Anxiety Returning to Cycles Postpartum

Question

I am eight months postpartum and still breastfeeding my child although we supplement with formula and she eats solid foods twice daily.
Lately, I’ve been having some weird symptoms–anxiety, headaches, trouble sleeping, weight fluctuations etc. I’ve implemented many things to reduce stress in my life and I’m still experiencing these symptoms. I’ve gone to my doctor who says it’s all “hormonal” because I am postpartum. She says that weaning my child will fix it. I’m considering weaning her over the next month to see if this will help. My doctor is not familiar with NFP, so my fertility observations are not something she considers when evaluating me.

I have had four “typical” cycles since birth of baby. This month, I seem to have a never-ending cycle with lots of fertile signs. I use a fertility monitor also and it says I’ve had estrogen detected for over ten days and no “peak” detection.

My doctor says my thyroid levels are normal. Could this possibly be low progesterone or some sort of estrogen dominance? If it is a hormone issue, I would like to look into supplements, but I’m not even sure what tests to ask for. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Liz

Answer

Last Updated: September 12, 2022
Dear Liz,

There can be many different causes of anxiety. Sometimes it can be progesterone related and we might expect your cycles to be somewhat deficient in this hormone. Since you have had four cycles, did you notice any worsening of your anxiety in the premenstrual period? It might be amenable to progesterone supplementation without weaning.

A good form of progesterone to use in your situation would be progesterone cream used topically rubbed into your forearm. You need to use a good brand such as Progest by Emrita because some brands have no progesterone. If you are using NFP charting use the cream daily 3-12 days after your peak; otherwise day 18-27 of the cycle.

If your anxiety is not related to your cycle, I would try another means of treating it. Supplements you could use would be omega 3’s, stress tabs containing high dose B vitamins, magnesium, gaba and botanicals such as passionflower. You could use any of these while breastfeeding.

Mary Davenport, MD

Answered By:

Mary Davenport, MD, MS
Mary Davenport, MD, FACOG, an obstetrician/gynecologist from the Oakland Region of California, offers telehealth services over MyCatholicDoctor.com She graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed her residency at UC San Diego. Dr. Davenport is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and serves on the Advisory Board of the California Association of Natural Family Planning.

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