This is the theme for National Infertility Awareness Week 2016!
There are so many topics that we could talk about with the hashtag #StartAsking but my focus will be about being an advocate for yourself and asking questions to your ObGyn or Reproductive Endocrinologist.
When you are trying to have a child, many questions go through your mind. Some you ask and some you keep to yourself. At first, I thought my questions were foolish or that I shouldn’t question my ObGyn or RE, I mean they are the Dr.’s, they know more than me right?? But if there is one thing that I have learned through all of this is that you need to be an advocate for yourself. No question is foolish, no suggestion is crazy, no one is on your side more than you.
So here are some tips and questions to #StartAsking:
#1: ObGyns are NOT Reproductive Endocrinologists, but #StartAsking the basics.
I did this myself. I would ask my ObGyn questions about fertility and trying to get pregnant and I got no where. I didn’t even know what to ask at the beginning stages. But the three major things I would ask if you are questioning your fertility is for : AMH and FSH tests, an HSG test to see if your fallopian tubes are clear and a semen analysis for your husband. Those are three things your ObGyn should be able to do for you(and recommend a place for your husband’s semen analysis) and if any results are off, then go to a Reproductive Endocrinologist asap. Don’t waste any more time. ObGyns are great for delivering babies but most do not have the time or knowledge to help you get pregnant…especially if you might have a major issue.
#2: Once you have an RE, #StartAsking for copies of your results
Your RE has many patients. But you are your only patient. You should either receive copies of all of your results or take photos of them. I am a big promoter of this. Sometimes doctors get confused or something is forgotten….accidents happen. But, if you write down all of your results, you can compare, you can keep track, you can research for yourself. You never know, you might end up solving your own issue!
#3 #StartAsking to test your levels of Vitamin D, MTHFR, TSH
I know there are many more tests but these 3 are major.
Vitamin D: low levels of Vitamin D might be hindering your ability to get pregnant. If you have low Vitamin D levels and take a supplement, that may be all you need!
MTHFR: is something I wish all RE’s would test at the beginning. Too many wonderful women (in this blog world and online) have lost healthy babies to MTHFR. Heartbreaking. With a simple blood test, you will know if you have MTHFR and if you need to take necessary actions. Most likely, you would take a folate supplement and sometimes injections throughout your pregnancy. I’ve seen many women go on to carry healthy babies to term once they have been diagnosed and treated accordingly.
TSH levels: Your thyroid is important. Your TSH level should be between 1-2. If it is not within that range, you should speak with your doctor about what steps you might need to take to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
#4 Before IVF, #StartAsking for a hysteroscopy
It blows my mind how many RE’s do not perform a routine hysteroscopy before an IVF cycle(or before that!) So if you have been trying to have a baby for a while, and you are about to spend thousands of dollars on IVF, why not make sure that you have a healthy uterus?? That is a large piece of the puzzle! I know many doctors say that the HSG will show if there is a problem with the uterus but that’s not always correct. My HSG showed my uterus looked fine. Then I had my hysteroscopy….and scar tissue was everywhere. Many times HSGs cannot see scar tissue or a lot of other problems inside the uterus. So, even if I would have transferred a healthy embryo, it would not have worked. Having a hysteroscopy should be a part of every IVF protocol. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen women go through 1, 2, 3 IVF cycles, all fail, to finally have a hysteroscopy and find problems. Problems that should have been corrected before they even went through one IVF cycle. It’s so sad that a procedure that cost maybe $700(or less if it’s covered by insurance) could have helped solve the problem. Many women after having operative hysteroscopies, go on to have a pregnancy the old fashioned way too, no IVF needed either. Definitely one procedure I would #StartAsking for.
#5 #StartAsking for a personalized IVF protocol
If you are with an RE that does the SAME protocol for every patient….beware. You cannot tell me that the same protocol on a 25 year old with a normal AMH/FSH will work the same on a 42 year old with Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Just doesn’t make sense. We are all different, our bodies are different. Different doses of medicine are necessary to encourage egg growth or, on the other hand, to prevent OHSS(Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) which can be extremely dangerous if not monitored closely.
#6 After a failed IVF(or 3) #StartAsking another RE
There is no harm in getting another opinion. I know that you may feel comfortable with your RE. That maybe you’ve been with them for years. But if they haven’t figured out your case, a new set of eyes is sometimes the best next step. There is no “right” way about infertility. And some RE’s are just set in their ways. If they are not willing to listen to your questions or concerns…simply move on.
I could probably write many more but I’ll stop here. Now, these are just my opinions from going through the IVF process numerous times. I am not a doctor…which is why you should #StartAsking your doctor.
Be your own advocate. Listen to your gut. Know your body. Understand protocols. Research your condition. Read medical papers. Ask questions.
And when you do that…you are not only advocating for yourself but for your future child.
You are opening doors for your baby before they are even in your arms.
You are fighting for them before they are even created.
You are being a Mother.
You are already a Mother, when you #StartAsking
#NIAW 2016 #StartAsking