According to the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth that CDC conducted, one in eight couples in the country have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Ruth and Andy are one of them. Both of them have health issues that affect their fertility, which makes conception a tough challenge for the past three years. Although they are having more challenging difficulty than other couples, the great things we see on them is that they always support each other and find a way to make their dream - having a baby to expand their family - come true. We are happy to invite Ruth to share her TTC story and the treatments they've tried. We hope our readers can learn some tips and advice from her story and make TTC easier.
Introduce yourself a little bit. Tell us your TTC story - How long have you been trying to conceive and what is the problem you are facing?
My name is Ruth. My husband Andy and I live in Georgia and have been married for five years. Andy and I have been TTC for 3 years. We are one of those lucky couples who have both male and female factors affecting our ability to conceive. Andy was diagnosed with varicocele, which he was able to have surgically corrected. However, despite the surgery, the morphology of the sperm did not improve enough for us to get pregnant. On top of that, I have stage one endometriosis. I also had surgery to diagnose and address the issues this disease causes. We have tried several treatment options, but have not overcome our infertility yet. I started a blog, The One In Eight, in April, right around the time of our final failed IUI. It’s been really helpful to write about our story and connect with others experiencing similar things.
You have tried intrauterine insemination (IUI) before, so can you tell us more about this treatment? Like what to expect? What’s is the exact process? How does it work? And your experience on IUI if you feel comfortable to share.
After my surgery, my doctor recommended that we move forward with IUI, as the first four months following my procedure would give us the best chances for getting pregnant. After that, my endometriosis could come back.
At my doctor’s office, IUI consisted of:
- Day 3 baseline check (to look at ovaries, follicles, lining, etc.)
- 5 days of Clomid (Day 3-7)
- Mid-cycle ultrasound (to see how many follicles I had and determine timing for taking the trigger shot)
- Trigger shot
- Actual IUI procedure (two days back to back)
- Take antibiotic to prevent infections
- Take Progesterone suppositories (sometimes estrogen, too) to keep lining thick
Basically, the Clomid helps your ovaries produce more eggs than you normally would. The trigger shot triggers ovulation. Even if you don’t have trouble ovulating, they often use a trigger for timing purposes. On the day of the actual IUI, your husband will collect a sample; the people in the lab will get all the “good ones” by doing a sperm wash. Then the doctor will put all the good ones into your uterus via catheter, putting them right where they need to be. This is especially good for people with poor morphology, because it means the sperm won’t have to swim as far.
We did five IUI’s. I was so hopeful with our first IUI, as this was our first actual attempt at ART. When it didn’t work, I was devastated. But, I knew that not everyone gets pregnant the first time naturally, so I was hopeful to try again. One thing that was really stressful for me during IUI was that I was balancing work at the same time, as are many people going through infertility treatments. Over the course of just a couple weeks, you go into the doctor roughly 6 times. That’s a lot of time to ask off! And when it’s about time for the IUI procedure, you don’t know exactly when it will happen. It all depends on your follicles and the timing of your cycle. So when you go in for your mid-cycle check, they could tell you to come back tomorrow and the next day for your IUI. That means you have to ask off of work with really short notice! Luckily, I have a boss who has been super supportive and told me to go whenever I needed. That was huge.
And now you have moved on to in vitro fertilization (IVF), can you also tell us about what is IVF? How does it work? Your experience on IVF so far? And what are the differences between IUI and IVF?
After five failed IUI’s, it was time to move on to IVF. With IUI, they take all the good sperm and put them right where they need to be, but the sperm and egg still fertilize in your body. You are on medicine, but just the Clomid for five days, one trigger shot, and the progesterone afterwards. IUI is much less invasive and involved than IVF. There is also a much smaller chance that IUI will work.
With IVF, you take a lot more medicine! There is more physical strain on your body. You have to take medicine that pumps up your ovaries, getting them going so they produce more eggs than usual (more than IUI) on both sides. Then you also have to take medicine to slow them down so that they don’t release the eggs before your egg retrieval. Your doctor does surgery to remove the eggs, and then the sperm and egg fertilize outside of the body. If they fertilize, you have an embryo, which the doctor then transfers back into your uterus.
There is a lot of anxiety, anticipation, and painful emotional turmoil with both types of procedures, but I definitely felt it more with IVF. You are going through so much, giving everything you have to try to have a baby, and you wait on pins and needles to hear how many eggs you got, whether they were mature, whether they fertilized, whether they fertilized normally, if they were good quality, and then whether or not it worked.
We just found out that our first IVF did not work. We did get four embryos to freeze, though, so we will be moving forward with a frozen embryo transfer (FET) soon.
[For more information about IVF go check our "Expert Chat: The Truth Behind The Secret Infertility" ]
|My name is Ruth. I’ve been happily married to my husband for five years. I’m a play therapist and school counselor, and I recently started the blog, The One in Eight, to document my infertility journey, encourage those experiencing infertility, and raise awareness about infertility in general. I love to travel, cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs, and spend time with people I love.
Ruth and Andy are having a fundraising project on YouCaring. Help them start a family by sharing their story and donating.