1 April 2020

The Fertility Journey: My Experience with Ovulation Induction

When you think of fertility treatment your mind generally goes straight to IVF, as mine did. You don't really hear about anything else. However, there are lots of different things that can do now. I've heard of someone simply being put on a pill to regulate their cycle and poof, pregnant. For us - our first port of call was Ovulation Induction. 


What is Ovulation Induction? 
Good question, and pretty much the first one I asked. Essentially my Dr called it a "helping hand". So they're not intervening as such, they're just giving a little bit of assistance. Essentially what they do is give you a drug, or some kind of medication, that stimulates your ovaries to grow the follicles where your eggs grow. They scan you regularly to keep an eye on size, and when you get to around 16mm they will give you a trigger injection. This will trigger your ovulation, and you then go home and do your business. 

It'll be different depending on your needs in terms of what medication they use, and what delivery method. I know a one woman who had to go on tablets to help, I, however, was put on daily injections. The trigger for me was then also an injection. I got very well acquainted with needles through this entire experience.

So what was our experience?
We ended up doing three rounds in total, starting in October 2018 and finishing in January 2019. Each cycle was a little bit different in terms of length and how I felt, but I will say it got harder with each cycle for me personally.

The first cycle (see video here) I was injecting my stimulant for around a week and a half before I took the trigger, so was quite a short cycle. I started on 50cc a day and went up to 75cc after a week to try and give an extra push. Overall this cycle was okay - to begin with, I felt quite down and tired, but I do think this could have been a mix of new hormones into my system and mentally dealing with the fact that we really did need treatment. However, we weren't expecting it to work so when we got the negative result we weren't too surprised or disappointed. 

The second cycle was a little bit longer and I found myself injecting myself for just over two weeks. Again we started on 50cc a day and then went up to 75cc after a week to try and get it all going. Through the cycle itself, I don't remember it being hard but going by my vlogs it obviously was - it was over both our birthdays so it was good to have that distraction over this time and something else to really think about. However, when I took the test and got a negative result I really struggled with that one. Not necessarily because I was expecting anything different - but because it meant we definitely wouldn't be getting pregnant that year. I talk about it more in my video, but I really struggled at that point - and honestly, from there it didn't really get much better.

The third cycle (see video here) was a lot longer, and at one point we thought we would have to abandon the cycle entirely which isn't something you want to hear. I was injecting myself daily for over three weeks for this one, and we also moved my dosage up to 100cc about halfway through. I really struggled with this cycle. For me, I believe it was a mix of too many hormones from lots of cycles, and having to deal with my brother and best friend having their first Christmas with their babies. At that point it was a case of great - while we've been trying you've gotten pregnant, had your baby and you're now on your first Christmas. For this entire cycle, I was incredibly down, withdrawn and not myself in the slightest - and I hated it. As soon as I came off the hormones for our two-week wait however, I began to feel a lot better, less down and more "normal". Which meant, when the test came back negative I wasn't surprised and handled it a lot better than the second cycle.

Weirdly, it was a relief when our doctors told us to take a pause and think about IVF now instead. It meant I could take a break from all the hormones and emotions. The third cycle was a hard one for me, so being able to take a breather afterwards felt like coming up for air. It also meant we could take a step back and decide what our next move was.

I'm one of those people that hate to worry, or upset anyone. So it's natural for me to pop on a brave face and say everything is okay. Which means I don't always process how I'm feeling or really allow myself to feel it. The hormones meant I didn't have a choice - I do feel like my feelings weren't necessarily bought on by my hormones, it was a more a case of they were bought to the surface by them. Which is good and bad - good because it meant I actually had to deal with how I felt, and bad because I felt so shit.

What advice would I give to someone else going through it?
Hormones are a bitch - just to warn you. Be prepared for that, I don't think I fully understood what affect they would have on me - and they do have a different effect on everyone. I thought if I became hormonal I'd be angry and snappy, but instead, I became very withdrawn and depressed. Whatever affect it has on you - make sure you communicate and tell your partner. It is hard, but do what you can because they need to understand and whenever I did do this - whether it be in a letter or through tears - it did make me feel a lot better.

I get asked a lot about the injections as well - how did I find that, and advice for doing this. Honestly - there weren't so bad. We started by Adam doing them, and then I took over by necessity at one point. You get used to it very quickly, but also they use a pen injection, so instead of pushing a plunger it's just a button which I found easier. The needles are also really fine. Most of the time I found it didn't really hurt, or bruise. Just listen to their advice in how to do it as it does help. Saying this - I still can't look when I get vaccines or have my blood taken.

Understanding everything about treatment can be very overwhelming - there's a lot to understand and a lot to think about. So take the time to process and thank about it all, ask as many questions as you want to your clinic - they're more than happy to answer - and talk to your partner if it feels a lot. They are going through it too, and they can help process it all with you.

Obviously, I am not an expert in any medical capacity or fertility capacity - this is just my experience. But if you have any questions, or you're going through it (or about to start) and you want someone to talk to - please come and chat over on Instagram here.

Much love, Lisa May x
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