A lot more than the average person, but not much for me.

Dr. K, who hubs and I finally meet with tomorrow afternoon (cue the dropping-stomach and nerves), actually specializes in eating disorders and extreme exercise. I have never had an eating disorder. But I think if you do endurance events (over and over again) like I have, that counts as extreme exercise, so I welcome her opinions and thoughts about how my treatment might need to be tweaked given my history.

I’ve been doing a lot of research online (yes, always working toward my Google PhD) and some women who have extreme exercise in their pasts also have chronically low LH levels. I don’t know if I have this, but I do know my LH has never been high enough to trigger a positive OPK, even back in October when I “borderline” ovulated. For that reason, some REs give these women a FSH + LH injectable (like Menopur), instead of a straight-up FSH inject (like Gonal-F). I definitely want to hear her thoughts on that.

Blaming my infertility on running and triathlons hurts because there’s nothing I can do to take them back. But, there is something oddly appealing about being able to say, “Okay, THIS is why I’m going through this.” Does that make any sense? Those experiences were wonderful and made me who I am today, so I bristle at the thought of regretting them. On the other hand: I truly do regret them. They were ways to fill my time while I was waiting for hubs to be ready to have kids. They were not necessary.

On Friday afternoon I heard about some news about a woman who is an Olympian and actually came in THIRD PLACE at the Boston Marathon a year ago today. I am pretty much obsessed with her and have been for a while. She’s beautiful, down-to-earth, intelligent, and SMOKING FAST. She also was skeletor thin, had no body fat and ran 120+miles/week. She took time off her running career in September to start a family….and she’s already four-months pregnant. I just….kind of can’t believe that if I over-exercised and it’s the whole reason I can’t ovulate, that this person who runs for a LIVING, and has been beating up her body with exercise since she was a middle-schooler, could get pregnant within a few months of trying.

Every one is different. The body is a mysterious thing. Yada yada yada.

What’s wrong with me? If running and exercise didn’t do this to me, what did? Why do I even have to know? What does it matter?

Please fix me, Dr. K.



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22 responses to “Time did not fly

  1. Jin

    My docs were concerned about me and dancing as to why they thought my estrogen levels were a little lower than normal. While on bcp, I was taking dance classes at least 3 nights a week (not including the hours put in at home) and had a whole bunch of rehearsals over the weekend for nearly a year. After I got off bcp, it went down to maybe once or twice a week every few months, but they were still concerned. Not sure if there’s lasting effects or whatnot. Good luck with your appointment and let us know how it goes!

  2. Tarah

    Don’t blame it on your running or your fitness level, I do believe everyone is different and you shouldn’t have to regret your running. I hope your appointment revels some great options and gives you some new hope! 🙂


  3. I was never quite fast enough for Boston (missed qual time by 10 minutes), but I’ve run 2 marathons and a bunch of halves and other 10+ mile races, and I’m starting to think that all of that training (it’s been almost 3 years since my last full) made my body cut back on the hormones it produces (my levels are low for estrogen and progesterone, but interestingly, I do get a nice LH surge…). I loved running like that, so I hate to blame IF on running, but like you, I’m searching for a reason. I am going to be VERY interested in what the “extreme exercise” doc tells you!!!

  4. Secret Sloper

    I’m so sorry you’ve reached this shitiversary. It sucks. I’m hoping and praying that the next year of TTC brings you that baby you so deserve.

    There’s no way to know what your body/fertility would be like if you hadn’t done such endurance training. I’ve been a lazy slug all my life, and only started moderately exercising three years ago. I get an LH surge every month. And yet…here we both are, 1 year + in and nothing to show for it.

    Maybe you would have been more fertile. Maybe you wouldn’t have. You just don’t know. But you *do* know that you loved running and the work you put your body through. And that’s important.

