Navigating infertility: Trust your gut
Be your own advocate. This is probably the best advice my mother has given me to date— especially as it relates to my experience with doctors while going through fertility treatment.
First, there was the doctor who told me I was overreacting by wanting to check things out. She even said, “It’s not like you’re 40!”. I was 35 at the time and we’d been trying for 6 months without any luck. I had always read that this was the ideal time to get things checked out.
Next came the doctor who told me I had a uterine polyp that needed to be removed via an outpatient hysteroscopy and D&C. In reality, I did not have a polyp but she decided to perform the D&C anyway. Afterward, I did not have a period for 6 months!
This lead me to a fertility doctor who found advanced stage endometriosis during testing. He recommended surgery to remove it, so I complied and went under the knife again. After one failed intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, he insisted I had a disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can cause irregular periods, fertility issues, and a host of other problems. He recommended I go on a medicine called Metformin to help regulate this, and like a good little patient, I again complied.
When IUI #2 failed, he insisted I had something called diminished ovarian reserve which basically meant I had very little eggs in reserve—something he said was uncharacteristic for my age (by this time, I was 36). At this point, my very limited fertility benefits ran out so we decided to take a break. I continued to take my medicine and fully believed that with every day that passed, my ovaries were drying up and my dream of being a mommy would be just that—a dream and never a reality.
After sharing my story with my manager at work, she told me she thought it was odd that he diagnosed me with PCOS because I didn’t have any of the symptoms. She recommended I see her fertility doctor instead. Thank goodness I did.
My experience with the next doctor was vastly different and in the best way. He debunked both of my diagnoses from the first infertility doctor. In fact, he said I had very generous ovaries and definitely did not have PCOS! We moved forward with another round of IUI.
After IUI failed again, he noticed scarring in my pelvis during a routine sonogram. It was his belief that the scarring was a result of either more endometriosis or scar tissue from the last surgery. At this point, he said without hesitation that I would need in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant.
Even though I’d been through such hell and was a bit gun-shy where doctors were concerned, I trusted him. I just felt so at ease and like I was in the best of hands. He and everyone in his office were absolutely wonderful and I always felt supported. And what do you know, we did IVF and it worked on the first try! We now have a beautiful 11-year-old daughter. Not only did this doctor make my dreams of motherhood come true, but he also restored my faith in the medical profession! I will always be grateful to him and his entire staff.
There were times I wanted to just throw in the towel and give up. Heck, we were even considering adoption. In my heart of hearts, I just did not believe what the first infertility doctor was telling me—even though he was an educated and accomplished doctor, he did not know my body as well as I did.
My advice to anyone who is going through a similar situation is to listen to your heart and your body. If something doesn’t seem right, seek a second, third, or fourth opinion. After all, doctors don’t know everything. So, be your own advocate and trust your gut.