7 Gems - You're Welcome, TTC (trying to conceive), Uncategorized

7 Things you Should Know About Fertility Treatments

When people hear “fertility treatment” or that someone is going to a “fertility doctor” they usually think of two things: low sperm counts and IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).  Though those can be part of fertility treatments, not everyone has those issues or requires that level of intervention.  I tell you, my wife and I learned SO much during the course of our treatment and I pride myself on being pretty well informed in general. There was so much that I (we) didn’t know so I’m going to give you a list (not all inclusive) of 7 things you should consider if pursuing or in the midst of fertility treatments:

  1. Donor sperm is expensive af!
    1. If you have the luxury of a known donor or access to a partner with a viable sperm count, you are fortunate! Donor sperm can cost anywhere from $400-$900 per vial! That’s right, I said PER VIAL and often if you’re doing IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) your doc may suggest you purchase 4-5 vials. That can run you around $4000 just on sperm and let’s remember, you still have to save & have money to live and prepare for the actual baby(ies) you’re trying to have.  The silver lining is that most of the cryobanks usually have specials (e.g. buy 3, get your fourth 50% off, etc.) so those are ways to try and save some money. I’d say talk with your doc about how many tries they estimate it will take you to get pregnant and then determine how much sperm you want to buy at one time. Full disclosure, we usually only bought 2-3 at a time and sometimes, just one extra one.
  2. Not every state or city covers IVF under insurance so get your stash ready if you’re having issues.
    1. IVF isn’t covered where we live so the entire cost is out of pocket for people in need of that level of intervention.  Typically, one cycle of IVF can run you $9-$10k.  Many fertility clinics will offer you package deals to help you save money and because IVF doesn’t always work on the first try, it’s usually recommended that you have the insurance of a multiple-try plan.  Those however, can run you close to $25k and again, payment plans are available but you have to pay all of it off before you can start trying to get pregnant (usually). Check with your fertility clinic’s office about their IVF plans to determine specific pricing and what works for you.
  3. Not every follicle you grow has an egg in it.
    1. So I originally thought that the little follicles they typically check for when you’re going through monitoring at the fertility clinic, all had eggs inside them. Wrong! The follicle is where the egg grows and though medication can help to increase the amount of follicles you make, it doesn’t always mean there is an egg inside it nor that the egg that may be there, is of good quality. I can remember going through IUI and seeing 4-5 follicles thinking that meant I was going to potentially release 4-5 eggs. Of course, your doc has to have that conversation with you about the possibility of multiples and “selective reduction” when make this many follicles just because of the possibility.  Just remember, the amount of follicles you see is just that, a possibility, not a guarantee.
  4. There is a thing called “unexplained infertility”.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.
    1. Guess what? Sometimes, your tubes are open, your egg reserve measurements are good, your uterus is shaped perfectly, you timed the ovulation perfectly and the sperm count & quality is all fine but you STILL don’t get pregnant.  There is such a thing as, “I don’t know why you’re not getting pregnant” even with physician intervention.  I’m kind of a nerd (self identified blerd here – blerd = black nerd) so I’m all into science and probably should have been a medical doctor.  I usually understand and enjoy trying to understand the “why” of things. This whole “unexplained infertility” thing threw me for a loop. If you don’t know the “why”, sometimes it’s hard for you to fix the issue or you end up having to go to more extreme measures to be successful. That can be really challenging so I just want to give you all a heads up.
  5. You may have to start birth control while you’re trying to conceive (odd right?!)
    1. This doesn’t happen for everyone but sometimes, your physician may want to/need to “take control of your cycle”. There are a variety of reasons for this so if you find yourself in this situation, make sure to talk to your doctor about why so you understand what’s happening in your body. Basically when the doctors control the hormone intervention, they may be able to better time other forms of stimulation and insemination without the human factor playing as big a role.
  6. Get used to needles.
    1. I’m not a fan of needles but, I’m pretty good about getting them. I don’t freak out or pass out at the sight of blood or sharps but most people don’t really like getting poked and prodded so often (unless you’re into needle play but that’s a whole other story). From “mild” fertility intervention (maybe you’re just getting clomid to stimulate follicle growth) to “severe” intervention (IVF), you will have to at least have your blood taken fairly regularly during the monitoring phase so the doc’s can check your levels. This could be every other day or even daily. If you’re a hard stick like me, that can be super anxiety producing and put a lot of stress on the one good vein you have in your arm.  I try to avoid hand or wrist sticks at ALL costs because geesh… the pain! If you’re doing more intensive treatments, you may be giving needles to yourself in the home in your belly or arm or your “butt-back” as I like to call it.  Sometimes these needles are sub-q (sub-cutaneous) which basically means under the skin and sometimes they’re IM which means intramuscular aka IN THE FREAKING MUSCLE so the needle point is long af! Thank the universe for lidocaine patches!!! Ask your doc to prescribe you some or give you a sample. It makes a WORLD of difference.
  7. Things can “hide” so get detailed ultrasounds & even MRI’s if you need to check something out.
    1. During my journey to get pregnant, I found out I had a fibroid outside of my uterus. It was small but still could be seen on the ultrasound. Fibroids are pretty common and people usually can and do get pregnant without problems even without having them removed.  Other times, removal is required.  Throughout the course of treatment, it got bigger because guess what? Fibroids are hormone-dependent and can grow with hormone intervention like say… fertility treatments! Eventually my doc couldn’t see the whole fibroid in the picture so I was referred for an MRI of my uterus. Turns out I had a HUGE fibroid on the back of my uterus, still outside of it thankfully (ask your doc to explain the difference between fibroids outside your uterus attached like ears by a stalk and ones embedded in the muscle. They are different and require different treatment and potential surgical intervention), that they didn’t even see in any of my ultrasounds. This fibroid was the size of a baby’s head y’all! A baby’s HEAD! I didn’t feel it, had no extra discomfort during my period, no major issues but it was actually causing some pressure on my lower spine and bladder. I just thought I was getting old so I had to pee more. Ultimately I had surgery to remove those two fibroids.  Sometimes my right ovary would “hide” too during the ultrasounds and an inexperienced doctor (meaning they weren’t used to my body not that they didn’t know how to view ultrasounds) could and did “miss” it when examining me. One flat out told me, “I can’t see it so we won’t count any follicles in that ovary”. I was later given a tip by a more experienced (with me) doctor about the location of my ovary so for every appt after that, I would tell newer docs where to find it. Problem solved.  

I hope this little list helps someone. Each one reach one, right?! Comment below about whether this was helpful to you OR if you learned something from your own experience that you’d like to share with others.

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