What’s actually happening?

This post contains some of my personal medical history. I won’t be going into graphic detail – or using language and terminology we as adults aren’t familiar with – but consider this your warning. Want to follow the blog without knowing specifics? Skip this post. Want to jump in with both feet? Continue reading …  xoxoxo

Let’s begin with some quick infertility facts from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

  • Infertility is NOT an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction.
  • Infertility affects about 7.3 million women and their partners in the U.S. — about 12% of the reproductive-age population.
  • Infertility affects men and women equally.
  • Twenty-five percent of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.
  • While vital for some patients, in vitro fertilization and similar treatments account for less than 3% of infertility services, and about (or approximately) seven hundredths of one percent (0.07%) of U.S. health care costs.

Truth Time: I had NO idea infertility was a disease until I started doing research. In fact, when looking for books in Barnes and Noble, I got frustrated because they weren’t where I thought they should be. When I finally found them under “Diseases,” I had an internal argument that resulted in me huffing and puffing, “I do NOT have a disease.” Ha!

Truth Time #2: That last fact floored me. Since so few couples need or utilize IVF, is that one of the reasons insurance companies don’t cover these services? Or is it because covering the procedures could potentially lead to another person to cover (ie. more money)? Or is it because the procedures are so expensive? Whatever the reason(s), I call shenanigans. It’s just another form of discrimination.

Now, how about a list of female conditions that may result in infertility:

  • over the age of 35
  • irregular or absent periods
  • hormone imbalance
  • smoking or alcohol use
  • abnormalities of the uterus
  • breast discharge
  • excessive acne or hirsutism
  • obesity
  • prior use of an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • pelvic inflammatory infections
  • endometriosis
  • fibroids
  • prior pelvic surgery
  • prior operation on the cervix
  • cervical infections

You know how many items I can check off that list? Two (obesity and fibroids). Neither was a concern for my gynecologist – especially because I’m relatively healthy otherwise (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.).

Although the fertility specialist disagrees and wants to remove the fibroid on top of my uterus, everyone agrees it is not likely the root of my problem.

It’s my one lonely fallopian tube.

That’s right. I only have one tube … and one ovary. I had my right tube and ovary removed in 2009 because of a dermoid cyst.

Now, even though my ovary is functioning (yay!), it appears the fallopian tube is severely enlarged and fluid-filled (hydrosalpinx). Essentially, the tube is full of scar tissue and fluid, making it impossible for the egg and sperm to meet … and travel to the uterus.

  • Is it possible to repair the tube?
    • In some cases. Unfortunately, mine is not likely one of them.
  • What causes scar tissue?
    • Anything from PID, endometriosis, STD, previous abdominal surgery. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I’ve never been diagnosed with either of the first three.
  • Is it possible the tube was damaged during my surgery in 2009?
    • Of course, but I’ll never know for sure. It’s going to be one of life’s great mysteries. 😉
  • Why remove the tube?
    • From what I can gather, the fluid inside the tube can be toxic to a developing fetus. So, to me, the question is, “Why wouldn’t you remove it?”

With all of that said, I have a laparoscopy scheduled for the end of July. The doctor will remove the fibroid and look at the tube (while using a robot … cool, huh??) as well as the other reproductive organs. If the tube is indeed fluid-filled, he’ll remove it and we’ll move onto IVF once I’ve healed. There is a small chance that the tube is fine, but it is VERY small. In fact, I’m not even considering it as an option (just heading off the question in advance).

If you have questions, leave a comment! I’ll gladly answer them to the best of my ability. 🙂