Fertility clinics and exploitation

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This last week has been a bit stressful, largely due to the (you could call it incompetence) of my clinic. It’s fair to say I’m not a big fan of fertility clinics and I’ve got some experience here, it’s not to say there aren’t some good, kind people working in them, but at the end of the day the people behind the clinics seem to be in it for the money.

This has been brought into stark relief with a recent Daily Mail investigation about women going through IVF being coerced into giving up their eggs. I’m aware of egg sharing which is a legitimate practice, although my own clinic doesn’t do it because they think it puts the women in a difficult position – if you’re struggling to pay for your treatment but someone offers you reduced rate IVF if you give up half your eggs this would be very tempting. It is one of the reasons we wanted an altruistic donor who was donating because they wanted to – not because they were getting free treatments and not at the expense of possibly compromising their own chances. Plus I have been on some fertility forum boards where there were damning reports of egg sharing. One woman gave up half her eggs for reduced rate treatment but at the time was unsure of the quality, she ended up having to have donor eggs herself a year or so later. She accidently connected with her recipient on the same forum at the time of the sharing and the recipient was told by the clinic that the donor was having IVF because of male factor when in fact they were at the time unexplained. As the donor said you probably wouldn’t want to take eggs from someone whose infertility was unexplained as it could be an egg issue. In essence, the clinic was exploiting both women. Another awful story was from an egg sharer who was forced by her clinic (which was a very highly regarded London clinic) to give more than half her eggs to the recipient which didn’t seem fair (usual practice is half and half).

Now I don’t read the Daily Mail (with it’s homophobic, racist and sexist undertones) but the IVF activist Jessica Hepburn has written a related opinion piece in the Guardian, which points out that the recent allegations suggest that some clinics are not offering just free treatment but money for eggs (which is not allowed), and that some clinics are proactively promoting the practice in order to obtain eggs to sell on at a significant profit. I made the stupid mistake of reading the reader comments, so hurtful and such a lot of ignorance about IVF, about egg donation and about the mental health impacts of treatment. As Jessica writes “Infertility and assisted conception still carry a stigma that is felt acutely by those going through it, but little understood or empathised with by those who are not. It affects your relationships with your family, your friends, your partner and at work, and above all it decimates your self-esteem.” I’m not sure some of the commentators bothered to read that part of her article. Unfortunately I am not surprised by the expose – I suspect there’s a lot of truth in it.

Now this investigation makes my complaints about my clinic seem a little trivial but I’m going to moan away here anyway. Last weekend my lining was looking fairly good for me so I was quite positive. On Tues I had to go in for another scan. The measurement was quite a bit thinner. So I made a complaint. I pointed out that whilst I accepted a small margin of error there has been a lot of discrepancy this cycle – they keep measuring it one thickness then the next time it’s thinner. I’ve never had this before at any other clinic, and I wanted to speak to my consultant. The problem is that I hardly ever see him unlike at my other two clinics where I saw my consultant on nearly every visit. At my current clinic you see the consultant rarely – which doesn’t help continuity of care. I was really concerned as had I known the lining was thinner I could’ve started taking some more medication to assist – but now I didn’t really have the chance. The clinic didn’t help by saying they couldn’t get me an appointment with the consultant til the next day. I wasn’t having that. I said I was going to cancel my cycle (this is a very good line to use by the way – works every time). Shortly afterwards my consultant’s PA rang me. She was very good and within an hour my consultant phoned me. He asked me to go in the next day when he would do my scan. He also asked me to start supplementing with some extra oestrogen – which I pointed out would’ve been better advice a few days before.

When he scanned me the lining was 7.5 and good quality which was ok but given the Sunday before I’d been told 7.6 I was still a bit annoyed. He was happy though and I moved to set up for transfer.

