After starting this process I realized that I (as many women do) took my body for granted. I just always assumed I was born a female and my body would naturally do what females are born to do — make babies. I’ve never been pregnant before, but just thought that was due to the luck of the draw. I’m not saying that there weren’t times when I was praying to the Period God that she would bless me with her presence. When I was younger (and didn’t think I was financially or emotionally ready to be a parent) I had several prayer sessions with the Period God. But she always showed up. Not once did I ever think that hey, maybe when the time comes I might not be able to get pregnant. It would just happen naturally, right?
So now I’m 38, financially secure and emotionally ready, and have to have all these tests to see if I have enough eggs; are the eggs that I have available “strong” enough; is my body producing enough hormones to ovulate; is there anything in my uterus that would prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to it… Questions that the my 25 year old self would not have even fathomed.
Last week I gave up 7 vials of blood (I thought I was about to pass out afterwards) and had a sonogram to try to answer these questions. They tested for hormones that I didn’t even know I had. For instance, they checked the levels of my anti mullerian hormone (AMH). And what the heck is that you might ask… They look at your AMH levels to predict the size of your remaining egg supply, or in the world of fertility your “ovarian reserve”. I’ve gotten most of my results back, except for the AMH and a couple of other “minor” tests, like whether I have the chicken pox antibodies (which I already know I do because I had that itchy a** virus in the sixth grade). Most of the results seem very positive. I’m ovulating and have the proper levels of ovulation hormones; I also have good levels of estrogen and all the other necessary hormones. The sonogram showed that I had 17 mature follicles that my ovaries could potentially ovulate this month. So things were looking up.
However, I was given some news that I did not expect. First, the sonogram also detected that I have 4 fibroids (noncancerous tumors that grow in the uterus). I was told not to be too concerned with this because as of right now they are small, although it could be the reason why one of my fallopian tubes appears to be blocked. Also, because fibroids are pretty common — as many as 1 in 5 women have them during their childbearing years, and half of all women have them by the age of 50. Although Dr. N, my fertility doctor, isn’t too concerned with them right now, she did say that I may need to have another HSG prior to insemination to see if they have grown enough to possibly interfere with implantation of a fertilized egg.
The other news that is somewhat troubling is that my thyroid hormones are out of whack. Now for the last year and a half, I’ve been going back and forth to the doctor for them to test my thyroid hormones. I first went to the doctor because I was experiencing unexplained hair loss, which is a symptom of a possible thyroid problem. Results revealed that my levels are off, but the 3 doctors that I went to said that they weren’t “off enough” to place me on medicine to try to regulate it. But in the world of fertility, every hormone level matters. Dr. N told me that my current tests revealed that I had a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level of 5.08 (which is at the top of the “normal” range of 0.32-5.50). TSH basically stimulates your thyroid to produce hormones that are responsible for regulating your metabolism and many other systems in your body, including menstruation. So high levels of TSH indicate that your thyroid is not functioning properly and isn’t producing enough hormone to regulate your body functions, a condition known as hypothyroidism. And in fertility world, your TSH level needs to be under a 2.5. Anything higher than a 2.5, and the baby has a risk of having cretinism. I didn’t even know what that was, but after talking to my friend T, she gave me a clear visualization of what it could be. Umm, just think of what a cretin looks like… Aside from that visual, the proper definition of cretinism is a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth of a fetus due to untreated maternal hypothyroidism. Obviously no one wants that if it can be prevented! Untreated hypothyroidism also has a high risk of miscarriage!!
So Dr. N told me that she will not even attempt an insemination until my TSH is under 2.5!! I now have to go to an endocrinologist and get treated before I can even pick a date for insemination. This was a total bummer, but I know it’s something that NEEDS to be taken care of. So I made an appointment with the endocrinologist for the 21st of this month. Who knows how long it will take to get my TSH regulated, but I’m hoping it doesn’t take long. For now, it’s just a minor bump in the road to the end goal of holding my baby in my arms!