FSH? I’m going to say that most of you who are reading this have NO CLUE what FSH means. That’s okay. You are not alone. Majority of women of all age groups have no idea what FSH means.
Side note- if you have gone through fertility treatments, you most likely know what this lovely three-letter word stands for and the importance of it. Sending a HUGE hug to all of you who have gone or are actively going through fertility treatments.
Okay, Bridget. Get on with it already. What does FSH stand for, and why do I need to know about it? Now that I have you on the edge of your seats…
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)- is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the pituitary gland in the body. For women, it is the main hormone involved in producing mature eggs in the ovaries.
Why is this important? Well, for starters, if FSH levels are too high or too low, it can lead to fertility issues which can prevent conception from happening aka pregnancy.
High levels of FSH in women is a sign of poor ovarian function, polycystic ovary syndrome or menopause. All of these conditions will impact your fertility negatively. Lucky me, I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). And yes, my husband and I took a ride on the infertility train at Main Line Fertility.
Low levels of FSH can indicate the eggs are not being produced adequately or the pituitary gland is not functioning correctly.
We check a women's FSH level on day 3 of her cycle to get an indication of how hard her body is working at the beginning of her cycle to produce a mature follicle. A woman needs to produce a mature follicle each month, to ovulate that mature follicle, have it join with her partner's sperm at the correct time in hopes to achieve pregnancy.
If you would like to get your FSH level evaluated you would want to get blood drawn on day 3 of your cycle. But, make sure you are not on a form of birth control, or it will give you false results.
An FSH level of <10 is considered normal.
em-pow-er-ment: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
The word empowerment holds a different meaning for every one of us. Through our lifetime, there have been life events that have taken place that has made every one of us feel empowered as women.
I remember being in my late twenties, fresh out of a relationship to a guy that I thought at the time was “Mr. Forever”- boy am I glad I was wrong about that! Sorry, Mr. NOT Forever, but my husband is my soul mate, my true Mr. Forever.
I remember feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and downright alone when that relationship ended. I did what all women do; I kept asking myself, “what is wrong with me-why can’t I find MY Mr. Right, and not continue to find my Mr. Right Now?” But, what took precedence over the feeling of not finding Mr. Right, was the longing desire to start a family of my own.
I already had the daunting diagnosis of PCOS lingering over me, and now I was in my late twenties, and SINGLE. In this moment of time- I feared I would never have children of my own. My family and friends looked at me like I was crazy when I expressed my feelings of fear. But, they didn’t have the profession as a fertility nurse-I did & still do. They have never sat across from a woman with teary-filled eyes because she too chose to wait for Mr. Right, but her Mr. Right didn’t come along until her late thirties and trying to start a family in a women’s late thirties comes with many challenges.
So, I did the single most empowering thing I have ever done before in my life. In my most vulnerable state, I chose to decide for my future self to freeze my eggs.
I remember waking up from anesthesia after my egg retrieval and feeling liberated. I, a twenty-seven-year-old woman, proactively deciding to take control of her very own future. Wow-who was I becoming?! But, I knew deep down inside who I was becoming. I was becoming the woman I always knew I could become. The strong, confident, career-oriented, SINGLE women who just made the smartest decision for her future family.
I left the fertility office that day knowing I would be a mother one day. I knew that because I had eighteen mature eggs frozen that had great potential to become one of my children one day.
I felt EMPOWERED in a way I have never felt before.
I just needed to find my Mr. Right. Crazy enough- my Mr. Right came walking back into my life a few months after my egg freezing procedure.
You said what...biological clock?
I truly believe if there is one thing a woman needs to know when it comes to her fertility, it’s the biological clock.
Today, women are continuing their education by returning to grad school. Climbing the corporate ladder at record speeds and successfully competing with many men in the work field- you go girl! Or struggling to find love in this crazy world of online swipes to the right-who knew technology would find its way into our love life too.
All of these life events take TIME.
Unfortunately, our biological clocks have not hit the reset button to keep up with today’s reality. No matter how active and healthy you may be, your age and your fertility are directly correlated. And that is where egg freezing comes in-science has just become your new best friend!
