When you’ve decided to have a baby and you want to get pregnant it becomes all that you can think about. Am I fertile, is there a problem, can I get pregnant, but I need fertility treatment? Go from being a reasonably rational human being to having your head filled with questions like these.
You might find it hard to believe that as a Mum of Four, I’m actually quite infertile. No, honestly. I have polycystic ovaries and suffered from secondary infertility. How do I go from someone with massive potential problems to having four children, read on or watch the video below and I’ll tell you.
Note: I am not a doctor, this post just discusses my personal experience with fertility struggles. if you have any questions or concerns about your own fertility, please see your own GP.
It was simple enough, to begin with
When it was time to try for my first baby I came off the pill and the next month I was pregnant. It was not until we started trying for our second baby that I realised there was a problem. I was experiencing what is commonly known as secondary infertility.
What Is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is a far more common problem most people realise. It happens where couples decide to have a baby and get pregnant with no trouble at all. “Let’s have another,” they say and then – nothing. The couple will start trying for a baby, and rather than falling pregnant immediately like the first time, the pregnancy test still keeps coming back negative. Months and even years can pass. Having had one baby and get pregnant very easily suddenly people are faced with the desperation to have another baby and sadly they can’t. This is exactly what happened to me.
So what was the problem?
There can be many different causes of secondary infertility, in my case, it was polycystic ovary syndrome. Luckily for me (although not so much for her) I was familiar with PCOS as my best friend had already been diagnosed with it when trying for her first child. I was therefore super familiar with the condition and noticed the symptoms in my own cycle.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome a set of symptoms caused by elevated androgynes (male hormones) in women. Symptoms can include heavy periods, irregular periods or no period at all. Other symptoms can the excess facial or body hair, pelvic pain, acne or no symptoms whatsoever.
I fell into the irregular to no period category. I began charting as soon as we started trying to conceive (referred to as TTC in groups and forums) so quickly noticed that something was off. Keep reading to learn more about how I charted and how and why you should do it too.
What did the charts say?
My charts indicated that not only was I having very irregular periods but that I was not ovulating at all. I went to the GP and was referred to a consultant for fertility investigations. I had scans and blood tests that confirmed my Polycystic Ovaries diagnosis.
Once my husband had his sperm count checked (something that he was not exactly happy about, but they won’t offer fertility treatment without it), tests were performed to confirm the diagnosis. I was prescribed a drug called Clomid which forced my body to ovulate. Luckily this miracle drug meant that my body now, reluctantly, released eggs and I was able to get pregnant.
My Advice To Anyone Trying For A Baby
Monitor Your Cycle
While fertility charting is not s commonplace in the UK and is barely acknowledged by the NHS, in other countries including the United States women work wth their doctors to chart their cycyles and estabish any issues. As far as I’m concerned, information is power. Had I not been monitoring my cycle and charting my results, I would not have suspected that I had PCOS and taken appropriate action.
I used a website and app called Fertility Friend. Each day I took my basal body temperature (taken with a special thermometer as soon as you wake in the mornings before moving or speaking) and adding the results into the app.
For an explanation of what charting is, how I did it and why you should do it, check out the video below.
Since having my last baby a product called the Ava bracelet has come onto the market. This wearable device monitors you while you sleep and tracks your cycle for you, effectively removing the need for all of the temperature checking that I had to do. While I haven’t tried this product myself, this is definitely something that I would have tried when I was trying to conceive.
Keep in mind the time frames
In the UK, the HNS require that you have been off contraception and actively trying for a baby for 12 months before they will offer so much as a referral to begin the process of investigating infertility. It is worth keeping this in mind before speaking to your doctor.
Keep On Top Of Your Appointments
As with most things in life, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets oiled. It is worth calling periodically to check the progress of your referral and seeing where you are in the queue.
Conceiving a baby is far easier if your body is healthy. Work on adding gentle exercise into your routine and eating well. Women with a high or very low BMI are statistically going to be less likely to fall pregnant, so staying healthy will help.
Ha! This one is easier said than done. When you’re trying to get pregnant, your body can send your mind into a baby obsessed frenzy where it is difficult to think of much else. Being told things like “just relax”, “it’ll happen when you’re not trying” or “stress won’t help” when you’ve caught the baby bug. Trust me, I know. Still, if you can do things that relax you, be it reading, a long bath or a date with your husband, do them.
My words to you
I get it. Trying to conceive can be hard, brutal even. Until you have been that woman fielding off questions about when you’re planning to have a baby, while stifling the urge to scream or cry or both, because a baby is what you want more than anything in the world, you won’t get it.
I was very lucky to be blessed with my babies and I hope that you will soon be holding your precious bundle. As hard as the journey might be, don’t lose hope that this day will come. If I had fallen pregnant any time but the exact moment that I did each time, I would have ended up with a different baby. My babies were definitely worth waiting for.