Fertility struggles are very real today. Women are attempting to get pregnant much later in life. Our grandparents were often pregnant in their late teens, our parents in their twenties, and us… more and more we’re trying in our thirties.
It’s no surprise that fertility struggles have spiked over the last few decades. A woman is considered old in the world of fertility when she’s 35, as fertility starts to decline drastically.
My husband and I were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. Such a frustrating place to be. There is basically no reason that can be found for our struggles. But, we’ve struggled to get pregnant.
We tried for over 1 year before seeking advice from a fertility clinic. That’s what is recommended by professionals if you are under the age of 35 (trying for a full year). After those 12 months of disappointment, we were eager to seek help.
We both underwent testing. I had a laparoscopic procedure done to just take a look at how things looked inside of me. Nothing was found to be wrong. I had an HSG completed and blood work. My husband had a semen analysis and blood work. Nothing came up in any of these tests.
So, unexplained infertility it is.
Our doctor decided to use an IUI protocol with us (Intrauterine Insemination). It worked on the first try. I was beyond impressed. We now have a 3.5-year-old as a result.
Now, 4 years later, we are trying again. Only this time, we are on our second cycle and haven’t yet seen results. I’m hopeful though because this process is a remarkable one.
Intrauterine Insemination can stand alone, or be done with stimulation. We’ve always done stimulated cycles, so I’ll explain the full process of that here:
Clomid is an oral medication. It basically stimulates ovulation. It blocks estrogen receptors. When this happens, our body produces FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). These hormones work in conjunction to start the ovulation process. So basically, Clomid is helping ovulation occur.
This is typically taken on days 3-7 of your cycle.
2. Follicle Stimulating Hormone Injections
These types of injections are basically FSH. FSH specifically helps to grow and mature follicles. I’ve taken both Bravelle and Gonal F. I’m not sure there’s much different in the two injections. They serve the same purpose- to grow a good follicle.
3. Trigger Shot
A shot is used to time the release of a mature egg (the ovulation process). Based on the timing of this shot, the doctor knows the exact timing of when to do the IUI procedure. The trigger shot is made up of human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. Yes you read that right… this is the pregnancy hormone.
As soon as your body becomes pregnant is releases HCG into your system and this is what we detect in blood levels to confirm pregnancy. HCG is chemically similar enough to LH to work in the same way. LH tells our body to start ovulation and release the egg. This trigger shot, is able to effectively do the same, allowing us to time IUI with the release of the egg.
The IUI consists of two parts:
First, a semen collection and sperm wash. In this process, semen is deposited into a cup. The semen is washed- basically separating out the sperm from the seminal fluid. The good sperm prevail and are collected in a pellet. This is then placed into a catheter.
Second, the catheter is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterus. The sperm is injected through the catheter, and hopefully a pregnancy results.
5. Progesterone Capsules
Progesterone capsules are inserted into the vagina starting the day after IUI. The progesterone helps to keep the uterine lining intact, and holds off on menstruation, giving the egg more time for implantation, and thus gives pregnancy a better chance.
Success rates? I’ve read anywhere from 8-20% chance of success each month. While this isn’t a huge success rate, for us Mama’s that have fertility issues, it is! I got pregnant on my first IUI cycle back in 2014 (after having tried for 1.5 years on our own with no luck), and I’m now on my second round of cycles in 2018. This time around, I’m on my second cycle of IUI and currently waiting to hear my news. Keeping my fingers crossed that I see such great success again!