As you age, the quantity and quality of your healthy eggs decline, impacting your chance of conception monthly. The key factor to egg freezing is YOUNGER is BETTER; the younger you freeze your eggs, the better your odds are of a successful pregnancy later.
Oocyte Cryopreservation or egg freezing is the process of extracting, freezing, and storing of a woman’s eggs. Most importantly, egg freezing allows a woman to halt the ticking of her biological clock and bank her eggs for future use.
Egg freezing follows the same fertility protocol as in vitro fertilization (IVF), up to the point of egg retrieval. Once the eggs are retrieved, an IVF patient will proceed directly to the egg fertilization process, while an egg freeze patient will freeze and bank her eggs for future use.
Let’s keep it simple! Egg freezing follows these four steps:
1. Stimulation- hormone injections stimulate follicles to produce multiple mature eggs.
2. Extraction- eggs are extracted from the ovaries via an ultrasound-guided needle.
3. Freeze- vitrification flash-freezes eggs into glass-like cells.
4. Store- eggs are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks at -196 degree Celsius.
If you’re like most women, you’re probably thinking, why would I ever need to freeze my eggs to halt the ticking of my biological clock? Well, for starters, most women living in the 21st century, the ticking of their biological clock does not fit their present-day commitments they have planned for themselves. But, with the option to freeze their eggs, women can focus on their present-day commitments without the fear of potential regrets down the road. It’s all about having options ladies, options, option, options!
And what is this biological clock I’m talking about?!? Stay tuned my friend, that’s up next!
I've been there. I was the twenty-seven-year-old girl, fresh out of a relationship, questioning to herself, will I ever meet Mr. Right? PANIC.
I've been there. I was the twenty-seven-year-old girl who longed to have a child of her own. Who was diagnosed with a fertility/endocrine disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at an early age, which left me wondering in my early adult years-will I ever become a mother? FEAR.
I've been there. I was the twenty-seven-year-old girl who started to question all of the decisions she had made up until that point. "What if" became my brains favorite two words. FAILURE.
But, I became the twenty-seven-year-old girl who decided to turn her feelings of panic, fear, and failure into EMPOWERMENT. The day I chose to freeze my eggs, is the day I decided to live my best life FOR ME.
From one empowered women to the next-go on and live YOUR best life!
Hey-it’s me again! I’m back and better than ever. At least that’s what I think. I went MIA for a little while. Come on now; don’t be mad, we all do it. Are you at all curious as to where I have been? Well, I went on my journey to motherhood; one that leads me to my beautiful baby girl, Kinsley. She couldn’t be any more perfect. I know, I'm biased. Cut me a break though, aren’t all moms?!
As I sat in my hospital bed, holding my baby girl, looking at my husband in a way I have never looked at him before, I felt an overwhelming feeling of appreciation come over me.
Appreciation for my degree in nursing that lead me to my dream job as a fertility nurse at Main Line Fertility.
Appreciation for the knowledge that I have gained about fertility since working at Main Line Fertility.
Appreciation for the physician I work for, Dr. Michael Glassner, for being one of my biggest supporters while my husband and I joined the infertility train along with thousands of other couples trying to conceive.
And, as I sat there, my feelings of appreciation turned into an overwhelming sense of feeling fortunate.
I’m fortunate because I'm educated on a topic where many women are not, and should be. What I mean by that is, many women don’t even know the basics of fertility. I’ll admit it-I didn’t. It wasn’t until I worked in a fertility center that I truly understood how complex conceiving a child is, and how lucky couples are if they don’t have any issues conceiving in this day in age.
So, as I sat there, staring into my baby girls eyes, I made a promise to her. I made a promise that I will make a difference in honor of her.
My mission is to educate women about fertility. I want to empower as many women as I can to help them make the best choices today which will allow them to have the best options tomorrow.
Baby girl...this is for you!
Bridget is best known as a fertility nurse at Main Line Fertility.