Male Factor. That was our official diagnosis as to why we were infertile back in 2011. When they do a sperm analysis, they don’t just look at the count as many people think. They look at about 7 other major factors too. NOTE: I do not claim to be a doctor in anyway, all of this information is based purely on experience. Some of these factors are sperm volume, concentration, motility (IMPORTANT!), viscosity, PH, and morphology (ANOTHER BIGGIE!). When it comes down to it, the 3 most important factors are: count, motility, and morphology. In other words, the amount of sperm, the rate at which they swim, and if they are shaped normal or not. Don’t worry, I won’t get into all of the details and percentages like a doctor will and bore you to death, however feel free to ask if you are curious.
When we had our 2nd sit down with the fertility specialist after the 2nd count, he told us our only option was to do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). WHOA! What? These are very common terms to the infertile couple even though they may sound foreign to a fertile myrtle (notice I emphasize may). Basically, we figured out on our own that IVF meant retrieving my eggs and putting them with my husbands sperm in a dish in hopes they would form an embryo(s) that could be transferred into my uterus. The ICSI part meant that instead of allowing the sperm and egg to join together on their own in the dish, the embryologist would pick the best sperm and inject them into the best eggs.
Initially, we wanted NOTHING to do with IVF. It was so scary to even think about it. We had friends that went through it and we knew what hell it was for them, whether they finally achieved the pregnancy or not. Emotionally, physically, financially…we didn’t want anything to do with it. So, we insisted that the doctor allow us to do an Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) first. The doctor clearly told us there was no chance it would work as we only had a tenth of the sperm they recommend for this procedure. We didn’t care.
Here’s why: In my opinion, IUI is wayyyy easier than IVF. The amount of hormones and monitoring by the doctor is significantly less. Plus, it is much less evasive and significantly cheaper (IUI is only about $1,000 each round). For us, IUI involved taking Clomid (sometimes referred to as the “gateway drug” for infertile couples) for a few weeks before ovulation, with ultrasounds in between to measure the size of my follicles, and when they were the right size, I would inject myself with a “trigger” shot (OUCH! This one was in the stomach though, not like the big daddy IVF one in the a** which is so much worse). The trigger shot meant I would release my eggs (ovulate) within 36 hours. During that window of time, we would go into the doctor, Shane would do his part, and they would inject it into me. It was definitely worth a shot to us.
Here’s the catch-the only way you can proceed with an IUI or an IVF is to have MORE tests done first. Anyone embarking in the field of assisted reproduction should understand and accept that there will always be tests to be done on them. The two most common diagnostic uterine tests are the Hysterosalphigogram (HSG) and the Saline Infusion Sonohysterography (SIS). Ask any woman who has had an IUI or IVF done and I bet she will know exactly what these are. The HSG is an x-ray that checks your uterus to make sure your tubes aren’t blocked. You go into the same type of room as you would for an x-ray, except you lay down and they inject a “dye” into your uterus through a catheter so they can see the uterus better. I HATED this test the most of all tests (all 3 times I had it done). It was uncomfortable and took about 20 minutes. And there was an issue. The doctor said my right tube appeared to be blocked and we would need to repeat the test to be absolutely sure (there was a chance I was just having a spasm that was causing it to appear blocked).
So, I repeated the evil test and it came back normal, no tube blockage, just a spasm. Next on the list was the SIS. This one isn’t as bad. I’ve had it done about 5 times. Here a catheter is inserted and saline is injected into the uterus. This test looks for things like polyps, fibroids, and scar tissue. My first one came back normal and we were finally ready to give the IUI a go! As you can see, it takes a while for anything in the fertility world to actually happen. From the time we decided to do the first IUI until we actually did it, it was around 3 months later.
The day following my trigger, we went to the doctor for the insemination. My husband did his job in the “secret room” while I was prepped in the room adjacent. It took about 20 minutes because they have to wash, or spin out his sperm, finding only the moving ones with nice shapes. There weren’t many they told us. But, we were still hopeful. Hey, it only takes 1 right?! I laid back and the doctor injected the sperm into my uterus through a tiny catheter. Piece of cake! After I rested there for about 30 minutes while we talked. I took the day off work even though they said I could return to my normal activities. We went back in the following day & went through the same steps trying to make sure we timed the IUI perfectly right. I took off another day to relax. And then 2 week wait began (2WW).
In the world of infertility, this is one of the most dreaded times. Seriously, Google it and you will see. During the 2WW, I tried to stay busy at work and at home, and so did my hubs. We didn’t tell anyone we did the IUI, other than our fertility buddies at the time. The doctors tell you that you should never take a pregnancy test early, but we did anyways. Negative. We still thought it might have worked.
That’s the viscous cycle with infertility; you are always hopeful and sure THIS is the time. But, the day my blood was to be drawn at the doctor, I got my period and it confirmed the BFN. It was now 2012.