Part 1: No Answers with IVF
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Andi, of Little Ears Audiology to talk to her about her own story with infertility. Andi’s story gives us the unique opportunity to see two different treatment approaches for infertility: the standard American medical approach, which usually involves working around the problem with IVF, and the NaPro TECHNOLOGY approach, which seeks to find and treat the root cause of the infertility so the woman can conceive naturally.
Andi and her husband easily conceived and were blessed with a son in 2009. He was born via C-Section after a diagnosis of failure to progress in labor. In 2012 Andi and her husband were excited to find that they were expecting again. Their joy turned into a heartbreaking loss as Andi was rushed into emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, a condition which can be fatal to the mother if not treated immediately. She lost the baby and also her fallopian tube, which ruptured. At this point, Andi had experienced the loss of her unborn baby, and had also suffered two traumatic surgical experiences related to becoming a mother.
Another 18 months passed and Andi and her husband were unable to conceive. She visited her OB/Gyn to begin trying to make sense of what was going on with her body. Her doctor’s solution was to offer her the drug Clomid, a drug which causes the body to ‘super ovulate.’ She asked the doctor how she would be monitored, to ensure that she wasn’t doing any kind of damage to her body, as Clomid is a potent drug with known risks. Her doctor shrugged and said that “they just give the drug and see if it works.” They chose not to proceed with this recommendation.
Because of the ectopic pregnancy, Andi was concerned about the viability of her remaining fallopian tube. She decided to visit a Reproductive Endocrinologist to have an HSG test done. This is a test where dye is first inserted into the tubes, then the doctor uses X-Ray to watch the dye moving through the tubes to determine if the tubes are open. The doctor struggled at first to get the dye to move through the tube, having to readjust and force more pressure through in order to get the dye to move. The doctor pronounced the results as normal, though Andi always felt concerned that it had taken so much trouble to force the dye through the tube. She was still left with the question of why she could not conceive.
Another year went by. They visited another office in the same RE group to begin the standard process of infertility treatments. She had blood drawn on one day in her cycle to test several hormones specifically related to ovulation. She had an ultrasound to see if she had any noticeable masses in her uterus. After her evaluation, the doctor presented her with the treatment plan: they would be using the most aggressive infertility treatment of IVF with ICSI. The cost, which would largely not be covered by their high deductible insurance plan, would be $15,000.
I asked her what her diagnosis was. “Unexplained infertility,” she replied, “Basically he shrugged his shoulders. I don’t know, but this is what we do for it.”
When asked how she felt about this treatment plan, she replied, “ I never felt good about it. I didn’t want to put drugs in my body that could possibly cause cancer. It might not work, and then we’d be out all that money. And then, if they created all of these embryos of ours, what would we do with the ones that were frozen?”
She and her husband walked away from this process knowing it wasn’t for them, feeling disappointed and perhaps a bit hopeless.
“I felt like I needed counseling after seeing this RE and there was no support. It was very emotional. Maybe even embarrassing. When you walk in the door, you know why everyone is there. It's just such a sad place. It’s like we’re all broken. It’s this unspoken grief that everyone shares. Guys walk in with their brown paper bags, and you know what’s in there. The emotional aspect of why we were all there was never addressed. I felt like, why am I broken? Why can’t anyone tell me? The RE was a nice man. I liked him. He was funny! But I wouldn’t call him compassionate. He saw me as having a problem that he could work around and fix. It was all very medical, very sterile.”
Feeling dissatisfied with her experience with the mainstream medical community, she began seeing a nurse midwife for her well woman care. She explained that her cycles were beginning to change. They were growing much shorter, often with one cycle beginning just 23 or 24 days after the last. She had begun to experience debilitating pain around the time of ovulation, and pain during intercourse. She experienced odd sensations of pressure in her pelvic area. She reported all of this to her midwife, who was understanding, but could offer no other answers. Andi and her husband were given the choice to try intrauterine insemination (IUI) with the midwife. The cost was much less than IVF, so she and her husband attempted it.
“We hated it,” she said, “it was like we were brought to a whole new low with this process. And of course it didn’t work anyway.” She related how she was feeling increasingly traumatized by these types of invasive tests and procedures, which were exacerbating the pelvic pain she’d been experiencing.
“Nobody would take me seriously,” she said, “I felt deep down that something was wrong, anatomically. Pain isn’t normal. I shouldn’t be in pain.”
During this time, Andi had begun working at the birth center doing hearing screenings for newborns, when her midwife tracked her down one day, excited to tell her about a conference she had been to. In mid-2015, the midwife had learned of NaPro TECHNOLOGY and wanted Andi to consider looking into it to treat her infertility.
……………….To be continued in part II of Andi’s story.
Thanks for reading! I'd love to connect with you! I can be reached at ShirelleEdghill@gmail.com