On Friday I had to go in for intralipids  (I’m not sure I believe in them anymore but too scared not to have them just in case) I wasn’t seen on time and so we started the infusion quite late. After 20 mins the nurses can speed it up which they did so but I noticed it still wasn’t very fast compared to previous infusions. I had an acupuncture appointment to get to with a new acupuncturist as mine is on holiday, and I really didn’t want to miss it. So I asked them to speed it up again. What followed ended up being a bit of an argument between me and the nurse. I really tried to stay calm and explain that I’d had the infusions quite a few times (including once at their clinic on my cancelled cycle) so there was no danger of reaction and that I had an appointment to get to which was to complement my treatment. The nurse showed no empathy whatsoever and said I should’ve rebooked the infusion – given I’d only been given the set up go ahead on Wed afternoon and had to chase the clinic on Thurs for an infusion appointment, and they don’t do them at the weekend I pointed out the impracticality of her reasoning. I also pointed out they started late and kept me waiting  to which she responded that they were busy and didn’t have a bed available at my appointment time. But apparently all this was my fault and at that point I should’ve rearranged. In the end they sped up the drip slightly and I was 10 mins late for my acupuncture appointment. It also turned out on Wed at my nurse appointment that one of my blood tests was missing (I’m not sure it was but was too weary to argue) so I had to pay £75 for the privilege – this is something my GP could’ve done for me, and should’ve been picked up by the clinic a few weeks before.

I find it quite incredible sometimes. We’re paying a massive amount of money for our treatment, and they keep making ‘little’ mistakes (many of which seem to cost me money), their waiting times are awful – I’ve rarely had an appointment on time (the nurse admitted to me they had a real problem with this and basically said they’d taken on too many patients – what greed). All this adds to the overall stress of treatment. It’s really not acceptable. I’m able to stand up for myself, I know how to play this game after so long, but others don’t and we’re all being exploited by these clinics in some way because we’re desperate for children and will put up with all sorts of crap to get there, and we pay for the privilege of being treated like crap. I should add here that my clinic is recognised as being one of the best in terms of success rates – so they must be doing something right. But seriously!

Transfer is next week by the way. I’m quite nervous about the defrost.

 

 

 

Frozen transfer lining sagas continued…

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So it turns out that last week on Sunday when the sonographer measured my lining she did it wrong! WTF! I went in on Tues feeling really positive and the (different) sonographer said it was still thin and 4.7. She seemed a bit unwilling to drop her colleague in it but I was not amused and I went from being positive to thinking that this was going to be yet another dud frozen cycle preparation month. I went back on Thurs and things were looking better as the lining was now 6.1. I then had to go back on Saturday when it was 7.1 and today (Sunday) when it was 7.6. It’s also good quality being triple lined (I don’t usually have a problem with that, it’s just the thickness which is an issue). Whilst I’m pleased that the lining is looking better than the last couple of failed attempts to get to transfer I’m truly fed up with traipsing to that clinic especially when I go in on the weekend as it’s nearly a 2 hour round trip not including the time spent at the actual clinic (it’s much easier if I go on my way to work or when I’m at work as it’s only 25-30 mins from my work). And it’s a bank holiday weekend this weekend and the constant visits have impacted my ability to enjoy the weekend and to relax. I understand that they’re monitoring the follicles and that timing the ovulation is important, not because of the eggs, but in order to get my progesterone started correctly, and also to get the lining to it’s optimum but it’s annoying as being a weekend and then bank holiday the clinic is only open short hours that I have to fit in with. So today when they told me I had to go in tomorrow on bank holiday Mon after going in the last 2 days (and fit in with their shortened hours) as well I really baulked. I was looking forward to a relaxing day (well apart from my driving lesson and my Pilates class) as I’ve been out all day on Sat and Sun (after rushing to fit in the clinic visits both days). I was also quite reluctant to cancel my driving lesson as my instructor is so booked up she wouldn’t be able to rearrange so I’d just have to skip a week, and I’d also get charged to cancel my Pilates class. But I agreed to go in if it was really necessary. Anyway in the end they said I could go in on Tues and do my trigger tomorrow. I’m still not sure when transfer will be as it depends on when the ovulation actually happens (again a bit more uncertain than if I was having my eggs collected and it means I’ll potentially have to go to the clinic every day until it does) but I guess earliest will be a week on Mon.

