So I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist. I wanted to get some hormonal testing done to see how my body is doing at this point in time. I had some concerns that I was having anovulatory cycles and wanted to discuss my perception of short luteal phase with a specialist. I’m having mixed feelings about all of this but it was good to finally have a piece of paper confirming that something is indeed wrong with my body and to have an even bigger nudge towards making improvements health-wise.
My first appointment was kind of awful. The nurse took my blood pressure and we talked a little about the medical records I had brought in. I mentioned my recent findings that I had MTHFR and she kind of shrugged at me and said that she didn’t think they tested for this anymore. So I started my visit confused because, with all the potential problems that can occur in pregnancy for people like me with MTHFR, shouldn’t they want to know about the mother’s risk factor for certain things ahead of time? All I’ve ever heard about fertility clinics is how much hand-holding they do.
More confusing information came across when I finally sat down with the doctor. She didn’t seem too concerned about my short luteal phase and told me that my thyroid levels looked fine, if not perhaps a little over-treated. We talked about this briefly and came to the conclusion that I should let someone else manage my thyroid because that wasn’t her area of expertise. She mentioned Clomid as a possibility and then we discussed the types of tests she wanted to run. I agreed to everything but the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) because that is just too invasive for me. I don’t take antibiotics and having had an early miscarriage before, I was less worried about my tubes being a problem.
After our discussion I had a trans-vaginal ultrasound where the doctor said she could see follicles maturing on both ovaries. I thought that was good news but she seemed less convinced, saying that she liked to see five or six follicles on each ovary and I only had five or six on one and three or four on the other. She also asked me why I would even test myself for MTHFR. Like knowing I had gene mutations was a bad thing. She confirmed what the nurse had told me – that they no longer test for MTHFR.
Over the next few weeks my husband and I completed all the basic testing that was prescribed for us and I made a follow-up appointment to see the doctor again. As it turns out, she was absolutely right about me. My cycle day (CD) two/three lab results did not look good. In fact, my “Egg Retrieval Score” on the ReproSource report was only a ‘five’, indicating reduced chance of a good egg supply. My other numbers were as follows:
FSH 11.8 mIU/mL
Estradiol 65.4 pg/mL
AMH 0.55 ng/ml
Inhibin B 129.9 pg/ml
She said that my progesterone was fine, which completely threw me because I could have sworn I had progesterone issues. And then there is the extra surprise issue we have just found out about: my husband also has MTHFR (homo C677T). Yup, you got it. We’re a double MTHFR family, which, like the running joke about how the name of this defect sounds like a bad word, has made us feel a little f*****d. To add to our woes, he has low morphology but everything else in the semen analysis was fine. The RE’s recommendation: Clomid and insemination.
I always swore up and down I would never take Clomid or do IVF. As much as we want to have a baby, my husband and I are also natural, practical people. Putting my body through hell for something that isn’t even a sure thing has never seemed wise to us. Of course, there’s always the possibility that we get pregnant on the first try and everything turns out great. These days, however, we frankly don’t feel that lucky. But sitting in that chair listening to the doctor tell me that there’s really nothing we can do to improve things biologically, I began to nod to what she was saying and agree with her a little bit. I felt afraid suddenly that my body was hopeless and that this could be the only way for us to make a baby. Next thing I knew I was taking the prescription instruction papers from the nurse and telling them I’d see them when we were ready.
Of course, going and talking to my husband is always grounding for me. His first response was to dismiss all of this being absolute truth. I exchanged messages with one of my closest friends who is an accomplished Chinese Medicine doctor and we talked about my concerns. The following day I went for my appointment with my own acupuncturist and we began to go over everything. I started to feel a little better and began to lean away from the quick fix again. Because there are many reasons why I don’t want to just pop some Clomid and jump onto the table for intrauterine insemination.
I know that modern fertility treatments have helped plenty of women and I have no judgments for anyone else’s choices. In fact I may take Clomid down the road. But I am concerned that my body isn’t in the right state for a pregnancy and that’s why I’m currently infertile. I believe that my husband’s sperm abnormalities are a result of his not being in the best health because of his MTHFR. Another doctor confirmed that being deficient in folic acid and other nutrients can cause low morphology. This makes sense and as I mentioned last week on this blog, we are planning to wait a few months before trying to conceive again. Especially now with my husband just starting to take supplements and change his lifestyle because of his MTHFR. But I have to say that all the news has been a double whammy and staying positive is requiring every ounce of my strength.
The thing that kept me from bursting into tears in the doctor’s office was my previous reading. I signed up for Dr. Iva Keene’s newsletters and watched all the videos she sends out when you subscribe to her mailing list. She cautions against getting too upset by fertility panel bloodwork and advises changes to diet and lifestyle. She says it takes 120 days for lifestyle changes to improve egg quality. I also read the book, The Infertility Cure by Dr. Randine Lewis. Lewis was a Western medicine OB/GYN before being drawn to Traditional Chinese Medicine. She now helps women get pregnant the natural way and stresses that “there is no such thing as infertility; it is a myth!” I already go to acupuncture (I’ve been at it off and on since last autumn and weekly since June) and I believe in its power to heal. This website is testament to the lifestyle changes we are making at home. I feel we owe it to ourselves to give some time for our efforts to prove fruitful.
I’m also still, of course, waiting patiently for the results of all the tests I had done recently. If there is an underlying health problem, perhaps that is causing my reproductive system to shut down. My husband also needs to get his own methylation going and will see my doctor in order to have the nutrition and other tests run. So for us to start trying now with things as they are would be downright stupid from where I’m sitting.
Something else is bothering me as well. With low morphology I understand from reading some other experiences online that the chance of IUI working for us are slim. We could spend all that money and end up with another miscarriage or blighted ovum. I didn’t feel like the counseling from the RE was very good in that respect. I know that there are no guarantees with any of these procedures but the fact that nutrition and lifestyle weren’t even discussed really bothers me. I don’t want to be delusional about our issues but at the same time I believe that the whole body must be healthy in order for conception and pregnancy to be successful. It’s nature’s way.
So we continue to work and wait. Do you have a story to share about MTHFR and infertility? What worked for you?