I am not a writer, neither have I blogged before. However, I have realized that with the fertility treatment, I have gained a lot of insight, consolation and hope reading various blogs, forums and medical websites. This is an attempt on my part to share the information I have (gathered), the experiences I have been through… one of the most important journeys in my life till date! It has almost been a year (already) since the real journey started (as of March 2009), and the initial part of this blog is a part of that journey followed by current happenings!
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in 2000. I was in college and it did not mean much to me at that time. I was on medication for few months (to regulate periods (AF)) and then it was a thing of the past (I was back with my regular AF and no symptoms). In 2004, it resurfaced again, I started having all the classic symptoms of PCOS (acne, weight gain, mood swings, facial hair growth, male pattern baldness and of course irregular AF). That’s when I started Yasmin (Birth Control Pills – BCP… yes I didn’t take BCP till then)… it worked like a charm on me… as if nothing had ever happened. My skin was so good during the 3 years that I was on Yasmin, that people actually complimented me! In the meanwhile I got married.
I have always loved children and to me having babies was a dream I had cherished forever! Two years into our marriage, we had financially and psychologically/biologically started preparing ourselves for parenthood. I lost around 20 lbs (I have never been skinny… a little on the heavier side, have considered myself athletic (I have been a (national level) athlete for 9 years)), watched my diet and exercised, tried to stay positive. We both knew that fertility could be a possible issue and didn’t want to delay things too much (wanted to have the first child at least by 30). We made sure that we took some extra coverage in our insurance so that it would cover fertility treatment (just in case).
My gynaecologist suggested that starting prenatal vitamins in advance would not harm. So I started my prenatals in February 2008. I wanted to accustom my body to it and be physically/biologically fit before I got off of my BCP and started TTC (trying to conceive) (Fertility Acronyms & Abbreviations: http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/acronyms.html). In April/May 2008, I got off of my BCP… and then started the yo-yo ride!
For the next few months, my AF was all over the place… short (2-3 days long) to long (2 weeks of spotting); …cycles were short (3 weeks) to long (5 weeks). I wanted to give my body some time to regulate itself before we TTC. I felt like I ovulated (Ovulation Signs & Symptoms: http://www.ovulation-calculator.com/preconception/commonsigns.htm) during the first cycle off of the BCP. In the following months there was no way to tell whether I actually ovulated. I spent a good amount of $$ on the Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPK), but felt like they were useless (since they never turned out +ve). I had started entering signs, symptoms, physical/biological changes etc in my calendar ever since I started taking the prenatals, but things stopped making sense. In August 2008, we decided to try… and during that month, I could tell… that either I was going to have a baby in May 2009 (I felt like I had all the symptoms of early pregnancy) or my PCOS (symptoms) was coming back in full swing! From what I have read thus far… your early pregnancy symptoms, your cycle symptoms, PCOS symptoms are quite similar. And your brain can do a fabulous job of interpreting it in your favor! I had bad acne issue, bloating, mood swings, tiredness… of course it was a big fat negative (BFN) (on the Early Pregnancy Test (EPT))! Blood work turned out negative as well. Since, PCOS was a suspect, my gynaecologist decided to do some hormonal check as well. My testosterone was super high (90+), estrogen was low (making my doctor believe that I had not ovulated and would do so in a week or two)… though I was confident I was going to start with my AF in the next couple of days (due to PMS). We did another round of blood work in the next few days, there was no change in hormone levels, and the very next day my AF arrived!
My gynaecologists verdict was that I was not ovulating (anovulation) and was going to have to be induced! In spite of knowing that this could be a possibility, I was not very pleased by the confirmation! He suggested that I can either try to get on to medication under his supervision or see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). I absolutely love my gynaecologist, but I needed something more organized, more systematic… someone who would monitor me day in and day out, someone who could answer my questions. I chose to see a RE! I am a scientist and I need informed “information” to be confident about what I am doing. Lack of information makes me feel out of control… and to me seeing a RE was the only systematic way of dealing with fertility (with constant monitoring and feedback). The fertility clinic we go to consists of a group of 10 RE’s and have good reviews and results. The doctors/nurses can be reached 24/7/365! It’s generally very difficult to find doctor reviews and recommendations. Some of the websites I looked at to decide which doctor I wanted to choose are: Vitals - http://www.vitals.com/, HealthGrades - http://www.healthgrades.com/, UCompareHealthCare - http://www.ucomparehealthcare.com and hospital website reviews in our area.