In terms of what my eggs are doing I have 2 large follicles on my left ovary and a number of smaller ones on my right. The largest follicle is nearly ready hence the need to trigger tomorrow. Even though we’re not using them I thought I’d be more concerned with the number of follicles and potential maturity but I’ve only been taking the stimulation drugs every other day so wasn’t expecting huge numbers and haven’t dwelled on figures too much. Though a little bit of me is sad at the waste even with small numbers particularly when we’re going to be using donor eggs.

Every so often this last week I’ve had the fears about going though the two week wait – I think it gets worse each time as you know in advance how awful it is. Plus my husband put his foot down earlier this week and said he was done with IVF after this try. But I’m trying to put the (hopefully) forthcoming wait and the weight of the importance of it working as it looks like our last shot (although I’ve said that before) from my mind and just take each day at a time. I still have to build this lining and the embryos still have to defrost ok before I can even get to transfer….eeek.

 

 

A marathon not a sprint!

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I had my lining check today. It was 6.3 and triple lined and I’ve still potentially got another week of low dosage stimming to do before I trigger and then a few days after that before I transfer (hopefully) my defrosted embryo(s). So that was pretty good news. Fingers crossed this protocol works for my lining. Grow lining!

Afterwards I nipped along to watch some of the London Marathon. I go up to the course every year to support my club and fairly often my husband and brother in law, and I’ve run it myself 3 times. My husband was running this year but dropped out at mile 19 (this was planned as he has been ill and hadn’t trained for the full distance, he has a championship place which are for fast club runners so just did it as a training run).

In some ways the fertility journey, and in particular the IVF journey, remind me a bit of running a marathon. You prepare for a marathon by taking on proper nutrition and hydrating (as well as doing the actual running prep). When you start out on the marathon course you feel apprehensive and nervous but excited at the same time, for a while (if you’ve trained) you feel pretty good, running along enjoying the support, taking on your nutrition and feeling fairly positive about your prospects. And then somewhere (usually at about 20 miles for me) you start to feel crap, physically and mentally, and there begins a long, hard slog to the finish where you find yourself counting every step and agonising about every twinge  (the last 6 miles is a million times harder than the first 20). Sound familiar? I still love running though, I’d rather run a few more marathons than do IVF!!!

I popped along to our usual marathon pub after the race to celebrate with the finishers from my running club and commiserate with those who hadn’t made it to the start line through injury etc. There are now a lot of babies / small children amongst our friends and sometimes it’s hard, especially when there are more pregnancy announcements in the pub but you have to roll with it. It was nice to see two of our friends who have a little girl through a donor egg (I think we’re the only ones who know this, though others know they’ve had IVF) and see how they are a normal family (I know – why wouldn’t they be? But sometimes I do get the fear about using donor eggs so it really helps me to see this normality).

I’ve started to feel a few more side effects from the stimulation but nothing too bad. I managed to fit a run in this morning and don’t yet feel uncomfortable though I’m definitely peeing a lot more now. Next scan is Tues and I need to remember to check how large my ovaries are as I’m still running at the moment. I usually give up about a week into stimming partly because of potential impacts on egg quality and partly because of risk of ovarian torsion, I don’t have to worry about egg quality this time but do need to check I’m not going to damage my ovaries. Here’s hoping the lining continues to thicken and we see more progress on Tues.

 

 

 

Attempting to get to transfer (again)

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I’ve been quiet on the blogging front lately as there’s not been much to report. A couple of weeks ago I had an endometrial scratch. I made sure that I had a full bladder this time and it went really smoothly, it was probably the least painful one I’ve ever had. To read more about endometrial scratches see this previous post.

Due to my absent period I’ve been on cylo-progynova. I took the last tablet at the beginning of last week and my period started last Friday when I was on holiday in Somerset for the Easter weekend – great timing! The clinic tried to make me come back for a baseline scan on Sat but I refused as we’d only got to Somerset on Thursday. We were staying at my in-laws cottage (they weren’t there) so it wasn’t like we were going to loose any money but I got a bit pissed off with the clinic as I didn’t need to come back quite that early for the baseline scan. In the end I agreed to go in on Easter Sunday so we drove back from Somerset on Sat afternoon.

