Twas a couple of weeks before Christmas, and what do you want in the lead up to the most wonderful time of the year, and also both of your birthdays (my Christmas Eve, my husband a few days after)??? To spend £280 to see Jonathan Ramsay, superstar urologist to all the couples with male factor issues – yay!
Well, £280 and the rest.
We arrived for our 8am Saturday appointment at his Windsor clinic (the amazing thing is he has a Windsor practice, down the road from where we live) and waited. Another couple came in and told the receptionist they were there for their 8:45am appointment. It was now 8:20am and no sign of the great man himself.
About 8:25am, he strolled in, and at 8:30am we were in front of him in his office, telling him our IVF story. He’s that good, he doesn’t give a fig about having a waiting room full of people to see him. He’s the J-Dog – the big man – and he chuffin’ knows it!
Here are the highlights:
- He told us what our DNA fragmentation results meant. He actually said although we have high DNA damage, we also have a high number of excellent sperm. The average score – the COMET score of 33% – he said was high, but not THAT high. He said if we could get the level down to below 30%, we’d fall into the normal category. (I think he said 26% was Examen’s cutoff, but 29% was the cutoff used by other clinics). He also said the COMET test explains why ICSI sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t. Throw into the mix my ageing eggs, and we have an explanation about why our two IVF rounds have failed.
- He recommended IMSI. He said that in our case, IMSI would be worth it. While it won’t pick out the best sperm, it will help discard the worst. As we have a lot of excellent sperm, not many in the middle, and a lot that are damaged, this should help. It would only give us a few percentage points more chance, he advised (from 26% of IVF working to 29%) but surely you take every advantage you can get at this point?
- He said we had a good chance of it working, given the number of excellent, non-DNA damaged sperm.
- He examined my husband and said everything looked normal. Huzzah!
He also recommended my husband take a bunch of tests at a clinic in London to make sure there were no underlying infections that could be treated, and to see him again in a couple of week’s time.
So £500 of tests later, we book in to see the J-Dog again. Another £280.
As I could have predicted, the tests all came back fine. Although Dr Ramsay did say one of them showed oxidation levels that were on the high side of normal, and he recommended my husband take Proxeed to help. Randomly, he gave us two packets of these sachets for free. For FREE! We haven’t bloody got anything for free on our IVF journey so far, so that was a nice touch. Although, because we’re due to do our next round in January 2019, I said to my other half not to bother taking them as there’s not enough time for them to make a difference. ‘Save them for the next round,’ I said. Ever the optimist.
So, was going to see Dr Ramsay and spending over £1,000 worth it? Am I now a convert, as so many gushing IVF forumites are, following a visit to see the big man himself? Well, yes, I guess I am. Like everyone says, he is a nice bloke with a dry sense of humour and knows what he’s talking about. I’d say what he excels most, though, in is giving people hope. He is the first person to say our results are promising, that we have a chance. We can now legitimately say to any IVF clinic: no, we won’t want to do donor sperm. An expert urologist has said he can’t see why IVF won’t work for us. So there!!!
He has also told us investing in IMSI is worth it, whereas I’ve read so many conflicting reports on it. I even asked a question about IMSI (‘is it worth it?’) at the IVF fertility show in London a few weeks before, and I was told by the urologist ‘no, don’t bother’. So to have one of the best urologists in the world confirm that yes, for our situation, it is definitely worth it, is fantastic. He has also made sure there are no underlying health issues that are causing problems, so I’ll not be thinking ‘What if?’ in two or three years’ time if the whole thing goes Pete Tong. So for that peace of mind, yes, it’s worth it.
There you have it, then. We have a chance! We don’t need to do donor sperm! We don’t need to do TESA/TESE! We just need plough on in 2019 and hope – pray – that this next year is our time for IVF to succeed. Please let it be our turn.