Each year, over seven million women in the United States struggle with infertility. Many of these women may wait months or even years to decide to seek out help. In a recent survey conducted by Shady Grove Fertility on its website and Facebook page, 85% of all respondents said that if they had to do it all over again, they would have sought out fertility treatment sooner. Would you have? Three Shady Grove Fertility patients discuss their paths to parenthood and provide insight on why they feel it’s important to see a specialist sooner rather than later.
“Do Your Research”
Soon after Holli and Robert Webb were married, they decided to start a family. Both in their early 20s, neither Holli nor Robert thought they were going to have a problem getting pregnant. They were a young and active couple who didn’t have any known health issues that would contribute to not being able to conceive.
After a couple of years of not conceiving on their own, Holli consulted her gynecologist who told her that, since they were young there was nothing to be worried about.
“I remember him telling me, ‘Don’t worry. Keep trying. You are a young and fertile couple and it will happen,’” said Holli. “He didn’t feel that we needed to seek out a specialist, rather we would just need to keep trying on our own.”
Shady Grove Fertility recommends that couples under the age of 35 seek out a specialist after a year of unsuccessful unprotected intercourse while couples over the age of 35 should seek help after six months. For Holli, it was now approaching four years with no success and she was ready to take that next step.
“It was frustrating for both of us month after month with no success,” she said. “And it was really hard being around friends and co-workers who were getting pregnant and having babies.”
Following six unsuccessful cycles of Intrauterine Insemination with clomiphene at their first fertility center, Holli and Robert were told that due to their unexplained infertility diagnosis, In Vitro Fertilization was their only option. The couple decided to seek a second opinion. They had heard through some acquaintance good things about Shady Grove Fertility’s Frederick office and Dr. Melissa Esposito, so they made an appointment.
The couple was impressed with the Center and Dr. Esposito, most notably the time that she spent with them explaining the process, testing and what to expect at Shady Grove Fertility – information they did not receive previously.
“Neither of us had any in-depth fertility testing performed until we got to Shady Grove Fertility,” said Holli. “It was a bit overwhelming at first because they were so thorough, but we were both glad that we took the time to go through process.”
And by going through the testing process Holli was given a definitive answer to her “unexplained” infertility – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
“It was frustrating to learn that I had PCOS because none of my other doctors ever investigated to see if that was an issue,” she explains. “In fact, one of my doctors specifically told me that it wasn’t likely that I had PCOS and not to worry about it.”
Dr. Esposito decided to start Holli on a metformin – an oral medication that helps reduce the amount of insulin some PCOS patients produce thus resulting in normal follicle growth. After just one cycle, Holli successfully conceived and is now just weeks away from delivery of her first child.
“I met Dr. Esposito believing that I was going to have to go through an invasive IVF process and it turned out that with a little bit of medication I was able to conceive on my own,” said Holli. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Dr. Esposito and my nurse Allison [Catalani] for all they did for me. They really cared for me during the whole process and were always there to discuss my questions and concerns following my appointments.”
With her fertility journey nearing the end, Holli provides some important insight for couples who may be struggling to decide whether its time for them to see a specialist.
“Do your research and don’t take no for an answer,” Holli advises. “If you feel something is wrong with your body, take control and seek the help and answers you need to move forward. That is the best advice I could give anyone who is currently, or may be, in the same situation my husband and I were in.”
“Seek Out Treatment Sooner Rather Than Later”
Much like Holli and Robert, Renee and James McMichael started trying to build a family shortly after they were married. The couple tried for 10 month to conceive when something strange happened to Renee – she stopped getting her period.
Through some testing, Renee’s OB found that her blood hormone levels were off, but the HSG he ordered for her came back normal. Renee says that he immediately ruled out that PCOS was a factor in her inability to conceive, but he didn’t have a definitive answer as to why she wasn’t getting pregnant.
“He didn’t have an answer for what was wrong and he didn’t offer a solution,” said Renee. “He was very vague in what the next steps were. He told me, ‘you can try this or you can try that’ but at that time I needed someone who was more definitive and guiding. I knew something was wrong with my body and I wanted to find out what that was and fix it.”
“PCOS,” she explains. “From the blood work and ultrasound evaluation Dr. Sagoskin knew right away that I had PCOS. I was very impressed by the thoroughness of the evaluation and how my doctor and nurse wanted a definitive answer on what was wrong with me.”Knowing about Shady Grove Fertility’s reputation from working in health care in Montgomery County, Renee decided to research the Center online. She made an appointment with Dr. Arthur Sagoskin in SGFC’s Rockville location and, following her initial appointment and fertility work-up, was surprised by her diagnosis.
Renee successfully conceived on her second cycle of IUI with clomiphene, and she and her husband James just celebrated the birth of their son. She says that she is grateful for the care and attention that she received at Shady Grove Fertility and would recommend for women who know that there is a problem to take matters into their own hands and find a solution.
“I can’t thank Dr. Sagoskin and my nurse [Krystal Lewis] enough for helping us achieve our dream of parenthood,” said Renee. “I would encourage anyone who may be having trouble getting pregnant not to wait. See a fertility specialist, get evaluated and understand what’s going on so that you can get the proper treatment.”
“Go Get A Fertility Work Up And Stop Stressing Out”
Since the age of 17, Julia Mortensen-Moran knew that she was going to have trouble conceiving a pregnancy on her own. After going through a laparoscopy to remove tissue and cysts, a result of her severe endometriosis, her physician explained that he didn’t think she would ever be able to have children.
“I was devastated when I heard him say that,” Julia said. “It’s not every woman’s dream to become a mother, but it was one of mine.”
After marrying her husband Ringo at the age of 34 and knowing that they wanted a family, the couple met with Julia’s OB to discuss their options and whether she could conceive and carry a pregnancy. Looking back at that consultation, Julia wishes more women got the advice that her physician gave her that day.
“He advised us not to spend a year, or even six months, trying to conceive on our own,” Julia said. “He told us, ‘just go straight to see a fertility specialist.’”
After a total of eight failed IUI cycles at two different fertility centers, as well as a second laparoscopy to remove additional cysts that had formed, Julia and Ringo didn’t know what next step to take. Confused and frustrated, it was a radio ad that revived hope for the couple.
“I remember hearing Shady Grove Fertility’s ad on the radio, so I decided to call and make an appointment,” Julia explained.
After reviewing Julia’s medical history and the results from her initial work-up, Dr. Paulette Brown in Shady Grove Fertility’s Fair Oaks office recommended that the couple try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Dr. Browne hypothesized that Julia’s endometriosis may have played a role in fertilization during her previous IUI attempts, and felt that they may have more success by retrieving the eggs, fertilizing them outside the body, and transferring them back. Dr. Browne was right because after just one cycle, Julia was pregnant.
“I thank Dr. Browne every day for her decision to move forward with an IVF cycle,” said Julia. “If we had done IVF sooner we may have had a child quicker, but my daughter is truly an amazing miracle. I wouldn’t trade the experience I went through for anything.”
Julia explains that while she knew for a long time she was going to have trouble conceiving, she feels that anyone who is struggling to get pregnant should seek out help and see a specialist sooner rather than later. “I tell people that no matter if you have been trying for three months, six months or a year or more to go get a fertility work-up and stop stressing out.”