The scan was fine so I was able to start my meds. Because of my previous cycle where the lining collapsed we’re trying a different protocol. I’ve started taking a stimulation drug, Fostiman every other day. That’s it (apart from supplements like Vit E). It feels a bit weird not to be taking more pills – oestrogen, Viagra etc. I’ve not taken Fostimon before I’ve usually taken Gonal F for stimulation but I don’t seem to have too many side effects, probably because it’s a low dosage. I have had to start getting up to go to the loo early in the morning which always happens during stimulation for me. The Fostimon is bloody expensive too, which is typical of my clinic. It feels weird doing the stimulation knowing we aren’t going to collect the eggs. I have a scan tomorrow to see how the lining is doing. I had acupuncture yesterday and another session lined up next week to help the lining – fingers crossed it works.

In other news I’ve been really busy at work working late most nights, I got sick with a nasty cold so the last few weeks have been tiring. I also had friends staying for a long weekend which was really lovely but hectic. I really did need a break though so the long Easter weekend was very welcome, as mentioned we went to Somerset for a few days and managed to get out for a hike and visited a few cute villages. I took an extra couple of days off work after the bank holiday and we were able to get some stuff done around the house. Speaking of which we recently had planning permission granted so we’re about to go ahead with an extension which is very exciting, I can’t wait to get a new kitchen!

Because of the recent announcement of the General Election the long hours at work will actually decrease a bit despite the fact I’m a civil servant. This is good timing if I do get to transfer as I won’t be quite so tired. However, it does mean that work is going to be even busier after the election!

I’ve started my driving lessons too. They’ve not been too bad although I do have a few sweaty moments! Learning to drive in London is not that easy – there is a lot of traffic!

I’m planning some slightly more relaxing activities in the run up to my (fingers crossed) transfer!

 

 

 

 

Waiting…waiting…waiting

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You do a lot of waiting when you go through IVF. Waiting for (note not an exhaustive list!):

  • Your period so you can start your IVF round (whilst at the same time hoping it doesn’t come and you’ve experienced a miraculous pregnancy)
  • Your follicles to grow. And then to grow to the right size ready for egg collection
  • Scans (if your clinic is like mine you turn up on time and they keep you waiting as they’re always running late)
  • How many eggs you have following egg collection and the quality of your partner’s sperm ready for fertilisation
  • The fertilisation phone call (heart in mouth as you find out how many embryos you have)
  • Update phone calls (to tell you how many embryos you still have, how many have stopped growing, how many are dividing abnormally)
  • Confirmation of transfer (day 3 or 5 usually) or how many embryos you can freeze
  • PGS results
  • Womb lining to thicken (especially if having a frozen transfer)
  • Embryos to defrost (if a frozen transfer)
  • Your bladder to be full for transfer (and nearly weeing yourself once it is)
  • TWO WEEK WAIT (one of the worst waits of all, crazy time symptom spotting)
  • Pregnancy test results (whether you do it yourself or have a test at the clinic)
  • Waiting for a viability scan (also one of the worst waits of all)
  • A miscarriage to start (goes without saying that this is shit)
  • For a review with the consultant
  • To start all over again

I’m currently waiting for my period. I stopped my medication after my cancelled transfer on 3 March so I’ve been waiting for just over 2 weeks but apart from a bit of period pain now and then nothing. I had a scan today and lining is a pretty thin 3.5mm but no sign of period. So the clinic have put me on cyclo-progynova for 21 days to build a bit of lining and then give me a period. They didn’t think that 7 days of norithisterone (which is what you’d usually have in this situation to bring on a bleed) would do the trick as the lining was too thin so my body wouldn’t play ball. So that’s another 3 weeks before I can even begin to prepare for transfer. I’ve been preparing for transfer since January so I’m pretty fed up.

On the plus side I can hopefully repeat the scratch as my last one was Jan so it was touch and go as to whether it would have any effect by now. Waiting 2

 

Cancelled transfer – again

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This FET seems doomed. My transfer’s been cancelled again. Last month it was because of my high thyroid levels. The good news is a blood test last week showed TSH at 1.2 which is great (ideally you want it between 1-2). I’m staying on the thyroxine.