  5. It’s really difficult for me to blame infertility on lifestyle choices. For me, it’s the same thing as people blaming infertility on stress. There are millions of women in stressful situations who get pregnant every day. Likewise, people who smoke, drink, and do drugs get pregnant. People who exercise get pregnant. People who are extremely over or underweight get pregnant. I know that everyone is different, but it just have a hard time generalizing about those things. Sometimes, we never get a true explanation as to why these things happen (unless there is a specific medical disorder behind it). You shouldn’t regret the time you spent running. It’s something that you love to do and it makes you happy. So in that way, it should help you to have a baby if stress levels have anything to do with pregnancy, right? See what I mean? 🙂 You didn’t do this to yourself, and I truly believe that running and doing what you love didn’t do this to you, either. But that’s just my opinion! I’d be interested in hearing what the doctor says.


  6. Al

    UGH, the 1 year TTC anniversary SUCKS. Big time.

    I know you want to have something to blame our IF on, we all do, but I don’t think you can definitively blame it on your past exercise. There’s no way to know if it was or wasn’t a factor.
    From what I’ve read, in order to conceive a woman needs to be at a healthy weight, which you are. I’ll be interested to hear what the doc says at your consult especially given her specialty.

    Here’s hoping that this time next year things look very, very different.

  7. it stinks that we never really know what lifestyle choices affect(ed) our fertility. don’t bedgrudge your running, bc it sounds like you loved every minute of it. and now that you’ve toned it down and are only moderately exercising, i hope it somehow equates to a baby for you. but that would mean that the running did somehow affect you, which is not what i mean either … but what i DO mean, is that you’re seeing this dr, and i hope HE can figure it out for you!

    i’ve toned down my exercise since ttc, and i obviously do not have a baby yet, so i wonder what the heck the point of it was. i used to run (though never marathons – sounds tOo *painful*), and now only do yoga. one dr i saw thought the overexercising was doing my fertility in, but i 100% don’t think that was the case bc i was only exercising 4-5 times a week for an hour at most. that is not overexercising in my dictionary, so i ditched him (the doc) but lessened up anyways.

    i’m very interested to hear what dr K tells you, so keep us posted!

  8. Sweet friend, you are going to DRIVE YOURSELF CRAZY asking why’s and what if’s! I know it is natural to do, but you have to try not to! Unfortunately, some things can’t be explained. I know this is not a very encouraging comment, but I love you and don’t want you to torture yourself. This is NOT your Fault at all!!!!!

  9. I agree with everyone, there’s no way to know if the running did this…so you shouldn’t even go there. Like you said, those accomplishments made you who you are today…and you should never regret them!! Maybe in some way they made you strong enough to endure the battle of IF. I do know what you mean about finding some comfort in knowing why all of this is happening, but I don’t know if anything with IF is ever that clear. Which totally sucks!!!

    I’m super hopeful for your appointment tomorrow though, and I hope Dr. K rocks it!! Will be thinking of you and anxiously awaiting an update!

  10. I honestly don’t believe that your past exercise has ANYTHING to do with what’s happened to you, but I certainly understand the fear– I felt the same way about my LACK of exercise and my weight.

    BTW, my DH is in Boston right now, at the Red Sox game. I’m jealous that he’s up there celebrating Patriot’s Day without me– I’ve never been but he’s often talked about how much fun it is. The game will let out right around the time the marathon is finishing and I think he’ll watch for a while. I, on the other hand, am stuck at work while he enjoys a 5 day vacation! Boo!

    Anxiously waiting for your update about your appointment with Dr. K tomorrow– best of luck!

  11. You’re definitely stuck with two craptastic choices. Either you brought it on yourself, in which case you at least have the comfort of an answer, or it’s unrelated, in which case you just get to feel bad about being broken in some other way. (Not that I think you’re broken, but that’s how I tend to think of myself.) UGG! I hope Dr. K can make some sense out of all this!

  12. I personally find it hard to believe that you brought this on yourself (through too much exercise). But like you said, it would be nice to have a reason. I’m really excited for you to get to meet the doctor. Good luck tomorrow!

