Navigating the Maze – My top tips for attending the Fertility Show by Jessica Jones

When my husband and I attended the Fertility Show in London, in November 2016, we had just been told by our clinic that they would no longer treat us with our own gametes, as they estimated our chances of success were less than 5%.  

We were shocked and confused and we didn’t know where to turn. I’d seen a poster in the clinic for The Fertility Show at London Olympia and we wondered whether this might help.

At this point we’d had two cycles of IVF and neither had produced very good results.  In addition to my husband’s new Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis, meaning he had a ‘clinical absence of the Vas Deferens’, the hospital was telling us that I had a Low Ovarian Reserve and was a poor responder to drugs.  The outlook certainly seemed bleak.

We looked online and The Fertility Show appeared to be a great event to see lots of clinics at once.  We wanted to talk to a place called The Lister, as their website suggested they dealt with the more difficult cases.  Other than that, we thought we might just get an idea of what other clinics thought to our situation.

The website also gave details of various seminars which took place throughout the event.  It said that we had to book tickets for these, so we went through the summary of each and decided on which seminars we would attend.  Booking a place was easy, we just did it all online.

The travel was stress-free. We drove up from Leicester and parked at a tube station on the outskirts of London and caught the tube straight in.  However, despite it being well signposted, we were anxious and for the first five minutes, we were in the queue for the Christmas Handicraft event!

So that would be my first Top Tip – make sure you are queuing for the door for your event, there are multiple events going on simultaneously

Walking into The Fertility Show was mind-blowing.  It seemed huge and we had no idea what to do or where to start.  We were handed a map, which we didn’t look at. Instead, we literally walked around in a daze with our mouths wide-open and feeling very overwhelmed.After about 45 minutes, we had got nowhere and were still wandering with seemingly no idea of what to do.  So we stopped. We sat down and we talked about what we were trying to achieve and who we wanted to see. We got the map out and we made a plan of where we were going and what for.

This would be my second Top Tip – Have a plan and stick to it.  Know why you are going. Otherwise you may end up simply lost and disoriented, and not get the answers you were looking for

We talked to the clinics we had wanted to and some more on top.  Some clinics advised that they’d simply increase the drugs I had already been on; to the maximum, to see if I would respond better with more.  I wasn’t much for this approach to be honest. I felt like it was obvious that the protocol and drugs we had already used were not very effective in my case.  I wanted someone to talk about something different, different drugs, a different process. I find it very hard to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

We found something of what we were looking for, when we arrived at The Lister stand.  The first thing the consultant did, was show us on the computer, the average success rates of women of my age with Low Ovarian Reserves.  Their system said we had a 12-15% chance of success. Now I know that’s not a massive increase, but to us, it gave a flicker of hope. It seemed like success was more possible, in comparison to the ‘less than 5%’ we had been previously quoted.

What The Lister also did, was talk to us about a completely different protocol and different drugs. Finally, this was what I wanted someone to say, I wanted a different approach and it was looking like this clinic had it.  I was encouraged and I felt a renewed sense of fight inside me.

Of the three seminars we listened to during that day, one was crucial in our future treatments and plans.  This seminar was about women with a Low Ovarian Reserve and was very interesting. The consultant explained factors relating to AMH and FSH levels in women with LOR and what these would mean.

I took a lot of notes and that is my final Top Tip – to make lots of notes.  This is because it’s very intense and it can be hard to remember what was said days later if you don’t

My husband and I discussed this seminar at lot afterwards.  The issue we were having was that my AMH and FSH were nowhere near the levels he was describing for women with LOR and we didn’t understand what that meant.  We felt like we needed to speak directly to the person who had conducted the seminar – and as luck would have it, he was the MD of The Lister.

We secured an appointment with Sam Abdala and after I explained why we were there, he looked at my blood test results and told me I was ‘quite an enigma’!  He discussed an antagonist protocol with us, which we had never tried and seemed a good next step.We had a cycle at The Lister, using the antagonistic protocol and got our best ever results.  We did not get a successful pregnancy unfortunately, but in our follow up appointment, the consultant would say that I can’t really be classed as a poor responder anymore and I don’t really have a ‘low’ ovarian reserve (although it’s not brilliant either).

After this cycle we changed clinics to one closer to home, the travel was killing us.  However, we are still to this day, using the protocol set by Mr Abdala and we have a frozen embryo ready to transfer next month – an outcome we’ve never had before.  

I truly believe that our day at The Fertility Show was the turning point in our treatment.  

I would recommend anyone in the same situation as us, with a decision to make about their treatment and that can be any decision; to go along and try to get some guidance. This is a brutal journey and most of the time you don’t know if you’re doing right for wrong. You’re following advice as best as you can, but an event like this can really help to put you on the right path.

Huge thanks to Jessica for sharing her experience of the Fertility Show. If you are in the UK and interested in coming along, you can purchase your tickets in advance here

 

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