It was now June 2009, or one full year after we first started trying for a baby. After meeting with our family Dr. in January, we had decided to go ahead and do the initial fertility testing she’d suggested. My day 3 bloodwork checking my levels of LH, FSH and prolactin, as well as thyroid function all came back fine. My husband’s first sperm analysis came back so-so (good sperm count, but results just outside the normal range on a few of the other parameters), so our Dr. sent him to have another one done, which turned out fine. She was also concerned that he may have a varicocele (varicose vein close to the testicles which could negatively impact sperm production), so had him go get that checked out.
Meanwhile, things were chugging along for us in other aspects of our life and we were set to go on sabbatical in August, which was just two months away. Not only had we failed miserably at our goal of having a baby before we left, now it looked like we weren’t even going to conceive before we left. However, we had the referral for the fertility clinic, and by some lucky fluke managed to get an appointment before we left.
Before our appointment, we dutifully filled out our information forms – pink for me and blue for my husband. The forms asked about basic medical history, lifestyle (smoking/drinking/drugs etc), plus questions specific to fertility such as any past pregnancies, and history of a host of “female” disorders. We got through the forms pretty quickly, as neither of us had anything remarkable to share, and then got to see the Dr., who reviewed our unremarkable intake forms, and the test results we’d had done a few months ago. The Dr. was happy with everything he saw, including the results of my husband’s two sperm analyses, which he said were perfectly normal.
Then it was time for the transvaginal ultrasound (this came as a shock to me as I wasn’t expecting to get right down to business so quickly)! I lay down on the examining table, the Dr. inserted the vaginal ultrasound wand (cue the visual…), and suddently up on the screen was an ultrasound of my uterus. I had seen many ultrasound pictures before, but they always had some sort of vaguely baby-like form in them. Mine, however, was…empty. The word “barren”popped into my mind as soon as the picture came on screen, and I saw the big open space where there should be a baby, but there was none. In that instance, the reality of infertility hit me for the first time.
While the emotional shock of seeing my uterus was difficult, the diagnostic aspect of the procedure went well. The Dr. seemed pleased with the shape, though he did say that it was tilted backwards, which is seen in about 20% of women and is a “variant of normal”. However, he reassured us that it should have no impact on fertility. He also made some approving comments which indicated that my ovaries and egg reserve looked good.
After the indignity of the ultrasound, we went back to the Dr.’s office to continue the consult. Since so far everything looked good, the next step would be to do a hysterosalpingogram (HSG or “the dye test”), which is a test where blue dye is squirted through your cervix and into your fallopian tubes. An X-ray is then taken which should show the dye flowing out of your tubes indicating that they are open. If the dye can’t go through, it could mean that your tubes are blocked, or that they just clamped shut due to the irritation of the dye, in which case surgery to confirm the diagnosis would be done. This test would need to be done at a certain time of my cycle, so I would have to call the clinic when my next period came to book it.
After that, if everything still looked good, we could proceed with IUI’s and clomid, which at that point sounded very intimidating to me, but I figured we’d cross that bridget when we got to it. In the meantime, we were both happy to finally be taking concrete steps to get to the botton of the problem