Infertility: The Struggle is Part of the Story
An adjective, one word & three syllables.
That one word is a weapon. A word that haunts the trying to conceive community, a word that brings heartache to an entire family and a word that can be so emotionally devastating to women (and men). For some strange reason the moment I was “labeled” infertile an old saying played on repeat in my head, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. All I can ever think of in response to that saying is that it is a load of fucking shit, because truth is words or THAT one word, does hurt!
That word has been taunting. That word is a never-ending soundtrack and it plays when I wake up, when I am around loved ones, when I am at work, almost every minute of every day since I was told with no emotion so nonchalantly by my fertility specialist.
There is a lot of pride in being a woman and I believe that one of the sole reasons is our ability to birth life; something that potentially will not be an opportunity for the infertile. This is something that will potentially not be an option for me; someone who is a daughter, sister, fiancé, but lacks the last few labels of mother or grandmother…
Angered. Enraged. Betrayed. Lonely. Depressed. So many emotions at once and one question speaking so loudly in my head, “Why me, why FUCKING me?!” Being unable to hide from those emotions and drowning in self-pity, I verbalized this aloud to a friend and his response was, “Why NOT you, plot twist!” My initial thought was you fucking asshole how dare you be completely inconsiderate, but I bit my tongue and discontinued the conversation. I became stuck on that response, obsessive as to why a human would even say that to someone who is going through the grieving process. But…reality check Chelsea; although it is an ignorant thing to say, he is right to throw a question at me to ponder, a question that became eye opening. Who am I to judge who is fit to be a mother, who am I to determine why I would make a better mother? Just like every other person in the world we are living life on life’s terms. I was given the terms to endure this obstacle of infertility (or as I call them, “Satin’s terms”), but I HAVE the power change my perception on this horrible diagnosis. I have the power to pick my head up and find a solution, find a purpose to this all.
Just like when I first heard of endometriosis, I was off to the races with research. I strongly believe we are our best advocates and I needed to educate myself in order to fight this new diagnosis, in order to find out my options or to even accept this.
After meeting with my fertility specialist, I felt belittled. I felt like my emotions and well-being was not of importance. Her logic and belief system did not match mine and I was not about endure another doctor explaining to me how to treat my endometriosis, who was less educated on the disease then I am. Her passive aggressive remarks about needing to be on Lupron was the very first sign that I should have walked out. But here I am using this anger and depression to make the best of a situation and rescue myself. Below I am going to only include the testing portion since that is just the start and it becomes overwhelming to cover testing and treatments all at once. I am going to take you through my journey and start with the basic tests that help determine the causes of infertility.
Infertility means the inability to conceive after having unprotected sex. Infertility also includes the inability to carry full term during pregnancy. A person is considered infertile after approximately 12 months of unprotected intercourse without any methods of contraception.
OPKs (Ovulation Predictor Kits): Test your LH (Luteinizing Hormone) level by urine. A surge of LH which is sent to your ovary causes your ovary to produce enzymes which in turn causes the dominant follicle to rupture and release the egg into the Fallopian tube. This is ovulation and it is expected to occur within 24 hours of the surge of LH. An OPK is thus expected to be positive the day before you ovulate.
BBT (Basal Body Temperature): During the first half of your cycle (called the follicular phase) estrogen is the dominant. Estrogen helps your ovaries produce an egg that is released during ovulation. During the second half of your cycle (the luteal phase), progesterone takes over. The progesterone will dominate until it falls in anticipation of your menstrual period. An increase in basal body temperature indicates that you have ovulated.
Cervical Mucus: During ovulation, your estrogen levels begin to surge, which causes your cervix to secrete more cervical mucus that is of a so-called “fertile quality”. This fertile-quality cervical mucus, also known as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM), is clear and stretchy, similar to the consistency of egg whites, and is the perfect protective medium for sperm in terms of texture and pH.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps control a woman’s menstrual cycle and the production of eggs. A FSH test is done on the third day of the menstrual cycle and is used to evaluate egg supply.
Estradiol is an important form of estrogen. An estradiol test is used to measure a woman’s ovarian function and to evaluate the quality of the eggs. Completed on day 3.
Luteinizing Hormone Level
In women, luteinizing hormone (LH) is linked to ovarian hormone production and egg maturation. A LH test is used to measure a woman’s ovarian reserve (egg supply). It is done during a woman’s menstrual cycle to see if she is ovulating
Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. It causes the endometrial lining of the uterus to get thicker, making it receptive for a fertilized egg. A serum progesterone test is used to determine if ovulation is occurring. Since progesterone increase towards the end of a woman’s cycle, the test is done during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (just before her period starts), typically day 21.
The hormone prolactin is made by the pituitary gland. A prolactin test done to find out why they are not menstruating, or why they are having infertility problems.
Thyroid Hormone Test
Could potentially be preventing ovulation.
Looks at the size and structure of the uterus and the ovaries. It is able to view the condition. The women’s egg reserve will be seen by counting the number of follicles in both ovaries during a certain phase of the menstrual cycle.
Is an x-ray test that looks at the inside of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. The picture shows any blockages of the fallopian tube.
Is an ultrasound test that uses saline and ultrasound to look at the female reproductive organs.
Is a procedure to look at a woman’s pelvic organs using a thin, lighted scope that is put through a small incision in the belly. General anesthesia is needed.
There are other tests available, however these are the basic and most common in order to further investigate fertility. Depending on the results of your test, it will dictate the treatment that an individual receives, which as stated before, I will discuss in another post. Inform your doctors you want these tests before enduring anymore traumatic medical events occur in order to make a sound decision in what options will be available to you. Do not give up; your experiences, my experiences, are helping shape other women to have better treatment. Let this post give you light and guidance that you are absolutely not alone.
Love and Light,
P.S- pleaseeeee feel free to message me about your fertility journey, I am of support and could use advice as well during my journey.