This cycle has been weird from the start. I started on the oestrogen on day 3 of my cycle but my period went on for about 2 weeks. There was a bit of stopping and starting but it definitely wasn’t spotting – really it was like 2 periods. I phoned my clinic a number of times but they didn’t seem too concerned. Then they scanned me on what should’ve been day 10 of oestrogen but was only 1 day after my period stopped. My lining was only 3.5. I had all sorts of oestrogen added (see my last post) but by the next scan it had only gown to 5.2. Whilst I’ve had issues with my lining before it’s never been this slow growing. I had another scan on Friday and the lining had actually gone down to 4. The Dr could also see a tiny bit of fluid. This suggested it was starting to break down. It didn’t make any sense to continue.

I’m now waiting for my period to start so we can go into transfer attempt no. 3. This time my clinic are trying a different protocol which has apparently worked well for other women with thin lining. I’m going to be mildly stimulated so that my body thinks it’s a normal cycle, rather than shutting down my ovaries. I’ll then be triggered before starting on the oestrogen. The thinking is that my body will produce some of it’s own hormones and therefore oestrogen and be more receptive to the oestrogen I’m receiving. It’ll be weird being stimulated – I thought I was done with all that. The quality doesn’t mater as the eggs aren’t being collected (which seems a bit of a waste) and I’m not allowed to have sex when I’m triggered. I was triggered in a natural FET a few years ago (though not stimulated) and was told the same thing which I ignored. This time I think I’ll have to take their advice, whilst the chances of getting pregnant given my egg quality and my husbands sperm is very low we probably can’t risk it as we’re transferring donor PGS tested embryos.

I’m pretty frustrated but trying not to let it get me down. Plus we have to pay a fee for the cancelled cycle – that smarts!

I mentioned last post about my pregnant friend who is due the same time as I would’ve been. I’ve now go in touch with her and felt much better as a result. It will still be strange for me when her baby is born and I’m not sure when I’ll go and see her but I think I will. She does understand having been through so much herself.

ivf-bills

 

 

Lining issues – again! And Viagra.

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I had an appointment at the clinic on Mon to see how my lining was shaping up after 10 days on the oestrogen. Given I’d had a 2 week on off period (usually only happens to me after a miscarriage) I knew that my lining would be thin. I was right, it was just over 3mm. The Dr wasn’t surprised either as given the bleeding there wouldn’t have been time for it to build. So I now have to increase my oestrogen tablets adding another vaginal one, I’m also on Viagra (!) to increase blood flow, plus aspirin and I had to buy this oestrogen liquid to inject in my bum (its like the progesterone in oil) – I was not amused by this as it’s £300 a vial  (f**k me) but luckily one vial lasts for ages. I’m also not keen on medication in oil that needs to be injected into muscles- my experience of the progesterone was very unpleasant and it took months to get rid of the hard lump in my right buttock.

My current medication:

  • 3 x progynova oestrogen tablets orally and 3 x vaginally a day
  • 2 x oestrogen patches changed every other day
  • 0.4ml of oestrogen in oil injected into my bum twice a week
  • 50mg thyroxine each day
  • 40mg of clexane injected (to help blood flow)
  • 2 x Viagra

My supplements (to help lining / blood flow):

  • 800mg of vitamin E each day
  • 1 x aspirin

I also booked some acupuncture but unfortunately had to cancel it as due to storm Doris it took my 2 hours to get home from work the night I had the appointment. I’ve also been drinking raspberry leaf tea (I hate it – I think because I associate it with IVF) and drinking beetroot shots. I’ve got more acupuncture booked in next week. I ate a steak last night and am trying to eat nourishing foods. I’m also wearing socks in bed and sleeping with a hot water bottle on my stomach. I have no idea if these extras really help.

I was rescanned on Fri when my lining was 5mm. I’ve always had thinnish lining but it does seem to be taking a long time to thicken this cycle. The only good thing is that it’s triple striped so in good condition. Plus I’ve got pregnant on more than one cycle with thin lining.

