Yesterday I had my follow-up chat with Reprofit following our failed first IVF round a month ago.
I was dreading it.
Why was I dreading it?
Firstly, it was over Skype, which I hate. Always a bad signal, or a time delay or technology failure…
Secondly, it brought up all these horrible sad feelings from last month, and I didn’t want to go there again.
Thirdly, I was at work (it was a 10:15am appointment) so I had the stress of sneaking away from my desk and trying to find a meeting room (nigh on impossible) so I could have the conversation in private.
Fourthly, I was due on my period – the first since the IVF failed (great) – and was feeling particularly grumpy!
And finally, I had no intention of doing the second IVF cycle at Reprofit! But I wanted to hear what they had to say.
The call was actually fine. I found a room, the technology worked and I could hear the doctor perfectly. And yes, it did bring back those feelings, but – to be honest – they’d not really gone away. And, actually, it was quite nice to vocalise what was on my mind with someone who understood. Another ear to bend.
What I really wanted to know from the doctor was a) what could we do differently next time, b) should I go on a long protocol to improve the chances of getting more eggs, and c) should they monitor my bloods this time, rather than relying on scans to determine the trigger shot timing.
Doctor recommendations – long protocol
The doctor recommended that I should slightly increase my stim drugs next time to help with ‘egg quality’ (I was a bit dubious about this answer as I know too much medication can compromise this). And he said I should wait three months before starting IVF round two.
But what really surprised me was he suggested I go on the long protocol.
Reprofit typically offers short protocols as standard for “the woman’s comfort” (the doctor’s own words). And this really appealed to me, because I didn’t want to have my reproductive system repressed (down regged) if I didn’t need to.
And there are loads of good arguments for going on the short protocol. Why put your body through all that stress and strain when you don’t need to? Also, many women who are poor responders with the long protocol do better on the short. So it has its place.
However, my first cycle with Reprofit was my first time doing IVF. And while I really bought into the ‘less is more’ argument (in terms of drugs), I didn’t really appreciate the result (six eggs, only three of which were mature).
I knew that the amount of eggs I’d produce would likely be less than on the longer protocol. But I, naively thought: our infertility problem is with the sperm, not the eggs. So even a handful of eggs would be fine, I thought, because ICSI would solve the male factor issue.
And my eggs will all be good. My hormone levels are great! And we only really need one, right?
I thought we’d have loads and loads of eggs, with plenty spare for the freezer. I remember debating with myself whether I’d want to transfer one or two embryos, such was my confidence in my own body’s ability to beat the IVF odds. How wrong was I?
Anyway, spiralling up.
My main issue with Reprofit though is with blood monitoring. The clinic doesn’t offer this during the stimming stage, probably because people like me are in the UK and struggle to find anywhere in their own country that will do it.
When I told the doctor about my concerns, he said the most important thing was the scans, and if I could come to the clinic from day nine of stimming, they could monitor me closely there instead on relying on me phoning in the results.
But everything I’ve read about IVF stresses the importance of closely checking hormone levels such as oestrogen, progesterone, and LH as they can indicate whether your meds need adjusting or when you’re about to ovulate.
The reason I’m so concerned about this is because I was a poor responder (despite the doctor saying my egg number wasn’t a bad result. I’m sorry, three mature eggs from 35 follicles is not a good result).
I think, if they’d monitored my bloods, we’d have timed the trigger shot more accurately, and I’d have had more eggs. And who knows… one of those eggs could have held the key to our cycle’s success.
Bloodwork monitoring would have taken the guesswork out of it, and may have saved a lot of upset, time and money in the process.
Today, a day after our follow-up consultation, I received an email from Reprofit with the long protocol from the clinic to start in July 2018. I felt excited, as it was like things were moving again. But I also knew, in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t go back to Brno again. At least not this time.
I need a clinic that is able to keep a close eye on me so I have the absolute best chance of success. Going abroad is brilliant in many ways, not least of all with the money side of things. But I’d rather pay once in the UK and get it right, than pay two or three times in the Czech Republic and hope for the best.
But never say never. If we find a long protocol that works in the UK, i.e. produces lots of good quality eggs, but we need to go through more IVF cycles in the future, I’d consider Reprofit again. But the lack of blood monitoring is a too much of a compromise at the moment, and it’s not one I’m willing to take.