Why we skipped to IVF after one IUI
I've talked to so many different people over the last few months, since telling everyone about our struggle with infertility. Everyone from a therapist, to others experiencing infertility themselves, to others who have gone through years of miscarriages, failed IUI's, failed IVF cycles and more. I've experienced first hand the mental stresses that have come along with it, and see it on others.
January/February was probably the lowest time for me. My mental health was not in a good state. I was miserable. I isolated myself from my family, my friends, and at work I was miserable. I have experienced bouts of anxiety, and moderate depression from time to time, I've been lucky it's been minimal and usually very situational. This experience had consumed everything about me. We had been trying to conceive for almost a year, we had kept it to ourselves and I had been waiting two months to see a specialist. We finally got into the clinic January 9th, and I felt like all of the research I had done, all of the things I had tried were completely dismissed by the doctor. Every little attempt I had made to try and better my odds were not recommended by him and unnecessary. At first this made me feel like a giant idiot.
I understand more now.
When we left the clinic we were told to keep doing what we were doing. This moment still haunts me. I think I was in shock and instead of being able to clearly tell my doctor what we had done/tried, ensuring our timing was perfect, I sat there silently, stunned and not sure how to react. If you're ever going to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist / Infertility specialist, please take a full list of questions with you, so you have a full list of what to ask. Here's my list of questions.
As we left the office I knew I needed more answers. I started compiling my list and emailed it to the clinic. The doctor was completely accommodating and actually called me to discuss all of my questions and concerns. If I would have had that list of questions with me, my first appointment would have been so much more simple.
We hadn't discussed a treatment plan. We hadn't figured out what our next steps would be. I decided after our chemical pregnancy and 3 more attempts, I was ready to move on. My mental health couldn't take it anymore. We went through our first IUI in May. We were hopeful, but the success rate on an IUI is low. According to AmericanPregnancy.org the possibility of pregnancy with an IUI may reach 20% per cycle. When you think about how low this is, it's actually a bit terrifying. They can time everything from the release of the egg, to the distribution of sperm, but there's nothing they can do to guarantee meeting and implantation.
We had every intention of trying another IUI. We figured we'd get right back into it the next month, but two or three days before my cycle was going to start, I ended up getting a notice that we had been approved for government funding for IVF for our July cycle. IVF is extremely expensive and getting the funding support is one of the biggest reasons we decided to move right to it. I don't know if it's an option to push off the funding, nor did I want to, after 16 months of trying, this was our best chance of having a baby.
IVF has a much higher success rate, and also provides more opportunity for future pregnancies. As you get older, your ovarian reserve, or egg count depletes. When you start IVF, any embryos you make at the time remain the same age that you were at the time of the retrieval. All of my eggs were going to stay 31. As I get older, I don't have to worry as much about quality decreasing, because these little embabies were harvested at a more ideal time.
For me it's important, because we have the chance to transfer these embryos later on as I get older. I could be over 40 to transfer and I'd still be using 31 year old embryos. If we choose to have more kids down the line, we have these embryos safely stored in the freezer, we can defrost, preheat the oven and toss in another bun.
So the three reasons we opted for IVF after first IUI were as follows:
1. Financially, we had the coverage that made this affordable. Delaying it wasn't necessarily an option.
2. IVF has much higher success rates than IUI.
3. We have embryos we can use for future cycles, we can use our younger embryos, but we extend the time frame we are able to conceive as we don't have to worry about older embryos.
I know IVF isn't for everyone, but for me, it was our best opportunity to start a family, and I would advocate for it for anyone who's physically or mentally drained by their infertility journey. For me, it gave me hope I had been missing for so long.