After being diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea and failing to induce a period with hormone supplements, Lara found out that her and her husband were also dealing with male factor infertility. It took 3 IUI cycles and 3 IVF cycles until she finally got her baby bump. Read Lara’s story here.
Where are you from?
How did you get pregnant?
How old were you at the time?
What was your infertility diagnosis?
Hypothalamic amenorrhea, male factor infertility, anticardiolipin antibodies
Tell us about your fertility journey.
We got married in September 2013, and I knew already that we were going to have some trouble trying to conceive because I was not getting a period. I was a marathon runner and under a lot of stress in graduate school, so I spent the next year cutting back on exercise, gaining weight, and trying to see if I could get my period to come back on my own. Of course it did not, so we saw a reproductive endocrinologist in January 2015 and I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea, as I suspected. We spent about 6 months trying estrogen/progesterone supplementation and clomid, none of which worked to even induce a period. At that time, we also discovered that we were dealing with male factor infertility, as my husband had low count and motility, and very low morphology (0.5%). So we proceeded to injectables and IUI, which we tried 3 times and all failed. So we began IVF in October 2015. Our first cycle yielded 13 eggs and 3 highly graded blasts on Day 5. We transferred one perfect 4AA blast fresh, but unfortunately that resulted in a negative. We did a frozen embryo transfer in February with our remaining embryo (we lost one in the thaw), which also resulted in a negative. My RE ran a repeated loss panel, and we discovered that I had elevated anticardiolipin antibodies, which we thought could have contributed to the failed transfers. So we regrouped and did another retrieval cycle in April with a different medication protocol and got 18 eggs and 12 blasts, and we did PGS testing and had 6 normal embryos. We transferred one 6AA PGS tested blast in June and I immediately started on lovenox injections to treat the anticardiolipin antibodies, and we got our first ever positive pregnancy test! My betas were great, ultrasounds looked good, and I am now 19 weeks pregnant with our little boy!
What factors do you believe contributed to your success?
I think that my education on the subject and perseverance got me the best care possible. My doctor was fantastic, but he had a lot of patients, and I felt that it was really important to advocate for myself. I pushed for the repeated loss panel and PGS testing, both of which I think really contributed to our success. It also helped me to stick with the same doctor for our second cycle. A lot of people asked if I was going to find a new doctor after our failed cycle, but I felt that my doctor had learned a lot about me from the first cycle and trusted that he knew what to change to get better results the second time around. I really tried to do everything I possibly could to help from my end as well, with healthy eating, less exercise (which for me was a good thing!), acupuncture, and meditation.
What positive element(s) came out of your experience?
This journey was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I truly believe that I am a better person for it. I know that I am closer with my husband - you can't make it through something like this without learning a lot about each other and compromising to make each other happier. I opened up to a lot of friends about our struggles, and that really made me appreciate how wonderful they are and gave me a lot of support. I am more relaxed, open-minded, patient, and thankful. Everyone loves their babies, but those of us that had to wait so long and try so hard have a special sense of appreciation that I don't think can come from anywhere else.
What life lessons did you learn along the way?
I learned that you have to stand up for yourself and trust that sometimes only you know what is best for you. Life doesn't always go the way you planned, but it almost always ends up working out in the end.
What is your best advice for anyone having a tough time conceiving?
Try to be patient and trust that your time will come. This was by far the hardest part for me, but I really believe that everyone can be a mother in one way or another if you don't give up. Having connected with hundreds of other infertile women throughout my journey, I have seen that being a mother can take a lot of different shapes and forms, and that's just fine. Everyone's path is different, so try to respect yours and know that it is worth the wait in the end!