Or in medical talk- Diminished Ovarian Reserve. That’s me now. The DOR girl. So as I suffer through the TWW (two week wait), let’s explore my problems! 🙂
I’ve never been labeled with any kind of disease. Sure, I had appendicitis in 7th grade and I thought I was super cool because my chubby belly button looked like I had had it pierced thanks to my new scars!! But I’ve never been sick, hindered, different…just chubby.
So here I sit with a new label that means my lady parts are aging faster than me. According to my doctor, I will most likely go through menopause in my 40’s. Dawson and I both had the same thought- saving money on tampons! Whoop whoop! But it’s hard to understand how this can be me.
I have always had regular periods. I have never missed one, skipped one, nothing. I distinctly remember starting my period in 6th grade and my best friend saying “maybe you popped your cherry when we were riding bikes?!”. Oh, shout out to you most knowledgeable BFF, you know who you are 😉
I remember instantly feeling like I was becoming a woman. Seriously. That day I baked brownies, read a book, became more solemn in my disposal. WTF.
So now here I am, my lady parts failing me. WHY, OVARIES? My doctor says some women are born with fewer eggs, and some just have a faster rate of losing their eggs (also know as the oocytes in the follicles in your ovaries where just one wins the ovulation race and pops out for baby making). DOR can also be caused by other diseases or damage done to the ovaries (endometriosis, tumors, autoimmune disorders)…really the things you can read about it are kind of scary. But none of these things have ever happened to me. I was on very low dose birth control for about 5 years, and off for another 5 years before getting to the IVF process. The problem with DOR is that women with this issue are typically poor responders to IVF drugs. So is it even worth it?! The stress, the money, the time….well, we decided yes.
So what can you do? Many of my friends have expressed concern of what will happen when they try to start a family in the future- “I know you and so many other friends who have struggled, how can I know if I will too?!”. A first step would be a transvaginal ultrasound during the first few days of your cycle, the doctor counts the resting or “antral” follicles within your ovaries. 8-9 is a good count that means you are most likely normal! Yay you! Another option is FSH testing, this is testing your levels of the follicle stimulating hormone. This involves blood testing. Low levels are good levels. My DOR was determined through one ultrasound and a blood test that revealed very low levels of AMH, or Anti-Müllerian Hormone. The AMH test helps to determine approximately how many eggs a woman might have left. A normal level would be 1-3.5, anything under is bad, anything over can also be bad (signs of PCOS). Mine was .7.
What perturbed me was that when my tests came back, my doctor didn’t explain that this could all be a sign of me being a poor responder to the IVF drugs. He did say that I would be on the highest protocol of the drugs (though I did 4 days on a lower dosage, and was then upped) and that we would probably not have any embryos left over to freeze after treatment. He was right! But his reassurance was that age is, above all, the number one factor for success. 27 year old eggs are going to be of better quality than 35+ year old eggs. But there’s no way to know until they are used.
The conundrum then is…if this round does not work, time is of the essence for me. Every month means fewer and fewer possible eggs for me produce. But ya’ll, IVF is expensive and hard…and can you really do it again knowing what happened the first go-round? I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
My “babies, babies, babies” countdown chain I made post-transfer. It’s much shorter now!! Three days to go.