Hormones are funny. Funny, odd, not funny ha ha. As if infertility and fertility treatment wasn’t stressful and emotional enough, then there are the hormones. Extra hormones. LOL. Really. Extra hormones. Wanting to be pregnant, wanting your baby in your arms, finding that you can’t get pregnant the old fashioned way, need to go to a doctor, manage the financial aspects, the medical treatment, the numerous doctor’s appointments, not enough to make you crazy? Ok, and then let’s add some extra hormones to the mix.
Hormones. Ok, I remember my first experience on Chlomid. It was not pretty. Who knows if it was really the hormones or just an emotional reaction to them? Who cares? I turned from a fairly normal, slightly neurotic woman into a crazed, over reactive harpy. No one could say anything to me about anything without getting shrieked at. It was really ugly.
My best friend, Pamela, took the medications and did not have that reaction. I wanted to kill her most of all. If I had to be that miserable, was it too much to ask that she be just as miserable? Wasn’t that what a best friend would reasonably do?
If you think I am exaggerating, think again. I’m not.
My good news? For me, when I went to the injectible medications, (which I didn’t want to do) it was a huge relief. I can’t emphasize enough how huge a relief it was. I had none of the reactions that I had on Chlomid and it was a relief beyond relief, for everyone involved.
Sit and talkwith a group of women in fertility treatment and it ran the gamut. Some of us have no reactions to some of the medications, some of us have big reactions to others and still others of us barely noticed any of it, including the injections.
What struck me most was the anticipation. There are very few of us who are used to giving injections. Still less of us who are used to giving ourselves the injections. So along with the fear of reaction to the medication, there was also the anticipation of actually giving ourselves a shot. I sat there and counted to ten. That worked very well. I can still hear my husband laughing though, because I counted to ten about two hundred times. The first time I gave myself an injection, it took me twenty five minutes. Twenty five minutes to give myself an injection with a needle about the diameter of a single strand of my hair.
It was easier the second time.
The anticipation of being on the medication is similar. You hear horror stories, really, horrible stories, on the internet, on message boards, even from friends who have gone through fertility treatment. The quieter stories are those without those reactions. Those of us who take the medication and have elevated emotionality. Like that phrase? Sounds simple. You don’t have to have a horror story to feel more emotional and edgy.
What’s the moral of the story? Anticipation can easily turn into anxiety. Fertility treatment isn’t easy, at all, either physically or emotionally. Expect that treatment may be challenging, give yourself and those around you a break.
How do you handle these treatments and situations? Any suggestions for the rest of us?
Often when patients come to the office for their first infertility visit
there is a lot of fear and apprehension. Some patients will even delay coming to see a reproductive endocrinologist
out of fear or anxiety. In talking to patients, it seems that this apprehension has two parts; the first is that we will find something terribly wrong with them, and the second is fear that they will have to endure a series of invasive procedures. These fears are normal; we all have a fear of the unknown, especially when it comes to our health.
There is good news, news that can help allay these fears. Almost all couples have a fertility diagnosis that is amenable to available treatments. In approximately 80% of new patients we will start with the simplest fertility treatment plan. In fact overall in our practice we do twice as many IUI (intrauterine insemination) cycles as IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles. Very few patients need to utilize in-vitro fertilization as a first-line infertility treatment cycle.
Generally our first fertility treatment is utilizing clomid which involves taking a pill for 5 days, and having 2 ultrasounds with blood testing. Only one injection is needed to trigger ovulation, this is a small injection much like an insulin shot and is most often given in our office by a physician or nurse. In most cases we recommend an IUI in order to help increase the chance for a pregnancy to occur. This is a very simple fertility procedure with generally no more discomfort than a pap smear. It requires a ten minute office visit and patients are generally allowed to have normal activity that day.
If more extensive treatment is required, RMACT (Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut) has many resources to help you. Extensive teaching is provided to guide you through the infertility process, including medications and appointments. Every patient has a primary nurse to walk them through every step of the process. We also have resources to help deal with fear and anxiety, such as yoga, acupuncture, and professionally led support groups. You will never be left out on your own.
If you are experiencing fertility problems, take that first step on your family building journey and make an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Remember the phrase, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" can apply here. While fear and anxiety can make that first step of infertility treatment difficult, we are here to help you reach your ultimate gain; a family of your own.
Dr. Cynthia Murdock is a staff physician and a fertility specialist in Reproductive Medicine at RMA. She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Dr. Murdock earned a BA in biology at Cornell University and an MD at Creighton University School of Medicine where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her residency at Creighton University Medical Center where she was named Berlex Best Teaching Resident. In 2003 she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health.
An experienced researcher, Dr. Murdock has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed studies and presented at several of the most prestigious conferences in the field of reproductive medicine. The focus of much of her research has been on estrogen receptors, hypothalamic neuron function, and precocious puberty.
Dr. Murdock is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Murdock was previously an assistant clinical professor at Creighton University School of Medicine and a staff physician with Reproductive Health Specialists at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. She has also served as an Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at the National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.