As a little girl, I dreamt of having five babies—being a mom of a brood. But I did not have any dreams around the fertility treatments needed to get closer to that dream. I assumed, as many children do, that babies just appear. That dream was shattered effectively a few years ago. As much as children do just appear for so many people, I am one of the chosen few who is experiencing fertility struggles. I am now on the precipice of my first fertility treatment.
Back before I knew I had fertility struggles, I had a pretty strict policy for myself; if I needed fertility treatments, I would turn to adoption and fostering as there were so many children in need of good homes. While this is turning out to be true for our family (we are waiting on the final word for our fostering license!), I also did relent and decide I would be willing to try some fertility treatments.
After watching Sex and the City for the umpteenth time, and cringing every time Charlotte and Trey try to use IVF hormones (and end up ruining their relationship), I assumed fertility treatments would only destroy love. Fast forward to my first conversation with my doctor and low and behold my surprise that there are multiple steps before you get to the IVF hormone injections. The first step is doing the testing to find out where you and your partner stand, physically. Once we got the frustrating diagnosis of unexplained infertility, there were multiple next steps we could try.
Trying Clomid as a First Step
The first step we were offered is to utilize Clomid in the comfort of my OB-GYN’s office. Clomid is a pill that helps stimulate your ovulation, to make sure you are actually ovulating each month. You take it either on days 3-7 of your cycle or 4-6. Then, after you take the pill, you get a blood test to make sure your hormone levels are up. Toward the end of your cycle, you’ll have an ultrasound to make sure your fallopian tubes released the egg properly.
The Risks and Side-Effects of Using Clomid
But there are some risks. Clomid has been linked to higher cases of ovarian cancer. Doctors only recommend taking it for six cycles before the odds of cancer increase significantly. I sat down recently with Dr. McCarthy of WINFertility to talk about what risks come with fertility treatments, and Clomid was a large part of the conversation.
She reminded me the risks increase because you are ovulating “more” than you would naturally and ovulation is the process that can mutate into ovarian cancer. It’s why doctors can sometimes recommend birth control to people with a higher risk of ovarian cancer, to decrease the number of times your body ovulates. Since I don’t have a history of ovarian cancer in the family, the risk is a little lower. And since I was staying off birth control anyway, I was going to continue ovulating whether or not Clomid stimulated it. The risk felt right for me.
Since I don’t have a history of ovarian cancer in the family, the risk is a little lower and since I was staying off birth control, anyway, I was going to continue ovulating whether or not Clomid stimulates it. The risk felt right for me.
The other surprising side effect (beyond the nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms similar to PMS) was the possibility of multiple babies. As Dr. McCarthy let me know, there’s no way to control how many eggs the Clomid stimulates, so you may release multiple eggs, increasing your chances of multiples.
The idea that my husband and I could go from no babies to several at one time was a little scary. But since we were looking to have more than one child for our family, anyway, it felt like a risk worth taking.
Weighing Other Options
I was simultaneously offered the option of going to a fertility specialist and taking Clomid through them so that they could also do an IUI (intrauterine insemination) concurrently. That’s where they take the sperm and insert it in your uterus via a catheter.
Having had highly painful catheters inserted for fertility testing, I was not keen to start there. Because I have six tries with Clomid overall, I thought I would start with my doctor and see if I can avoid the IUI part. If I don’t get pregnant in two cycles, I plan on heading to a fertility specialist to try IUI alongside the Clomid.
I still have strong feelings about IVF for me. I’m on Zoloft and already need support getting my moods in order, so the idea of having raging hormones racing through me is scary. I also hate, hate, hate needles. I didn’t hate them as much as a young woman, but after going through a miscarriage where I felt poked and prodded plus the fertility testing, I just cannot fathom wanting more needles in my life.
All of these factors led me to want to start with Clomid and Clomid alone. This approach may be right for you, or you may want to progress differently. Of course, any planned fertility treatments should all be decided in conjunction with your doctor and/or your fertility specialist so that you can make an informed decision based on what is right for you and your family.
I’m nervous, but excited. Knowing that there are many ways to form a family gives me a certain sense of relief. If this method doesn’t work, there are others, including fostering/adopting (which comes with its own set of questions and concerns). I’m just excited to meet my family, no matter how they come to me.