It’s been a long time since I’ve last written about our IVF journey and a lot has happened. As I’m writing, I’m getting ready for a frozen embryo transfer (FET) after our IVF attempt number three. The second IVF that we had was the biggest disappointment so far and the reason why we decided to pursue treatment in another clinic.
Let me put things in order and tell you a bit more about what we went through. In the end of it all, I’d also like to tell you that if you’re not confident in the treatment that you’re receiving and you can, you should definitely look into the opportunities being offered by another clinic.
IVF Attempt Two: The Biggest Disappointment
Our first IVF was a complete failure. PCOS on my behalf and sperm morphology problems happened to be something that our treating physicians couldn’t handle. We didn’t even reach an embryo transfer since all of our little ones stopped developing.
We knew that the first in vitro is going to be a hit or a miss, which is why we decided to give the same clinic a second try.
Before the second IVF, my doctor didn’t assign any additional lab exams. This should have been a red flag but I decided to trust her. She told us that PCOS patients were difficult and it was a massive challenge pinpointing the right dosage. Once she nailed the dosage, everything would be fine… or at least this is what she assured us.
IVF attempt number two started with serious doses of Gonal-F and Merional. My body responded immediately by over 20 follicles starting to develop and my estrogen levels going through the roof.
Worried about eventual hyperstimulation, my doctor went back and forth with the doses. The Gonal-F was increased one day only to be decreased the day after because of skyrocketing estradiol.
Eventually, we had our egg retrieval. There were 23 follicles but only 13 eggs collected from those. From those eggs, nine were fertilized with ICSI. Everything was going fine until day three and we were pushed for a day five transfer on Monday.
When we went to the clinic for the embryo transfer, we were told that all of our embryos had arrested. One had made it to blastocyst but the quality was 5cc. We were shown a picture of the embryo and regardless of the fact that I’m not a medical professional, I could see that it didn’t look like a healthy blastocyst.
Skeptical about the whole thing, I did go through with an embryo transfer. Needless to say, there was no implantation. We ended up with a BFN and absolutely no hope. Our doctor said that nothing could be done and we should simply keep in having IVFs until a healthy batch of follicles started maturing.
IVF 3: New Hope and a New Clinic
At this point of time, it was obvious that our doctor couldn’t do anything more for us. She had made serious mistakes with the stimulation protocol both times and she didn’t offer us a viable solution that could potentially lead to better results during our third attempt.
This is when we decided to look for another clinic. We had heard about IVF in Turkey, particularly – Memorial Hospital. The Istanbul clinics are known for the excellent specialists and for the great price to quality ratio. I sent them an email and we were scheduled for a first appointment.
During the first appointment, we met with the head of the clinic who said she believed our stimulation wasn’t carried out correctly. There were massive fluctuations in the med doses, which had an impact on the quality of the eggs. I was asked to do a few additional exams and here’s what we found out in the aftermath:
- I didn’t have HSG performed to check my Fallopian tubes and their health – an absolute essential prior to IVF
- My TSH was high – it has to be kept within certain limits
- My prolactin was high
- Upon further investigation, it was found out that I have a microadenoma in the pituitary gland. The microadenoma produces very high quantities of prolactin, making it difficult for me to get pregnant naturally
- I could have been treated with metformin for the PCOS and to improve egg quality
Based on this information, we knew that our second IVF was doomed right from the start.
Prior to getting started with IVF number three, I underwent a few months of therapy to bring the TSH and prolactin to normal levels. Upon reaching a healthy range, we packed our bags and left for Istanbul.
The stimulation started with much lower doses than what I’d been given previously – 150 units of Gonal-F. These were gradually increased to 175 units, which was my final dosage. The change in meds was slow and controlled. As a result, the follicles were growing at the same time and there weren’t vast differences in their size.
On egg retrieval day, we had 23 follicles. They produced 23 eggs. Of these, 17 fertilized.
Unfortunately, the same problem occurred again and our embies slowed down on day two. By day three, we had two grade I embryos, two grade II embryos and all of the others were slow in their development.
This was the moment when I started thinking that the attempt was doomed once again. Luckily, by day five we had two good quality blastocysts that were frozen due to a hyperstimulation risk. I was given two months to recover. In October 2017, we’ll be back to have our ebryo transfer.
Listen to Your Gut and Change Your Fertility Clinic When in Doubt
While our results are far from what I’d been expecting, we at least have hope this time. Two high quality blasts are definitely much better than zero and I’ll take those results over the previous ones any given day.
What I’d like to share with all of you going through the same is that you have to trust your instincts. While your doctor is the professional responsible for making your dreams come true, don’t trust them blindly. Humans make mistakes. If you’re not confident, you should always seek a second opinion.
It turned out that I had trusted the wrong person who more or less scammed us for money the second time around. We didn’t even have a basic hormonal panel done and the high prolactin rendered all fertility procedures needless.
I’m now getting prepared for my frozen embryo transfer and I’ll do my best to write about it. We’re hopeful that third time would be the charm and we’ll make our dreams come true.