Resolve to know more about your treatment


National Infertility Awareness Week is coming to an end. I wanted to do one more post in honor of it and to be a part of the Bloggers Unite Challenge (we are celebrating 25 years after all!).

After 29 months of regular doctors’ appointments, I’ve realized how important it is to be your own advocate with your treatment plan. No one know yours medical history as well as you do. No one cares about the outcome of your treatment as much as you do. It is up to you to keep your doctors and nurses on their toes and ensure you are getting the best treatment possible. It’s not always easy to second guess your doctor, but they are people too and no one is perfect. Since I’ve taken a more active role in my treatment, I feel more empowered and more confident of the path I’m on. Here are some tips that have helped me take charge of my treatment:

Ask questions. This one is obvious, but easier said then done. It is very important to understand why a doctor may choose one way over another. Don’t be shy, a good doctor will be thrilled to explain his methods. Why start stims on day 3 instead of day 5? Why implant 2 embryos instead of 1? If you think of something after your appointment, call your clinic’s nurses line!

Do your research. Before choosing an IVF clinic (if you’re lucky enough to have multiple in your area) check out their stats on SART (Society for Assistant Reproductive Technology). All IVF clinics are required to report their stats to them, so it’s a great place to compare success rates. You can also compare your clinic to the national success rates. The stats I find to be the most indicative of a good clinic are percentage of cycles resulting in live births for fresh and thawed cycles (don’t ignore the # of embryos implanted or cycles cancelled either).

Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, question it. I’ve followed too many instructions that I wasn’t comfortable with to later regret it. If you feel like you need to do the IUI 24 hours after trigger instead of 36 hours, let them know. Obviously you need to take the doctor’s opinion to heart, but perhaps they weren’t thinking of something in your history. I’ve had nurses look at my history too quickly and give me the wrong dosing schedule. It’s up to you to know your history and be your own advocate!

Get a second opinion. Some doctors are better than others, some are more familiar with your specific condition, and some just may have more experience than others. It’s important for you to be comfortable with your doctor. If you just aren’t jiving with your doctor, find another one. Both times I’ve requested a change in doctors it’s even been within the same office. No one should question your desire to change, don’t be nervous to make the call, it’s more typical than you think.

Utilize the IF online community. If you wonder if anyone else has had luck with a specific treatment plan, there’s no better place to go than the IF online community. Post it to a board, blog about it, or ask in a facebook group. Your RE may have seen hundreds or maybe even thousands of patients, but that can’t compare to the millions of us online. Should you take your medical advice from ONE person online whose not a doctor? Of course not. Compare stories, ask around, and gather information. Bring it to your doctor and discuss it together, perhaps they’ll learn something too.

Just remember this is your journey, don’t be passive in it!

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No little pink line for me this morning. Rats! I wasn’t very optimistic this month, so not too crushed. I’m more bummed that we have to go through IVF. Truly I just never thought we’d get to this point since we hadn’t had that much trouble in the past getting pregnant, just struggled staying pregnant. I find it so strange that my OBGYN was able to get me pregnant 3 times with just clomid/femara yet my RE can’t seem to with the best meds out there (follistm/gonal-f). I know they say your body changes after each pregnancy (I assume that means even if you don’t carry to term) and apparently that’s been the case for me.

So today I’ll call my RE office and get a consultation on the calendar with my doctor. I have quite a few questions for him before I’ll feel comfortable moving forward. In particular, I’m interested to understand why his success rate has dropped pretty significantly in a few areas over the last few years. Specifically the frozen embryo transfer rate – in 2008 it was 46% (resulting in live pregnancies) and then in 2012 it dropped to 25%. Seems like a pretty drastic shift. I know there are a lot of factors, but that just seems like something must have changed between then and now. I’ve done a lot of research on my clinic and they seem to be close to the national average, but not quite there. Not that it really matters, there isn’t another clinic within a 100 miles of here, so they basically have me by the eggs (ha, get it?).

As much as I’d like to give the Chinese herbs a try first, I think I want to give one round of IVF a try first. I am just concerned about the lack of monitoring with the herbs (cysts/OHSS). I also just wish there was more research out about them, I don’t want to waste 3-4 months of my time on them if they don’t have a real shot of working.  We’ll see.

Reminder, it’s infertility awareness week!