Two months ago I posted about my first experience going to a fertility clinic with my husband. It was a little scary for me to talk about in such an open space where everyone can see it, but I knew I wanted to share, in hopes that I could help ease the fears of women that are going through the same journey. That is why I am back at it again. Today I'm going to share what my first IUI experience was like.
I've been to the fertility clinic so much now, that I feel like a seasoned professional. I know the best place to park (2nd floor, near the crosswalk), I'm familiar with the nurses and the ultrasound techs (and they are intimately familiar with me), and I can usually tell you the exact amount of money they are going to ask for at the check out (answer: too dang much).
However, I wasn't always so casual about it. I used to be a nervous wreck. If you are gearing up for your first IUI and you feel like you are losing your mind, this post is for you.
Day 3 Ultrasound
If you have already had your first trip to a fertility clinic, then I'm sure you are already good at counting cycle days. By the time you are seeing a specialist, you have most likely made tracking your cycle into a part time job. CM, BBT, LH, OPK. You know what they mean. You have visited Dr. Google more than once and you probably have a cycle buddy on some infertility message board. So, when I say day three, you know I am not talking about the third day of the month.
Cycle day three is when they do the cyst check. The worst part about this is that most of us are still on our period, on day three. Try not to stress over that fact. These people are used to it, trust me. When I went in, I was so apologetic to the ultrasound tech, but she reassured me that 75% of the ultrasounds they do in a fertility clinic are when you are on your period. It's no biggie. The second time I went in on day three, I didn't even mention it. It was business as usual.
If you are cyst free on cycle day three (hey, that rhymes!), then you get to proceed to the next round. If not, they may bench you this month, because it's not good to start a medicated cycle when you have cysts on your ovaries.
Day 5-9 Follicle Stimulating Medication
My only experience so far is with Femara, so I have no idea what it's like to take other medications for this, but the gist of it should be basically the same. If you passed the cyst check, they will tell you to start your medication on cycle day five. This is the stuff that works like ProGrow on your ovaries. You may be given Clomid or there is also the potential to use injectables for the "stimming" stage. No matter what, the end goal is the same. You are hoping for some big, juicy eggs to mature enough to proceed with the IUI.
The Femara wasn't so bad for me. I have heard some bad things about Clomid causing night sweats and hot flashes, but Femara isn't as severe. I did have a few headaches and on the last day of it I was completely exhausted. However, it was not as bad as I anticipated it would be.
Day 13 or 14 Ultrasound
This is when you find out if you are ready for the IUI. They check to see if you have mature follicles and they measure the thickness of your endometrial lining. I have a blocked fallopian tube, so they were specifically looking for follicles on my right side. Thankfully, I had one on each side and they were mature. My lining was nice and thick (it's amazing what you take as a compliment when you are "infertile")!
If you don't have mature follicles on this day, they will ask you to come back for another ultrasound in a couple of days to check again. If you are like me and have ripe eggs, ready for the laying, then they will give you a trigger shot.
The Trigger Shot
The trigger shot is called Ovidrel and it is basically some souped up HCG that "triggers" your body to ovulate within the next couple of days. I'm sure this affects everyone differently, but it made me nauseous right away. By the time I walked to the car, I was feeling like I could toss my cookies. It can mimic the effects of early pregnancy, because it's the same hormone that is released then. They even tell you that after the IUI, you can't try testing too early, because you may get a false positive result. I took a test just a couple days after, knowing that I couldn't possibly be pregnant, but the result did come back positive. I will say that it helped to know that I wasn't crazy, and the symptoms of "morning sickness" and fatigue were because my body did have the pregnancy hormone coursing through it.
The day following your trigger shot, they have you come in for the IUI. Your husband will have an appointment over an hour before yours, so that he can give his sample. They wash it, concentrate it, and get it all ready for the insemination (or as I like to call it: turkey basting). A catheter is used to place the sample up near the top of your uterus, where it will have the best chance of meeting up with an egg. The procedure itself is slightly uncomfortable and they do warn you that you may experience cramping. Once the nurse finished, she set a timer for 15 minutes and told me to stay put until it went off. Then, I was told I could take Tylenol for any cramping I may have and I could resume my normal activities the following day.
The Two Week Wait
The two week wait is always hard. The longer it takes to get pregnant, the longer the two week wait feels. If it's possible, having an IUI done, seems to make the two week wait even longer. You are really just expecting to be pregnant. Everything was planned so perfectly and you have to endure the symptoms of early pregnancy, during the wait. Of course, you will be pregnant in two weeks! The unfortunate thing is that first time IUIs don't typically work. It can takes 2-3 attempts. That's not to say it's impossible and if you search for "First IUI success stories," you will find plenty.
So don't lose hope! If you are about to start the IUI process for the first time, then take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. There are many women that have gone before you, I am just one of them.
Until next time!