Don't ASSUME these tests are done/ going to be done before your treatment. In SO many cases these tests are only done AFTER a failed procedure...which means heartbreak, time and money for you.
Speak up for yourself and get the BEST care you deserve.
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Imagine having painful UTI symptoms for 2 years. Aside from the discomfort you have been bounced around from specialist to specialist only to be told in the end your pain is in your head…Until finally, finally! Someone listens to you. Not only does your new REI listen to you they validate that a test should have been done before you had 9 failed medicated cycles, 5 failed IUI’s and 3 miscarriages, all that potentially could have been prevented. You and your husband are each given a $10 antibiotic and the next cycle you’re pregnant with your second child. Fourteen months after that, with no medical intervention you’re pregnant with your third child. This test is urea plasma which sometimes the only symptom is infertility.
Imagine today is the day! Your embryos have been frozen and you are expecting a call from the clinic with the results. Except they never call you …and when you call they let you know both of your last two eggs have perished. You’re devastated and angry. Then the anger deepens when they then suggest a simple blood test. Six IUI’s and two IVF procedures and NOW they’re recommending a simple blood test that you assumed was done with the initial labs. Your husbands results are abnormal. Some, if not ALL of this could have been prevented. With on genetic test for balance translocation.
You are pregnant with twins! You're shocked, but so excited and happy! One morning at 13 weeks you wake up and feel off. You go to the bathroom and realize you’re bleeding. You’re miscarrying your twins. It happens, they say. Time passes and eventually the pain eases. You and your husband decide to try again. One day you get the positive test you’ve been hoping for. At your first appointment they let you know your hCG levels are high. High enough to be twins …again. You're terrified, excited and worried. Twins again, what are the odds? You pass the 13 week mark and then the 18 week mark you begin to relax. At 23 weeks you start bleeding again. You are admitted to the hospital to stop the bleeding and contractions but they can’t. You lose both babies at 23 weeks. While you're still in the hospital the doctors run some genetic screening tests and discover you have factor 5 leiden. A common blood clotting disorder. The babies could have been saved if you were on blood thinners, they say. Next time we’ll put you on blood thinners at the start of the pregnancy. But you are broken, and know there won’t be a next time.
Aside from balanced translocation disorder the other four tests are considered somewhat controversial which means that you as the paying patient may have to advocate for yourself to get the tests ordered. There is no clear answer as to why every REI doesn’t test for them. Each set their own protocol and some will tell you it’s unnecessary and sometimes invasive to perform these additional tests.
The fourth test I recommend having done prior to your first IVF is an extended thyroid panel (even if you're in the “normal” range) which includes not only TSH, TPO antibodies, Thyroglobulin antibodies, free t4, free t3, and ferritin. This will give you a better picture of your overall thyroid health. I also recommend to all my clients to find a previous thyroid level test to compare what their “normal” is to where they currently are. Ferritin stores are very important to pregnancy and are not part of routine testing.
The final test to protect your IVF investment is a blood test for natural killer cells. If the blood test comes back positive your doctor may perform a uterine biopsy.
These real life stories (some taken from Infertility Success, Stories of Help and Hope) might have turned out differently with testing for these conditions at the beginning of the infertility journey or after miscarriage loss. So many women assume (just like these women did) that their doctor/REI will test them for absolutely everything. However, as you can see from these stories, it’s simply NOT the case. Remember, just because a doctor tells you that they can’t help you doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant
We all know that the average age of a first time mom is increasing but what if that’s you? What can you do to prepare your body for pregnancy if your TTC after 35? Despite what friends and even your doctor may tell you, don't take a wait and see approach to your fertility after 35. While it’s true that more women than ever are getting pregnant after 35, it’s also true that more women (and men) than ever are experiencing infertility. While you don’t have to rush to see a fertility doctor you should start to actively establish what your fertility health is NOW and work on things in your control to improve it.
Establish if you’re reproductive system is healthy by getting basic physical and blood panel done, a hormone panel and an extended thyroid panel which includes
Erica, “what can I do to help my IVF work?” As an infertility mentor this is one of the most asked question. For anyone on the infertility journey IVF is usually not the first or second on the journey. By the time couples get to the place of agreeing to IVF there has already been a huge investment of emotional turmoil, time and money. The money. Oh, so much money for the chance to become parents. You wouldn’t go into any other transaction that costs as much without first safeguarding that you are in alignment to ensure the success of the outcome.
