Everything seems to be fine: our infertility journey so far

Make yourself a (fertility) tea and get comfortable. Here’s the low down on our last two years – including all tests I’ve done so far and my diagnosis, or lack thereof.

Doctor holding a clipboard with infertility written in capital letters

After an unplanned and unexpected break I’m back. It’s been a combination of being very busy at work , a well overdue holiday, and the two year anniversary of starting to try to conceive. At Christmas time 😐

That’s right we timed it really well and started trying Christmas 2015. To be fair most people start trying for a baby thinking it’s going to be fairly straight forward, maybe take a few months but not years. 

Our journey so far

Hubby and I have been together for over 16 years now, but we only actively started trying to conceive two years ago, just before we got married. We never felt that we needed to be married before having kids it just worked out that we started trying around the same time.

Before that we’d been concentrating on work and study, we were finally at a point where we felt we were as ready as we would ever be.

A couple of months after we started trying I went to my GP (family doctor for any non-Aussie readers) for an initial TTC check up, in part because in my twenties I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but also just to make sure everything was ok. As my periods are pretty regular, my GP didn’t think I still had PCOS. So I had a few pre-conception blood tests that showed that everything seemed to be ok.

Around the same time Hubby had also went to the GP for a general check up and they did a sperm analysis, which came back good.

I went back to my GP in October as I’d been having some mid-cycle bleeding which I was a bit freaked out. I was sent off for a pelvic ultrasound – or as I like to call it a dildo camera – and some additional blood tests to make sure I was ovulating. The pelvic ultrasounds showed that I had polycystic ovaries, no surprise there, but nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. And according to the blood tests I was ovulating.

At this point we had been trying to conceive for less than a year, and as I was in my early thirties my GP didn’t think there was any reason to be concerned. But to help my peace of mind she wrote a referral to a specialist so I could make an appointment once it passed a year.

Our first specialist

Fast forward to February 2017 and we had our first specialist appointment. Looking back I was a bit surprised at how short the appointment was. He had a quick look over my tests to date, said that without making any promises we should have a good chance of getting pregnant, and suggested that the next step should be having a HSG (hysterosalpingogram – a test where they essentially flush your tubes while they take x-ray images to make sure there are no blockages).

Because there is an increased chance of falling pregnant in the three months following a HSG, we didn’t need to come back for a follow up appointment until three months after the procedure if  we didn’t fall pregnant.

So we left our very first specialist appointment full of hope that all things going well, some time in the next three months we should be pregnant.

Spoiler, it didn’t happen.

For anyone who has had the fortune of not needing to see if your tubes are blocked Lake Imaging have a very useful and easy to understand explainer of the procedure. I didn’t have my procedure done with them, I just found their description of the procedure clear and useful. 

When I had my HSG done I had a support nurse assigned to me, which was so lovely. She explained the procedure, and the risks, before we went in and then stayed by my side during the procedure. 

You’re awake the whole time, and the radiologist explained what she was doing throughout. I didn’t find the procedure too bad, but it was a bit uncomfortable. Especially when they inflate the tiny balloon which holds the catheter in place. 

I did have a moment where I freaked out a bit, and I think my support nurse got a bit worried too. After taking some images the radiologist called in her supervisor to have a look – which automatically makes you think there’s something really wrong. 

There I am lying down, with my legs up in stirrups waiting for bad news when the supervisor comes in, has a look at my tubes and says they look fantastic. What a relief!

So at this point my tubes are fine, I appear to be ovulating, Hubby’s sperm is good, but I have polycystic ovaries. 

We continue trying for three months.

Still no luck.

Back to the specialist.

He suggests more blood tests for me, again to make sure I’m ovulating. Another round with the dildo camera for me, and another sperm test for Hubby.

Everything comes back ‘normal’. Again I’m told I have polycystic ovaries. Specialist tells us there’s no reason we shouldn’t be getting pregnant, and the ultrasound didn’t pick up any signs of endometriosis so no point doing a laparoscopy. He recommends trying for another three months and if we still aren’t pregnant come back and then we should start thinking about IVF.

For me the most frustrating part of struggling to conceive, apart from not being able to get pregnant, has been not finding anything wrong. There’s no problem to fix, it’s just not happening and no-one can say why.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some couples face massive problems in trying to conceive. But for me the unknown and not having something to focus on is really hard to deal with. Being told that everything appears to be fine, when clearly it’s not because if it was we would have been pregnant by now is just frustrating. 

Our second specialist

Not long after my HSG I started seeing a local acupuncturist as part of an effort to do everything possible to conceive. I’ve found that to be a massive help, especially for my mental health. But it was also through her we found our second specialist.

She had been saying for some time that she thought I had endometriosis, and when it was coming towards the end of the final three month wait and still no pregnancy I decided we should at least get a second opinion. I didn’t want to start IVF and then later on find out that I did have endometriosis. 

November 2017 we had our first appointment with our second specialist.

He suggested we do a laparoscopy to see if there was endometriosis, and at the same time to check out my tubes again and also do a D&C to clean out my uterus. He also said that because I have a roughly 30 day cycle that after the laparoscopy we would start ovulation stimulation to try and get me to ovulate around the 14 day mark.

After being told by multiple doctors that  a 30 day cycle was fine (and it is in the range of being ok) there was a kind of relief in being told it wasn’t ideal. The feeling I had had that something wasn’t quite right with me was being validated.

We booked in my laparoscopy for the end of January after my holiday. But that’s part two of our journey so far.

Thanks for sticking with me. Let me know in the comments what you think, and tell me about your TTC journey.

Tash.

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