I didn’t just wake up one day and discover that I was infertile. It took lots of time, doctors visits, and diagnostic testing. We tried for over six months on our own to get pregnant without any medical intervention. At around 6 or 7 months, I went for a check up to my OB doctor and told him that we’d been trying. He drew some labs and later diagnosed me with PCOS. He put me on a small dose of Metformin and told me to continue trying for a few months. After that didn’t work, I went back to my OB and he decided to put me on Clomid. Usually MD’s will do that for a few rounds before referring to a specialist or REI doctor. So, we did three rounds (kinda like three months) of Clomid with no success. At that point, I knew it was time for something else.
After doing lots of research (and discovering that my insurance does not cover IVF) I found a REI doctor that I liked and trusted and Evan and I went and had a consult with him. He decided to increase my dosage of Metformin and ordered more labs including genetic testing. We then tried three rounds of Femara (which is a medication very similar to Clomid but tends to have greater success with PCOS patients.) After the three rounds of Femara didn’t work, the next step was intrauterine insemination. I found out that my insurance covers six lifetime IUIs so we decided to try it out. We went through three rounds of IUI without success. By this time, my doctor decided that IVF was the next logical step. While anxious, we were frustrated, tired and agreed that IVF seemed like the next best option.
Before my REI doctor would start the treatments for IVF, he ordered a HSG or hysterosalpingogram. This is pretty standard diagnostic testing that is ordered before beginning such intense treatment. I had heard so many terrifying things about this procedure. I had read blogs that said women thought it was the most painful thing that they had ever gone through. At the advice of the blogs and discussion posts, I decided to take the suggested Ibuprofen before the procedure. I went in to the surgery center at my REI’s office and they had me change into a gown. They took me back to a sterile room, injected dye into my uterus and then were able to take x-rays of my uterus and fallopian tubes. I had so much anxiety about this procedure, but it was such a breeze. It hurt for about three seconds as the dye was being injected. I asked my doctor when the procedure would start and he told me that he had already injected the dye (the painful part.) When the dye was going in, it felt like horrible cramps, but they quickly went away. The whole procedure was over in less than five minutes and I was released immediately to go home. I was embarrassed that I had even been so scared over this minor test. But, not all people are blessed with a REI doctor who is quick and knows exactly what he is doing. Turns out, the test showed that everything was completely normal which didn’t help explain why the Clomid, Femara, and three IUIs had not worked.
At one of our last consult visits before beginning IVF, my doctor decided that he wanted to cover all the bases as far as diagnostic tests were concerned. Despite my PCOS, he said at this point my infertility was “unexplained.” I, theoretically, should have had success with the treatments that had been provided. So, he decided to do a hysteroscopy. I thought I had done all the normal diagnostic tests, so I didn’t have time to research this one beforehand. He said he could do it that day in the office so that we could get it over with. I was relieved to not have to come back to the office so I decided to go ahead and do it. Holy cow. A hysteroscopy is a test where they basically put a “telescope” through the vagina AND cervix and into the actual uterus. It’s used to check for polyps, scar tissue, etc. I was not prepared for the amount of pain caused by this test. In theory, it would have been cool to see because there was a screen where I could see the inside of my uterus. My doctor was trying to explain everything and show me, but I was in too much pain to even open my eyes. He was able to quickly look at everything he needed and it was over in a few minutes. Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone who might be going to have a hysteroscopy. Everyone’s pain levels are completely different. But, I do suggest taking some kind of over the counter pain reliever before and after the test. As much as the hysteroscopy hurt, I would do it ten thousand times over if it meant having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
In short, if you are getting either of these diagnostic tests done or know anyone who is having them done, don’t freak out. I am so, so glad that we did them and are able to definitively know that nothing is wrong. As painful as the hysteroscopy was, it was so worth it if it means that I’m that much closer to becoming pregnant. Throughout this entire infertility process, I try to keep the end goal in mind: holding my beautiful child. And if it means that I have to go through all of this in order to be a mom, I’ll do it.
—Diagnostic testing may include: ovulation testing, hysterosalpingography, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, imaging tests, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, or genetic testing.— (Mayo Clinic, 2017)