And this is exactly why it is so important to do thorough research if you are going to self-diagnose.
(Guess who didn’t?)
I started taking ground flaxseed mixed in with my morning fruit and yoghurt on 15th April (cd6) after reading about studies here that found it reduced the incidence of miscarriage.
I skimmed the headlines and made an assumption that it was the omega 3 in flaxseed that was so beneficial. For years flaxseed has been used as a fantastic source of omega 3, which I was aware of.
What I didn’t know is that flaxseed is also a phytoestrogen.
This means that it mimics the action of oestrogen in the body. It is so similar in fact, that lignan (the phytoestrogen in flaxseed) binds to our own oestrogen receptors thereby blocking the action of our own oestrogen.
Now there are two things that can happen:
1) If you have a cycle that has too much oestrogen, flaxseed might be beneficial because it balances out your hormones.
2) If you have a cycle that has the correct amount (or less than optimal) amount of oestrogen, your cycle will be deficient.
And an oestrogen deficiency means no ovulation.
I have had ovulation pain really badly this month, for five days in a row. I got my first ewcm on cycle day 7 (the day after I started flaxseed), but it then dried up.
I had two mornings where I thought I was seeing the start of a surge on my opks, but it tailed off to nothing later in the day:
The day I finally got a positive opk reading (cycle day 17), I had skipped the flaxseed for breakfast because I went out with my son for croissants instead.
Today (day 18) I have woken up with no ovulation pain at all. My temperature has not risen this morning but I think I have ovulated simply because the pain has gone.
My cycle is usually as regular as clockwork. Even after each one of my miscarriages and chemical pregnancies I still had an astonishing 28 day cycle, with an ovulation around day 14.
In 25 years of periods I’ve never had irregular bleeding, so the fact that I am ovulating (at least) 4 days late this month, with ovulation pain for five days in a row, says to me that the flaxseed phytoestrogens were stopping my own oestrogens from working at a crucial time. My body was trying to ovulate, but the phytoestrogens stopped it.
I’m very worried about my egg this month being no good, having been kept in the follicle for those extra days, so even if I were to get pregnant, I wonder if it would it result in a miscarriage anyway.
And as you can imagine, the flaxseed is now going in the bin!