  13. Jen

    I’ll be very interested also to hear what they say about your exercise history. I have also been very active throughout my life, but I wouldn’t compare what I do to running a marathon in any way. I used to routinely run 6 miles at time once per week, but that is the farthest. I did a lot of walking, pilates, weights, etc. I worked out almost every day, but nothing extreme. I weighed about 112-114 when I met with my RE and she immediately told me to gain weight. She said in her experience, thin women had more issues with thin lining. However, my skinnier than me sister got KU on the first try, so I find that hard to believe.

    I really doubt all your training did it; I wouldn’t feel bad about that!

  14. I really hope your meeting with Dr. K goes well. I’m interested to hear what she has to say about infertility and your exercise habits. Sending you good thoughts.

  15. hollytraveling

    I don’t think you should be so quick to blame exercise. A lot of women who have fertility issues, like anovulation, start out with normal menstrual cycles and the problems don’t present until they hit their 20s.

    It’s possible your body had these issues to start, but they didn’t develop until later, and since you were on the pill, like you said, you didn’t notice. It will be really interesting, though, to hear what Dr. K says, since she has so much experience.

    Oh, and we’re like weight gain twins. When Blue and I started this journey 14 months ago I was around 120. I am now mid 130s and rocking a mini-muffin top.

  16. Stop second guessing your decisions, it’ll make you nutso! You were healthy and active. You had a hobby that millions of people have and get pregnant. You didn’t do anything wrong.

    So sorry 😦

  17. Egg, I think all of us IF girls regret something because we think THAT is the thing that caused this horrible situation. The reality is that there were probably a lot of little different things (most out of our control, most we were born with) which contributed. There was no “IT.”

    I am certainly not fit and just reading this I think it is so unfair that someone like yourself, who is fit and goal-oriented and determined, should be in the same boat as a chunkster like me. (OK – I’m not so chunky, but I abhor exercise and can only get motivated to run if I’m being chased in a threatening manner). Can I just say how impressed DH was when I told him about you being in the BM? I had no idea the accomplishment, but I got an earful about qualifiers and such for about 20 minutes.

  18. We could kill ourselves looking for answers – I do it to myself all the time. This isn’t something you did to yourself though, you have to believe that.

    Hopefully the new doctor will be able to help you find solutions…

  19. I read several blogs a day but this particular post keeps coming up in my thoughts. Of all the sad, heart-wrenching entries I come across this one makes me feel so sad. I am sorry that you regret your past acomplishments. I hope that you don’t mean what you say. There are so many reasons women (and men) struggle with infertility and blaming yourself is futile. Its not like you were smoking crack and three packs of cigs a day, you were an endurance athlete!
    I don’t believe that another person should tell you how you should feel, as all feelings are valid . But I am struck by your regret. I think this really hits home for me because running helps to define me. It is as important to me as friendships and it sounds like it is for you too. Please, don’t blame yourself, don’t regret your incredible acomplishments.
    I wish you all the best at your next appointment, I hope you find answers.

  20. zully

    My friend, I don’t think you should regret what you did in the pass. That was your lifestyle and I really don’t see anything wrong with it. I know plenty of people that run and have beautiful families. Please don’t do this to yourself, it’s going to drive you crazy. Today is going to be a good day and your appt is going to go really well. HUGE HUG!

  21. Sigh, we so often want to find out WHY something happened..find someone to blame…but this still doesn’t solve the situation. When we were TTCing for the first one, all the drs told me that my running was the problem and I gained 6-10 lbs (I didn’t weigh regularly) to see if that would help and cut back on running. I truly believe that running/endurance sports have nothing to do with this and that it’s the low hanging fruit that doctors can point to. You never know, this may have happened regardless of your exercise. My sister, who does not exercise, does not ovulate either. They don’t know why. Her doctors actually tell her that she needs to loose weight (150 lb 5’8″ is not overweight in my book, especially given that she has a thicker build). I hope the doc can help.

  22. The What Ifs are brutal. I’m sorry yesterday was such a reminder of the person you were a year ago and the sadness that infertility has brought into your life. I KNOW Dr. K will have a plan for you and I really hope the consult went well today. Can’t wait to hear about it! Such good news about Scrappy and hopefully you will be cycling and getting KU very soon!

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