Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week: A harsh reality of what goes into a cycle

I am going to go ahead and put a disclosure on this post and say that it MAY be graphic, so if you don't want to read, DON'T.  But, this is a harsh reality of what may occur during a cycle when you are going through infertility treatments. 

I am NOT kidding, don't read if you can't handle it..I'm not going to hold back.  It is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I am going to make you aware :)

First off, in order to suppress cysts (if they are present) you may be put on birth control pills.  This may not sound like a big deal, but it's just the start of getting pumped full of hormones. 

The dreaded Aunt Flo.  When she comes, that is when your cycle starts.  We call this Cycle Day 1.  When she is present (generally cycle days 1-5), this is when we pretty much pop Pamprin, are bloated, wear mattress pads, sleep with heating pads, and feel like we could throw up from the cramping. 

Sometimes in a cycle we are put on a tiny pill called Clomid.  This pill is generally taken for 5 days (it is the doctors discretion as to when it is to be started) and it helps with producing eggs for ovulation.  This little pill has a HUGE affect on you mentally.  Never in my entire life have I ever experienced such mood swings.  I called these "the Clomid Crazies" and I am not kidding.  You can also experience hot flashes as if you were going to menopause.  Nothing looks more crazy than driving down the road with your head out the window when it's 20 degrees out.

Injectibles are often times used as the step AFTER Clomid.  These stimulate your ovaries and produce eggs (and yes, eggs is supposed to be PLURAL).  There is a much higher chance of multiples with injectibles.  These are once again started at the discretion of your doctor and what days they feel necessary.  ALSO, they will decide what dosage you are to be given after monitoring (which will be discussed next).  One medication for example that may be used is Follistim.  You are given a "pen" looking thing and you load it with what you receive from the pharmacy.  I ordered these through my mail order pharmacy and it came equipped with a sharps container, gauze, alcohol pads, tons of extra needles, etc.  My medication had to be given in the stomach at least 1 inch away from my belly button.  These are given according to the size of the eggs you are producing, once they are mature you discontinue.  By the end of this time, your stomach is full of dark bruises and someone might think you have been punched in the gut one too many times. 

During a cycle with injectibles (whether it be with IVF, IUI, etc) you may be monitored by your doctor.  Generally this starts with getting blood drawn and heading down to the office at the butt crack of dawn.  Once you are taken back to the room, you have to do the typical "dress from the waist down" and cover up with the not so covering paper sheet, the doctor comes in (mind you, it may not be your doctor..just whoever had the early shift that day) and your feet go into the fabulous stirrups.  You scootch your butt to the edge of the table and an ultrasound wand (aka "wandy") gets shoved up you to see how thick your lining is and how many follicles/eggs are there and their size.  This is the moment of truth...you either continue with the meds, you are ready to go, or your cycle is cancelled all together because you have been overstimulated.  If you are to continue the meds, you are told to either come back the next day to repeat it all (which means MORE blood work..we pretty much look like we are heroin addicts at the end), you proceed with the next step, or you go home to sulk and cry because the 7 shots you gave yourself in the stomach didn't matter.

The next step is probably another shot.  This shot though, can be a mother of a shot.  I had to give mine to myself in my leg, however when I did Invitro they gave it to me in my butt.  It is NOT always a small needle.  This shot is an hCG shot which is given to you generally 36 hours before the doctor wants you to ovulate.  This is used whether it be for timed intercourse, IUI (intrauterine insemination) or for IVF (which would be for an egg retrieval). 

Intrauterine Insemination could be done next.  Your partner goes in, does his "job", and they "wash" the sperm to get rid of the bad ones.  You put your legs in the fabulous stirrups, the doctor inserts a catheter into your uterus, and then puts the sperm into the catheter which puts it into the uterus.  They have you then lay there for a little while to let the sperm swim around and hopefully find your egg.

IVF (invitro fertilization) is another option.  I won't go too much into depth but you generally go through an egg retrieval (where they take your eggs out of your ovaries).  They then do what they need to do in a little petri dish and you then have to wait a certain amount of days (depending on your doctor, if your embryos have fertilized, etc) for them to be put back in.  Once there are (or IF) viable embryos that have fertilized well, they will then be placed into your uterus.  You then go though the dreaded 2 week wait.

Last up is a beta..which is a pregnancy test by blood.  Once again, more blood work...once your arm is healed from all of the drawing, there's MORE!  This is then the fate of your future..think you could focus on anything but waiting for the results that day?  Right. 

This is just general information and information from experience.  Not all cycles are the same and not all of the same things happen in the same order.  I just wanted to put into perspective of what we might be going through during a cycle, when you wake up 1 day pregnant and all it took was a night out at the bar. 

I hope you learned something, and until tomorrow!

(by the way, disregard things that don't make sense, I am SO tired!)