The reproductive system is so intricate that to even move the needle by millimeters could change the outcome. Here are my best tips to put into practice when you’re preparing for your IVF or IUI procedure. For more information and support like this join us over at Infertility Empowered.
1)Acupuncture- This eastern medicine modality has been utilized for millennia to prepare a woman’s body for conception. Today well-rounded REI clinics are offering this in house to help with relaxation and implantation either before or after the procedures. If your REI doesn’t offer this, speak to them about bringing your own practitioner or make an appointment that coincides with your treatment. There are tons of studies both clinical and anecdotal that support acupuncture as extremely complimentary for reproductive medicine.
2)Gentle movement- This will help originate your blood and provide much needed stress release. Swap out higher impact activities for ones that are lower impact but still increase heart rate. Research behind high impact activity is very divided with no clear answer as to whether or not this affects implantation. Traditional Chinese medicine defers to low impact activity during ovulation and the two -week wait.
3)Support your Liver/Gut- Both of these organs support your hormones so do all that you can to be gentle with them and make their job easier. Eat easily digested meals, drink plenty of water and avoid inflammatory foods like dairy. Your liver plays a very important role in your hormone balance so avoid alcohol during ovulation and the two-week wait.
4)Sleep- Sleep is important to restore your body. Remember the goal here is to grow a human. Make sure you get plenty of rest so your blood sugar/and cortisol levels remain stable as these are both big players in reproduction.
5)Supplements- Of course you know when you get pregnant that you will be taking a pre-natal vitamin to support your growing baby, but there is plenty of research to support taking one pre-conception can help you conceive also. Make sure the vitamins you are taking are whole food (meaning not synthetic) as synthetic vitamins can tax your liver and create toxicity. Confused as to what to take? And why? Get on the list for my workshop Decoding Supplements.
You sit quietly in the cold office, the paper gown sticks to your legs as you anxiously waiting for the doctor to walk in so that you can ask them the millions of questions that have been plaguing you. You have put off this appointment, not wanting to ask these questions, but now you’re here and your prepared to hear what the doctor has to say.
In walks the doctor, and out of your mouth tumbles all the questions about why you’re having so much period pain and most of all why you haven’t gotten pregnant yet. Instead of addressing the questions the doctor returns yours with one of his own; “how long have you been trying” You stammer that you haven’t been “trying long” but you have done nothing to prevent pregnancy either. “What about the pain” you say? “All we can do is exploratory surgery or birth control” is the response. Alarmed, and not wanting surgery you drop the subject and move on with the process of the annual exam. As you wrap up your visit your doctor says “keep trying and if you’re not pregnant in 6-12 months we’ll talk about our options.” Unsure what else to do you leave and go cry quietly in your car.
So many women face this scenario every day, and I’m here to tell you it’s NOT okay. While we can’t completely change the system (yet) we can make some proactive choices. Here are some recommendations to keep you moving forward so should your waiting period end with no pregnancy in sight you are proactively moving forward.
1)Track your cycle days and also changes in your cervical mucus. There are journals and apps to help with this.
2)Confirm your ovulating with ovulation tracking
3)Become curious about your symptoms, how you feel and how you’re sleeping. These can all be clues to what could be going wrong with your fertility/ health
4)Get a copy of your bloodwork and review it for levels that appear to be out of range. If you need to, compare several different results to see how the results have changed over time. ASK your doctor for clarification on these tests.
5)Take the same kind of supplements you would if you were already pregnant. Make sure your taking high quality, food-based supplements so that they’re absorbable and not creating toxicity in your body.
6)Period pain, especially debilitating pain should NOT be ignored. Don’t allow fear to prevent you from obtaining a proper diagnosis. Pain that includes excessive bleeding, and keeps you from doing normal daily activities is not normal.
It’s worth mentioning that on average it takes 10 years to obtain an endometriosis diagnosis. Some other things that can cause unmanageable pain or menstrual flow include; uterine fibroids, PCOS/ovarian cysts, as well as adhesions of the reproductive organs to the bladder or other adjacent tissue. Often women are told that there is nothing that can be done about the symptoms caused by these problems, or worse it’s all in their head.
I hope you’ve come to the same conclusion I did that in order to get the pregnancy you desire you’re going to have to become a strong advocate for your own health and take responsibility for knowing your lab results and body. If you need support in this area join us over here at Infertility Empowered where we discuss all things infertility related and how to get answers quicker and with better outcomes.