Oh and the Viagra – I think I’m immune to it!! Initially I thought it might be making my lady parts a bit more sensitive but now I’m not really sure. I certainly haven’t felt the urge to have loads of sex – and I don’t feel sexy shoving 3 progynova up my vagina every day – sometimes a slightly blue tinged residue comes out.

I’ve got another scan on Wed so we’ll see. If it hasn’t thickened quite a bit there is a chance my cycle will be cancelled again.

Last week I also had my thyroid levels tested. I should get the results early next week. I really hope the thyroxine has worked.

In other news I’ve injured myself running (long and slightly hilarious story that involved me attempting to race 2 boys during a park run and pulling a muscle – at my age I should know better!) so I’ve had to cut down, instead I’ve been focussing on reformer pilates and yoga – probably a good idea as intense exercise such as running (especially the could possibly divert blood flow from my uterus.

I’ve also been baking a lot – cakes for my husband’s birthday and then my mum’s. My mum has had a bad back for a long time and we weren’t sure if she’d be up to going out so my sister and I made an afternoon tea and took it to her. My sis even made me some gluten free scones (she didn’t inflict these on others as to be honest it’s pretty hard to make scones as good when they’re gluten free) and made mini Victoria sponges gluten free. I made the coffee and walnut cake (also gluten free) and the blueberry polenta cake (gluten free) – see pics. Not sure I should be eating so much sugar at the moment though.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about friendships and how they’re affected by IVF – and seen quite a few posts from other bloggers about the same issue lately. A good friend is due to have her baby in a few weeks and I’ve been avoiding her and lately I’m really missing her (we both had fertility issues and her journey has been so very difficult). We were pregnant at the same time and my due date would’ve been just before hers which is the main reason I’ve been avoiding her. It’s weird as I haven’t dwelt as much on my other due dates, partly as I knew one of the pregnancies couldn’t have had a positive outcome as the chromosomal issue of the baby was incompatible with life outside the womb and the other 2 were also very probably chromosomal. This time we had a supposedly normal embryo and I know it was a girl as it was on my notes after I had it retested after the miscarriage – it just makes it harder when there is no reason and you know more about the baby. Anyway I want to get in touch with her before too much more time goes by, she totally understands but that almost makes it worse – I’ve cut out one person in my life who actually understands what I’m going through. Our friendship will change once her baby is born but I know she’ll still be there for me if I need her, just like 2 of my other friends who also went through tough infertility journeys before having their babies.

 

 

 

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A break away from IVF in Barcelona – but a body that now won’t play ball

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We had a wonderful break in Barcelona – it’s such a lovely city (I’ve been twice before). I like that it’s not that big a city so quite easy to travel round. We had a nice little apartment that was fairly central. My husband made me walk absolutely miles as he wanted to visit a few old haunts (he used to live there). We did a fair bit of sightseeing taking in the usual Gaudi sites of the Segrada Familia (unfortunately the towers were closed due to high winds) and the Casa Batllo, plus we went to Sant Pau hospital (no longer in use) which is not by Gaudi but is in the Art Nouveau style and is a damn sight cheaper than the Gaudi places – I thoroughly recommend it.

We enjoyed some fabulous food and drink (too much of both but then I suppose we were on holiday). I’d forgotten how good Cava is! I treated my husband to a fancy meal on Valentines Day (though that was more of a coincidence – really it was for his birthday this week) at a Michelin Star Restaurant up a tower with amazing views of Barcelona (thanks to my lovely friend Eva for recommending it). The food was outstanding – I even sort of enjoyed the octopus (it was a set menu and whilst I’ll eat most seafood octopus is my least favourite). See my pics of our meal and the view from the restaurant!

Plus we both ran the Barcelona half marathon. I was much faster than my half marathon back in October (8 mins faster), though slightly slower than I wanted to be, partly as it was very windy. It felt good to be back being reasonably competitive and I’m much fitter than I’ve been for the last year as well as looking slimmer.

