MTHFR & Pregnancy

An example of how one creative medical worker helped us welcome our baby girl into our family: 

In the beginning I didn’t think miscarriages happened to people “like me”. I was healthy, ate well, exercised and was only slightly on the “overweight” side of the BMI. I had never been on the pill or any kind of contraceptive. I knew the statistics – around 1 in 5 pregnancies don’t make it for some reason or another, but I figured that I would be ok. We started trying a few months after we were married and bam! It happened the second month! I’ll never forget the feeling of euphoria as the line turned pink.

Seven and a half weeks later, I started bleeding. An HCG blood test confirmed that it was a miscarriage. We were devastated – but my OB was reassuring. “It’s just a fluke. You are young and healthy. It just takes your body time to get ready”. After tears and hugs and wine and several stages of grief, we accepted it and moved on – we were determined to welcome a baby to our family.

Then it happened again. All of it. We miscarried at exactly the same gestational age – to the day. Again the OB said, “Oh don’t worry – we don’t usually start testing you until you’ve had at least three miscarriages – mainly because insurance doesn’t cover a lot of the tests until you’ve had three”.

Three? No way that I was going to just go for it again without looking for a root cause. I figured that I had to wait a month or so anyway so it was perfect time to dig into potential causes. I convinced her to run some tests, but nothing came back suspicious. She made it clear to me that she wasn’t worried about this and I just needed to try again. She brushed me off. I made enough of a fuss to get a referral to a specialist which ended up being a huge waste of time. He wanted to put me on his “one size fits all” list of tests and when I asked probing questions about what he was specifically looking for (I’m a data scientist – I want to know stuff!) he shut me down and said “you should just let me help you”. It didn’t feel right. He seemed like he was trying to take advantage of my situation.  I finally decided that I needed a new OB. No one was helping me.

On a friend’s referral for an unrelated issue, I decided to see a naturopath for the first time. During the initial visit, my miscarriage history came up. She asked if I wanted to dig into potential causes along with my initial issue.

Ding ding ding!

We tested for everything – coagulant issues, full metabolic panel, hormonal changes during my cycle, and finally, she suggested genetic testing. Everything came back normal except for the genetic test. The COMT and MTHFR genes showed a single mutation for each that could contribute to the miscarriages. Holy cow – I’m a mutant with a really crappy super power: my body doesn’t process folate from food!

I began taking a more bio-available form of folate, a B complex for absorbtion, and started taking a prenatal vitamin with DHA. We became pregnant again shortly thereafter. As the 7.5 week mark approached, I became more and more anxious. Everything was fine! Then we made it to the second trimester, then half way and then boom; our baby girl was born happy and healthy.

It was shocking to find out that these types of tests exist and was very interesting that none of my specialists or my old OB even had this test on the radar for me. I feel very lucky to have found the naturopath when I did and extremely lucky that it was as simple a fix as changing my vitamins! My new OB is fantastic and mentioned how lucky it was that I discovered the MTHFR issue as not many people consider it mainstream enough to try. While I know that miscarriages can happen for any of a thousand reasons, I feel that this fix was highly correlated with my successful pregnancy.

The moral of the story: First, if you have a doctor who doesn’t listen to you – get rid of them. Second – If you are having issues with miscarriages, my heart goes out to you. There could be 1000 different reasons that it is happening, but testing for genetic anomalies might provide a clue. Don’t give up!

More information on genetic testing as it relates to fertility:

Here is a great site for more background on MTHFR.

MTHFR and Pregnancy/Fertility

About the test for MTHFR

My favorite pre-natal vitamins

If you have a similar story – please share!

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