We have completed all the initial tests – phew! As I’m sure most of you know, before treatment can begin there is an incredible amount of pre-fertility-treatment investigations to pass
This is perhaps an indicator into the staggeringly complex IVF process and an insight into the amazingly intricate biological process of making a baby.
These are the tests we have completed so far, it took about three months
HyCoSy scan – to assess the fallopian tubes.
Semen Analysis – to determine the quantity of his little swimmers, whether they are moving correctly and whether they look healthy.
Ovarian reserve (AMH) – women are born with their lifetime’s supply of eggs, and these gradually decrease in both quality and quantity with age. The highest number of eggs there will ever be is when the woman is still a baby in the mother’s uterus: a 20-week-old female foetus has about seven million eggs! This reduces to two million when you are born and by the time you reach puberty you will have between 300,000 and 500,000 eggs Hormone profile – follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) responsible for helping your ovaries mature eggs every cycle, estradiol (E2) to determine a woman’s ovarian reserve and confirm a woman’s FSH test result, and luteinizing hormone (LH) which helps regulate ovulation and develop corpus luteum.
TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone, associated with implantation failure.
T4 – thyroxin, again to detect thyroid problems.
Prolactin – produced by the pituitary gland in the brain (too much can be a barrier to conception).
Blood group & full blood count (haemoglobin) aka FBC – to check overall health.
Varicella (aka chickenpox) – a viral infection, which is part of the herpes family that has been linked to birth defects.
Karyotype aka chromosomal analysis (3-4 weeks for results!) – to reveal chromosomal abnormalities.
Cystic fibrosis (3-4 weeks for results) – my husband learnt that he was a carrier so I also had to have the test done, this took another three weeks.
My results came back negative (and breathe!). Had we both been carriers the baby would have had a 1-in-4 chance of having Cystic Fibrosis.
Aquascan – to assess the uterine cavity (with sedative).
HIV 1 & 2, Hep B & C – this may affect treatment options and pregnancy outcomes. The only man I’ve slept with for many, many years is my husband but there’s still a strange anticipation, and then relief, when the test results come back negative. Yeah – we’ve both been faithful!
Chlamydia – this can lead to damaged fallopian tubes.
Rubella antibody – most women in the UK have had the Rubella immunisation but if they haven’t and they get pregnant, it could harm the unborn baby. It’s easy to resolve, those susceptible to rubella can have a vaccination and advised not to become pregnant for at least 1 month following the vaccination).
Updated Smear test result showing a negative cervical cancer screening – beyond the risk of developing cancer treatment whilst pregnant poses many risks to the unborn baby.
We have experienced administrative errors in both of the clinics we’ve used. So, I recommend making a list of the tests you need and ticking them off as and when they are taken.
The only potential fertility problem identified came to light during the Aquascan
As I woke up, the Doctor whilst pointing to a granulated black and white scan, declared that an adhesion was found in my uterus. The uterus is normally the shape of a deflated balloon, the sides lie on top of each other. In an Aquascan the uterus is inflated to see inside and assess the lining. The scan showed what can only be described as, a small cobweb in my Toblerone-shaped uterus, it measured 1.5cm long, fairly significant when the average uterus is 7cms long.
We had to wait a month to speak to our fertility consultant as we were waiting on the results of some blood tests. Armed with this new information questions kept popping into my head, in bursts of curious, uneasy, frustrated moments. I resisted the urge to Google it. And a month felt like a lifetime.
The whole process is one waiting game after another
An ongoing battle between mystical Mother Nature who has burdened us with infertility and the fertility specialists. I am a puzzle, presented by the glorious powerful and incomprehensible mother nature, and the infertility specialists have to crack the code!
Eventually the appointment came, and the consultant said that the adhesion might also be part of the uterus lining (endometrium) that simply hadn’t yet been cleared during my last cycle. That it could in effect, come out in the next wash!
The choice was to pay £3,000 to have a hysteroscopy, which is where a very fine instrument inspects the uterus lining and removes the scar tissue (with a fine pair of scissors called microscissors). However, he also said that most people pay for it and then when the treatment starts the camera doesn’t find anything, as the tissue has since come out in a monthly period.
So the next step is to start stimulations, harvest the eggs, get some normal embryos and then see where we’re at with the adhesion
We will have another Aquascan to assess the uterus lining before implantation, should it get that far. Oh the excitement.
I am about to start a new monthly cycle (the first day of a period) in a few days, so I can start stimulation hormones very soon. A good friend who had eight rounds of IVF before having twins asked me, “Are you feeling ready?” – What does ready feel like? Do you ever feel ready to start injecting yourself? I live a healthy lifestyle and I didn’t want to think about anything else much more beyond that. It’s like a band aid, I’m going to rip it off in one almighty yank and hope for the best!
Good luck my fellow fertility struggling friends,
Thora Negg x
IVF is a gamble and everyone’s fertility journey is unique.
I am not a medical professional, fertility coach or psychologist.
I have no idea what my story will be, but I will share it openly and frankly.
Hopefully it will provide you with hope and reassurance.
And don’t forget, underneath all the totally justified, mixed-up emotions, there is still a strong woman at the core – follow your instincts and forgive yourself, this isn’t your fault X