The break was just what we needed. I even had time to read a book – The Power by Naomi Alderman – I really enjoy feminist utopia/dystopia novels – I’m a huge Margaret Attwood fan and this felt like it was along the same lines. I recommend it – it’s all about gender and power and corruption.

It was quite a shame to come back to the UK and have to go back to work. Plus I’m now on a health kick – no booze!

On the downside my body is not playing ball this cycle at all. I had to inject cetrotide on holiday to shut down my ovaries, and started on my estrogen tablets. and patches. However my period has been going on (and off) for 12days now. It’s very frustrating. I’ve got a scan tomorrow which will hopefully shed some light on it but I doubt very much I’ll have built up any lining. I’m not sure what this means for the timing of our cycle but I’m not going to stress until tomorrow.

Postponed transfer

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Today I made a decision to postpone my frozen transfer.

On Friday I had another blood test to check my iron levels and my thyroid. I got the results today and they showed my iron was right back up to a good level (yay for the iron liquid, steaks and spinach) but that my thyroid has continued to go up despite being on thyroxine for 1.5 weeks and is now at 3.9. I don’t have a history of poor thyroid function. Following my last miscarriage (which was unexplained as it was a PGS tested embryo) my thyroid was bang in the normal for fertility range (1.6). It has been a little high once before after my 3rd miscarriage (about 2.7) but never knowingly this high. For me it’s too high for comfort. In the UK a practising range appears to be 0.25 – 4.5 mIU/L. Some clinicians argue that upper TSH levels shouldn’t exceed 3 (despite what the wanker at my GP surgery said to me the other week) and many fertility experts say it shouldn’t be higher than 2.5. It’s also likely to rise during pregnancy so if it starts off high then this could be an issue. Studies have shown that high TSH causes miscarriage. It may also affect implantation though I found it hard to find definitive advice / research on this and my consultant said it wasn’t clear if it impacted on implantation or not.

After leaving a couple of panicky messages at my clinic my consultant finally phoned me back. He said to increase the thyroxine to 2 tablets a day. However, he was fairly ambivalent about transfer. In the end he agreed that on the whole it might be better to postpone. I think this was largely to appease me and partly because he couldn’t say one way or the other whether it would affect implantation. I actually felt quite relieved despite the waste of money and having put drugs into my body for no reason. It would be far worse if I’d transferred my 2 embryos tomorrow and then spent the next 2 weeks in even more of a panic than usual. If it failed I’d always feel I made a bad decision and we really are close to, if not at the end of our journey – we can’t afford to go ahead if things aren’t looking good.

As I’m going straight into another cycle my scratch shouldn’t need to be repeated. As of tonight I’m off the horrid fake hormones for a few days. Hopefully my period starts quite soon. Hopefully the thyroxine kicks in. Hopefully I’m only postponing for 2-3 weeks.

So whilst this has been a big fat waste of time, money and messing with my body for the last 4 weeks on the plus side I won’t be doing a pregnancy test whilst on holiday in Barcelona and I’ll allow myself to have a couple of drinks whilst there (though not too many as I’ve been so good this last month and don’t want to undo the good work), plus I won’t have to worry about avoiding certain foods. I’ve also got the most horrendous set of deadlines in my new job over the next week and was wondering how this would sit with the transfer and my desire to try and relax. I might try to take a couple of days off once I know when the new transfer date is though – it’s made me realise I was trying to juggle way too much this week.

I actually feel like I took back some control of my body and my mental health today. I didn’t realise how uncomfortable I was feeling about the transfer until I reflected on it tonight.

 

 

 

Rattling with drugs

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I’m now well into my preparation for my frozen transfer. Of course being me it’s been far from straightforward and I’ve come close to cancelling it.

Firstly I had a full blood count done in Nov and the hospital lost it, then they found it in Dec. This is my NHS hospital who also lost my recurrent miscarriage results back in Oct and accused me of not turning up for appointment. They are pretty crap and I hate slating the NHS because of the pressures they’re under, maybe their crapness is partly a result of curtailed funding/staff pressure. Anyway they showed very low iron, low calcium and rising thyroid (still borderline ok). As a runner low iron and calcium is super worrying (you can get stress fractures) and explained a bit my tiredness – though truth be told I didn’t actually feel too crap. As someone about to undertake IVF rising thyroid is not great, though my clinic was ok with it.

