Monday, July 12, 2010

Overweight Woman Trying To Conceive Has Irregular Periods And Multiple Miscarriages


Hi Dr. Ramirez,

I read your blog and I love it! I learned a lot reading all your archives, so I wanted to come to you for advice about my situation.

I am 24 years old and my husband is 26. When I was 21, I was told that I have problems ovulating because my cycles were just a week of spotting after 2-6 months of nothing. My OB/GYN says that I don't ovulate due to my obesity, so I have never had any tests to check for PCOS or anything else. I am working on losing weight, but it has been a slow process. I do menstruate when given progesterone supplements, typically within hours of finishing my 10th day of 200 mg Prometrium. I also have hypothyroidism (and a strong family history of the same), but it is under control with 50 mcg levothyroxine; my most recent TSH, in January, was 1.7. I also have a family history of lupus, but do not have lupus myself.

In July 2008, I got pregnant while on Sprintec and miscarried at 5w2d, then went back on Sprintec. In October 2009, I got pregnant in my first month off Sprintec and miscarried at 5w4d, then went back on Sprintec. In February 2010, I got pregnant again in my first month off Sprintec but had a chemical pregnancy (bleeding started at 4w2d). Additionally, just from knowing my typical pregnancy symptoms in retrospect, I suspect that I might also have had a chemical while on Sprintec in April 2009, but I did not test because I was taking active pills three months at a time so I did not have a period to miss.

I have been taking OPKs twice daily (12 hours apart) since the chemical but have not ovulated; in fact, I rarely if ever see a second line at all on the tests. My OB/GYN said I can start Clomid at any time, but he is unwilling to do any testing regarding the losses until I have another miscarriage. My husband and I do not want to try to conceive again until we have tried to get an explanation for our losses.

I actually have a few questions. One, is there a reason I seem to ovulate only when I have recently been on hormonal birth control? Is it a down-regulation thing like women have before their IVF cycles? Two, is it possible that just taking Clomid might allow us to make it out of the first trimester? Three, in your opinion, is it time to move to an RE even though we have not yet been trying for a year (the only one in South Dakota is more than 200 miles away from our home)? And four, what sort of tests would an RE want us to do regarding my pregnancy losses?Thank you so very much for your time and consideration.

You provide a wonderful service, and if I'm ever in California I'd love to become a patient!


Hello B. from South Dakota,

Thank you for reading my blog and your kind comments. I hope the information was useful.

It certainly sounds like you have an ovulation problem, and Clomid would be an appropriate treatment. However, because you have had three miscarriages, you also have the problem of recurrent miscarriage. Both of these problems would fall into the infertility category and an infertility specialist would be the best person for you to see. That way, both problems can be managed, rather than just the ovulation problem as your current doctor suggests. Regarding your weight, I have had infertility patients who are overweight and still achieve a pregnancy. There are other issues that need to be addressed that take precedence over your weight.

Let me answer your questions specifically in order:

1. I find it interesting that you were able to ovulate on the birth control pill. I'm not sure that I can explain this. Most likely, the birth control pill caused an FSH/LH burst that led to ovulation. It usually suppresses FSH/LH discharge, which is how it works.

2. Clomid will certainly help you to ovulate, at the appropriate dosage, and may correct any hormonal problems if that is the cause of your miscarriages. I would not bet on it, however. Rather, I treat ALL my infertility patients will supplemental progesterone in order to help prevent any miscarriages caused by hormonal problems. In addition, with a patient with recurrent miscarriages like yourself, I would add low dose aspirin 81 mg per day beginning at the start of the menstrual cycle, medrol 16 mg per day beginning at the start of the cycle and tapering to 8 mg per day after ovulation, then stop with the pregnancy test and heparin 2000U injections twice per day beginning at the start of the cycle. Lovenox could be substituted for this as well. An RE is the most knowledgeable with this problem and protocol.

3. I answered the question regarding the RE above, but I would recommend that you see one because of the ovulatory dysfunction and recurrent miscarriages.

4. Recurrent miscarriage evaluation includes: Hysteroscopy, pelvic ultrasound, blood tests for antiphospholipid antibody (full screen), ANA, Lupus anticoagulant, Leidin factor V, RPR, Toxoplasmosis, Chromosomal analysis in you and your husband, hormone panel.

Good Luck,

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Comment: Thank you so much! I plan to see if my current clinic can run the panels, then follow up with a specialist.


  1. Dr. Ramirez - I love your blog! I get a lot of really great information from it so THANK YOU and keep it up!

  2. You're welcome and thank you for making my blog one of your FAVs on your excellent blog, Viva La Vida! Had to post this interesting question right away, after my vacation. I was worried that my followers would give up on me!
    EJR, MD



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