Part 1 of a two part Q&A all about our IVF journey
I’ve been asked the same few questions over and over again so I thought I’d share a little bit of our backstory and compile a quick q & a! If there’s anything I missed or something you really want to know about, just drop a quick email to me and I can add it on later!
A quick note, this ended up being a lot longer than I thought so I’ll be splitting it into two posts so it’s easier to read! Part 2 will be up in a day or two!
Our Journey into IVF: Testing, Treatment Cycles and IUI
How long did you guys try before seeing a doctor
We had been trying for about a good year and a half before we decided to seek out help. We had a lot going on during that time so I think I was in denial for most of it that things weren’t working out naturally. Between our house renovations, the stress of moving and Ara’s business trips, I always seemed to find an excuse for why it wasn’t happening. Finally we decided to see a doctor.
What kind of Doctor do you go see
I got a referral from my Gynecologist for a fertility specialist. Who is obviously also a doctor!
What kind of testing was involved
All sorts although nothing too invasive. Loads of blood tests that corresponded to different days of my cycle and a baseline ultrasound (that’s where they measure the lining of your uterus and ovaries, as well as count how many follicles you have. This helps determine what your *ovarian health is like. Aka do things look normal down there or is the problem related to your ovaries).
I also had to have an HSG test that would rule out any problems with my fallopian tubes. HSG sounds for Hysterosalpingogram. A dye is essentially injected through into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This lets you know if your tubes are blocked. Even if they are not blocked, sometimes there’s just a little debris inside that is enough to prevent pregnancy. My doctor mentioned that a lot of people end up pregnant after this test just because of that reason! My tubes were not blocked nor did we get pregnant after the procedure, unfortunately!
And don’t think the men are immune from testing as well. Ara went through a round of bloodwork as well, and also a full semen analysis. That’s when they make sure the sperm count and mobility are sufficient.
There are countless other tests as well but these are the general ones that we went through.
*Not sure what the exact word is but Ovarian health sounds good to me!
What ended up being your fertility issue
Get ready for the fun part- nothing! We have what is called ‘unexplained fertility’. Meaning, nothing is wrong as far as the Doctor can see.
After our ‘diagnosis’ we began our rounds of IUI. Which stands for Intrauterine Insemination. This process involved the doctor actually placing ‘washed’ sperm directly inside the woman’s uterus, bypassing the cervix. Some IUI cycles are natural, meaning no medication is used, while others are medicated.
What were your IUI’s like
We went medicated from the beginning. Essentially I took an injectable to promote follicle growth as well as a shot to time my ovulation perfectly. I also went in multiple times during the course of my monthly cycle to track my follicle growth and to ensure that I don’t have too many growing (this would lead to multiples!) and to see exactly when I would need to take my ovulation trigger shot. Every clinic has different medications they like to use, as well as different procedures so unfortunately you can’t look at this one example as how all IUIs are operated. After the actual insemintation, it was just a waiting game (along with some hormones to take!) until I would go on for a blood test.
Does it hurt
The actual insemination is very similar to a routine visit with your gynecologist! I actually found it less uncomfortable than a pap smear! It’s quick and you’re in and out! As for the injections, it really depends! My stimulant injection was called Gonal-F and it’s kind of like an epi-pen. So super easy to use and if used correctly not painful at all! The ovulation stimulant was more of an actual needle form, but once I got over the fear of it, it was fine. I did have a lot of side effects from the Gonal-F but like I said, everyone is different! Also the dosage amount varies per patient, depending on a lot of factors like how your own natural follicle growth is and your age.
I felt sluggish all the time during this period and constantly had headaches and very mild nausea in the AM. I’ve spoken to friends who had no symptoms, and others who had stronger ones!
Did you inject yourself or did Ara do it for you?
I did it myself! Ara was with me when the nurse gave us the rundown, but because he travels so often it didn’t make sense for me to be dependent on him giving me the shots. Plus I’m a control freak so I wanted to do it myself 😉 Once you get to the IVF stage, there are certain shots that some people have to take from behind- those are usually given by a partner or a relative.
How long after each IUI did you have to wait to try again?
I went back to back with the IUI cycles with the exception of the month we went to Portugal because we had already booked that trip! In some cases the doctor may up or lower your meds but we were good to go after each round.
After several failed IUI cycles (meaning we had negative pregnancy results) we went straight for IVF. That was the protocol my doctor and I had decided from the very beginning and after our last IUI we knew what the next step was. I did have to have a proper appointment again with the doctor to come up with a new schedule and a new more intensive medication list. IVF is much more invasive and a bigger time commitment so you don’t want to just rush into it. We took one month off in between the last IUI and the beginning of our round of IVF.
In general the IUI treatments were really not bad, with the exception of some side effects I had to the medication. Women generally have a 10-20 percent chance of success with one IUI cycle, which is why a few are usually performed. At a certain point however, you have to call it a day and move on to the next thing, which is what we had to do. I’ll pick up with IVF on the second part of this post.
If you have any specific questions about my IVF experience please feel free to DM me on Instagram or just shoot over a comment below!
Thanks for reading and thank you again for all the love this week!!