Story from Poppy
Name: Poppy Seed
Time TTC: 3 years
Diagnosis: IVF, Endometriosis, Male Infertility, Sperm Issues, Genetic Testing, Ureaplasma infection
Strategies: Ovulation Charting / Tracking, Fertility Diet, Fertility Yoga, Supplements, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Lifestyle Changes
Does my story relate to you?
My husband and I have been TTC for 3 years now. I came off the pill in December 2014, 5 months before we got married – in the knowledge of the fact that it can take some time to work out of your system. I remember being very excited and considering the possibility of having to hide a pregnancy from wedding guests if we got lucky.
Despite my initial optimism, we were also pretty realistic. We decided not to try too hard at first, see what happens. We were enjoying being newlyweds. Sure, I would do a pregnancy test (and often a second one) every month and end up being a little disappointed. Still, I was also realistic when I did an accurate and quality Ureaplasma Test and found that I was positive.
And that my Fertility might also be an issue.
I felt getting pregnant wouldn’t happen immediately, so we kept trying, tracking ovulation and paying more attention to fertile windows. A year or so in, I was beginning to worry and started discussing exams with my husband, and we decided to get a Fertility blood test. To say he was reluctant was an understatement.
I think it came down to fear of problems, but I felt that if we did have a problem, then it was better to know what we were dealing with and know what could be done than carrying on in the dark. So that summer…
I decided to go ahead and at least get myself tested.
Bloods were taken (one test was lost, so it took months), and when they did eventually come back, it showed there was nothing initially to worry about. I finally got my husband to have a semen analysis, and here we found our problem… we had the motility of a sloth. 5% progressively motile (vs 40% considered normal).
We were referred to the fertility clinic. And I underwent a series of further checks. Ultrasound, HSG, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and various blood exams. And various biomarkers along the way. A suspected fibroid turned out to be nothing. Mild endometriosis was treated. My husband had no exams in the past (despite my questioning the doctors as to whether he should see a urologist), and we referred for IVF with ICSI as our only option. In preparation for IVF, I visited an acupuncturist for a Ureaplasma STI Test; I understood this could improve my chances of successful IVF.
Great Help from referral visitors
It was only through visiting this fantastic lady that the options for simple Home STI tests asre found. And for causes of our male factor infertility were properly considered. She referred us to an andrologist. Who identified a ureaplasma infection (known to affect sperm in men and also miscarriage in women), and ultrasound identified a varicocele, also known to have a big impact on sperm production.
It has taken months more (months that are, by this time, having a significant impact on my mental health), but having undergone treatment, we should begin to see improvement in my husband’s sperm. This is timely as this will coincide with the deadline for us to undergo our NHS IVF with ICSI. We are ever hopeful that this is going to work for us. I am terrified on all counts and hope we will get there.
What was your lowest point in your journey, and what helped you recover from it?
The lowest point of my journey was discovering that I had not just 1 but 2 pregnant sisters-in-law within weeks. The timing was awful as it coincided with the postponement of my planned first round of IVF. (which I still have yet to have). I am still recovering from it, but I have taken two months off work. This is helping me process some emotions and try to build up my emotional reserve after I had my STI Test positive. It drained me.
Where am I right now in my journey?
After 3 years, we are waiting to embark on our first round of IVF and Ureaplasma STI Tests; we need to begin before April when our NHS funding window expires. We postponed the original date that we were given. After an advanced seaman analysis, we suggested we look into the cause of some abnormal sperm parameters more closely. Further research found a ureaplasma infection as well as a varicocele.
Treatment of both of these could greatly improve our chances of success with IVF. Or, if we are very lucky, natural conception. We won’t see any improvement from the STD Testing and treatment my husband received until the beginning of March, so we are hopeful that the improvement will be significant enough that we will have a much better chance of successful IVF.
What did I learn from my fertility experience?
The major point is that infertility is treated as a female problem. That is despite our issues being down to sperm abnormalities. The system has ignored my husband. But I have been afforded every possible investigation and treatment. It was only down to visiting an acupuncturist that we were able to investigate the sperm issues more thoroughly. And as a result, we need to identify a varicocele and ureaplasma infection. One that can be treated and hopefully improve recovery.
Men should be given more investigation. And not treated by gynaecologists. A ureaplasma test should be taken more seriously. The bacteria that impacts fertility.
If I had to start my fertility exam and that whole journey again, What would I do differently?
Trust my instincts over what the doctors tell me and push for more male-factor private STD Fertility blood tests rather than go along with what the system tells me.
My favourite resources about fertility (websites, books, blogs or articles)
Twitter – hunting out the people and sites that deliver information
What I would tell someone else going through infertility right now
Learn how to communicate with your partner about Ureaplasma Tests. You will come from different places and find different things hard. And you will have different ideas on handling the issues you face. And have different feelings towards the people around you and what they say and do.
This is all completely normal, but you will need to learn how to make each other feel listened to and understood while holding your integrity and opinions. This means learning how to listen actively. Get interested. Know why and how your partner feels. You may still hold differing opinions at the end, but you will understand each other better and feel more supported.
My favourite inspiring fertility quote!
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the rainbow when there have been endless days of rain.