Patient Story

Zunaira & Muqeet

Male Factor Infertility
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Erika B. Johnston-MacAnanny, M.D.
Richmond – Henrico Doctors’ – Forest, Virginia
Richmond, VA
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Muqeet and I married in 2016. We began attempting to have a child early, as we both love children. We are of South Asian descent and also practice Islam.  

From the get-go, we realized something was a bit off — from periods being all over the place (even 3+ months apart) to lots of hormonal changes. We discovered we were dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). We tried to regulate the periods and time things perfectly for months, and then years, but realized it still wasn’t working. We knew we needed to find a fertility specialist if we were going to successfully grow our family.  

There are a lot of cultural barriers and taboos amongst the Muslim community regarding infertility — where not enough qualified scholars touch on infertility and the treatments that are permissible. Growing up, it’s always been a topic that is more hidden and usually met with strange looks. Our community doesn’t talk about it enough whatsoever, and it leads to a lot of misinformed opinions. The negative social stigma around infertility often keeps South Asian couples from talking about their experiences. It has been important to me to share so I can make a difference and allow others to be open about their struggles as well.  

Getting started with Dr. Johnston-MacAnanny at SGF  

Starting the infertility journey, we did the sperm analysis and learned that in addition to my PCOS diagnosis, we were also dealing with male factor infertility, including low sperm count and motility issues. This meant it was both of us (male and female) have some sort of infertility. We were extremely saddened; however, Dr. Erika Johnston-MacAnanny reassured us every step of the way that it can still be possible for us to have a child one day.  

Dr. Johnston-MacAnanny was very empathic and positive. She gave us a very detailed plan and kept reassuring us that it could happen. She also knew a lot about our religion and culture and incorporated a lot of conversations regarding that to make us feel more welcome.  

Keeping hope   

When going through the IVF cycle, it was very tough and gruesome. All the injections and pain, followed by being drained mentally and physically. We had to remain positive and keep pushing forward. The lowest we’ve felt was right after egg retrieval when a complication happened. It was devastating, however we remained positive. All of those injections started to build up, but we kept hope that all of this was going to lead to a beautiful child one day. 

We decided to do a frozen embryo transfer (FET) on a day Dr. Johnston-MacAnanny felt was best for us and gave us the best probability. We went in with our heads held high, many prayers by our family members behind us, and with a big smile knowing what’s destined for us will come to us.

Counting down the days

After 5 plus years of struggling with infertility, we finally saw our first ever positive sign on a pregnancy test. The pregnancy was nothing like I had ever imagined. Every week was stressful as I worried that something could go wrong. After the first trimester, it got easier, but in the back of our minds, we kept counting down every single day until we would welcome our child into the world. 

Welcoming Anaviyah 

We followed all the guidelines throughout the pregnancy and were finally blessed with a beautiful healthy daughter, Anaviyah. The moment she was born, we were both tearful and happy. We are so grateful for her. There are no words to explain the feelings we had when we held Anaviyah, especially after facing so many obstacles. 
 
Anaviyah loves staring a lot! She has a cute little pose where she will look you up and down and have a “I am going to judge you” face. She’s also very vocal and loves to kick so much! Her smile and laughs are so precious — makes you forget about all the struggles of the world in an instant!

What I learned about myself

I am much stronger than I have ever realized. I have gone through so many obstacles to arrive at this stage. I feel like I can do anything when I look back at what I had to deal with to get to this stage and I hope God blesses me with more strength and happiness.

For future infertility warriors

Don’t compare yourself with others, and if things get tough, it’s okay to shut down for a little bit to mentally and physically reset. It’s okay to turn off social media or avoid people who may ask insensitive questions. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help, whether it be with your spouse, friends, or even a therapist. It’s okay to feel sadness — you don’t have to hide your emotions. This was never meant to be easy. We’re all infertility warriors for a reason. 

This journey will absolutely test you every step of the way. It’s not easy, but the possibility of a reward of a life at the very end will continue to push you.  

To all the South Asian or other ethnic groups that face something similar, please do not hesitate to reach out for help if you’re struggling with infertility. The sooner it is tackled, the better the chances as well. Do not care about what others may think, because it’s your life and you deserve happiness.




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Diagnosis and treatment

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Infertility terms
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Receiving care

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Dr. Erika Johnston-MacAnanny
Richmond – Henrico Doctors’- Forest, Virginia, location
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