I insisted on repeating the tests after a few weeks (have to point out that this time the hospital didn’t lose them and returned the results THE SAME DAY!!!) and despite stuffing iron tablets down my face and trying to up my iron intake through diet my iron had dropped even lower – probably because the tablets give me an upset stomach. By this point I was starting to feel a bit crap. Calcium was ok (probably due to the huge amount of cheese and chocolate I ate over Christmas!). Thyroid was up again.  I phoned my GP but she wasn’t available so I had to speak to another GP at the practice. He was a massive wanker. Totally dismissed my concerns about my iron and my thyroid and gave me a patronising lecture about thyroids even though I told him it was now over the ideal for fertility – he disagreed (it was 3.7) he made me feel like an idiot and a time waster.  I’ve tried to get the nice GP to refer me for an iron injection but she said I would probably get refused on the grounds of not having low haemoglobin as well, she has done the referral though.

I had words with my clinic about the thyroid as I’d already told them I was getting quite concerned. By this point I was also on my oestrogen to build my lining for transfer. They dismissed my concerns. I told them I was cancelling the cycle. Within an hour I got a phone call from my consultant. He put me on thyroxine but even though TSH is over 2.5 he said he wasn’t too concerned.

In the meantime my lining did it’s usual thing of not thickening very quickly. Quality excellent but slow growth. I have had some acupuncture which has helped in the past – not sure its done much this time. I queried why the clinic didn’t put me on oestrogen patches as well as the tablets, as did the sonographer who scanned me. All of a sudden they added patches, massive dose of vitamin E, clexane and asprin. I was actually ok with it taking longer. It gave me longer to take the thyroxine and my new iron drink (and eat lots of steak). This week I finally got the go ahead to add progesterone. Usually I have cyclogest pessaries (or fanny bullets as we call them on one forum – American readers I’m not referring to the bum!) and last time I also had progesterone in oil injections (evil stuff). This time I’m on PIO, progesterone tablets and crinone gel.

I have a few concerns still – my lining was 7 on Monday and in my last cycle whcn I got the go-ahead to add progesterone it was 8.1. I do wonder if the oral oestrogen has just been going straight through me due to my upset stomach. However, my clinic treats everyone a bit like they’re on a conveyor belt (I’m not really warming to them but we are too far along to change clinics) and because they wouldn’t schedule a frozen transfer on the weekend and had run out of slots on the Monday I actually had a couple more days before I started the progesterone so hopefully the lining was a bit thicker once I started on progesterone and will have continued to thicken since. I’m hoping that having been on the thyroxine for nearly 2 weeks will mean my levels are reducing – I’ve had a blood test to check but am waiting for results.

So my drugs (and supplements currently go):

Daily

  • 1 x thyroxine tablet orally (25mg)
  • 3 x oestrogen tablets orally
  • 2 x oestrogen tablets vaginally
  • 6 x progesterone tablets orally
  • 2 x crinone gels vaginally
  • 4 x prednisolone orally (20mg)
  • 20mg of clexane injections
  • 800mg of vitamin e tablets
  • Baby asprin
  • Iron tablet or iron liquid
  • Usual multivitamin supplement

Every other day

  • Oestrogen patches x 2

3 times a week

  • Progesterone in oil injections.

I keep having to check I’m taking it all! This has to be an all time record. I also had some intralipids this week (I’m kind of over them – don’t really believe in them – but too scared to stop just in case).

And we’ve decided to transfer both embryos. Before freezing they were similarly good quality so I don’t think we should be too concerned about the research I posted about last time. Also, we got another lecture on twins from the embryologist. I’m comfortable with the risk. Given my history it’s unlikely both embryos would take and if they did and I managed to stay pregnant (again given history this is a big if) then we’d just deal with it.

Anyway, I’m off to take some more tablets!