*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am just a normal personal struggling with infertility trying to share experiences in hopes it may help another momma to be*
When you are 24 years old the last thing you think about is not being able to get pregnant. You have spent the last “insert amount of years here” trying to NOT get pregnant. So surely now, being married, owning your own home, having stable jobs, the time is RIGHT. But then month after month it’s just not happening. You are googling everything. Buying every type of ovulation kit, cutting caffeine out, adding in more greens, adding in more this, cutting out that. But oh yeah, don’t stress. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Once I had reached my wits end, I knew it was time to see a doctor. As I stated in my first post, I was lost. I didn’t know where to start.
I googled “fertility specialists SWFL” and was pleased to find multiple in my area. After doing some research I narrowed my options down to two. I studied both doctors meticulously; reading Google reviews, forum reviews, and any other information I could get my hands on. I finally made my choice and called them. Since it was early December, I was prepared to wait until mid-January for an appointment, but to my surprise they had an opening the next day. They sent me for a screening to ensure my fallopian tubes were not blocked or obstructed, as well as blood work. Once these all came back normal I met with the doctor the following week and he advised that we move forward with an IUI. For those that do not know an IUI is an acronym for Intrauterine Insemination. This is where the doctor injects the partner’s sperm into a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of this is to increase the number of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes and therefore increases the chance of fertilization (American Pregnancy Association, 2017).
This is where I feel I was failed, and where I want to shine some light on the topic to help guide others. I was not given any other options before the IUI and I trusted that my doctor had my best interests in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do not blame the specialist, he was just doing his job. This leads me to my first piece of advice. Remember that while Doctor’s are the experts on certain subjects, you do not have to take their recommendations and it is important to do research on your other options before you commit to a treatment that you are unsure of. For reference each round of an IUI costs roughly $1,000 with only a 20% chance of success.
Second, I highly recommend that you see your normal OBGYN, before going straight to a specialist. Your doctor will most likely see if there is a hormone imbalance or any other causes that could be preventing you from becoming pregnant (thyroid, PCOS, etc.). Once they have ruled these issues out, they may advise that you try taking oral medications such as Clomid and Femara.
Third, ask questions! Ask until you have the answers memorized; ask until you are blue in the face! Never feel as though you are bothering the doctor, you are paying them boatloads of money, and the least they can do is explain what they think is wrong and what each procedure consists of. My specialist had ordered blood work, what he was testing for I have no idea. He never explained the process of the IUI’s in detail. He was not forthcoming with information and sadly I did not ask. I look back at my procedures and question a lot of things, because he simply NEVER explained anything. This is where the bulk of my frustration comes from.
Once we began opening up about our struggles, we were recommended by a friend to see her doctor. So we did. I will get into the details about that in another post, but this doctor asked if my husband had been checked, and I said yes. She asked for his results. She seemed dumbfounded to find out that I was never given a copy of his test results. Her next question was if Doctor so-and-so had conducted the test, to which my answer again was “no.” Confused, she stated that this specific Doctor was the only in our area that conducted these tests and she’s not sure how we had the tests done if we never saw them. Of course, I became overwhelmed with frustration and anger. In an effort to cope I put my feelings aside and moved forward. She gave us the contact information for a Urologist and my husband met with him. He referred Juan to the Fertility Specialist in town that does the necessary tests. Juan returned to the Urologist for the results, which were good.
While the fact that Juan had to go to a Urologist before being referred to the fertility specialist seems benign, I want to emphasize that it’s important to use all your resources and ask questions. While fertility was not his specialty, the Urologist suggested something we never would have thought of. He suggested going to a university that has a medical research center. He told us that he had studied at one in Florida and knows they take patients. Since they are a research facility, they experiment with things such as “super sperm” or “super eggs” to help individuals become pregnant. While we have not followed up on this route yet, it is good to know that it still exists.
When it comes to our experience with the initial specialist, hindsight’s 20/20. I see people who post photos of paperwork they received with their embryos with stats and gender. We never got that. We were never even informed verbally about this information. I feel we were failed, we were failed in so many ways but I know that if I could do it all again, I would ask more questions. I wish I would have known the questions to ask. I wish I would have known the things I know now. I look back and wonder; what blood test did he run? Why didn’t my IUI’s work? Did I have any strong embryos? Was my thyroid out of whack?
Remember, if you are struggling with fertility issues and you don’t know what to do, or you are seeing a doctor and the answers you are hearing aren’t what you want to hear; there ARE MORE OPTIONS! DO NOT SETTLE. I’m sure there are multiple doctors in your area and they may all have different methods, and run different tests. Meet with them and hear them out. Don’t put all your trust in the first doctor you meet, fork over thousands of dollars, and go into debt, like we did.