I realized something was wrong when I first started tracking my cycle about six months into the process of try to conceive. My basal body temperatures were much lower than the baseline on the chart I was using. This continued for four cycles until I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and started on levothyroxine. I thought this must be the problem and thought I had a fix. I was wrong.
After four more failed cycles I sought help. My gynecologist started me on Clomid. I had high hopes as this resulted in twins for a coworker but my hopes were again dashed. After 3 failed cycles I begged for referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. At 35 years old I knew I was running out of time.
I had scads of lab work completed. All normal. My spouse also had sperm counts and lab work completed also normal. At this point I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility and told that 1/3 of couples seeking help fell into this category. I continued with escalating doses of Clomid and my ovaries responded beautifully. The technician reading my intrauterine ultrasounds joked that I should be prepared for triplets! Still, three more failed cycles. Then followed the Ovidrel injections daily with a "trigger shot" to stimulate ovulation with insemination timed just right. Still wrong.
After five more cycles I was emotionally drained. I had read every article on what to eat, how to sleep, intercourse positions and tried chiropracty and acupuncture. All met with failure. I got to the point where I was afraid to eat because it might be the wrong thing. I was using only vinegar or bleach to clean because maybe it’s the chemicals in conventional products? I used only glass containers because maybe it’s the chemicals in plastic? I had to take a break for my own sanity. But still, I just could not give up.
Eight months later I was seeing a different reproductive endocrinologist. By this time I was approaching my 37th birthday and had read that my odds of conceiving naturally were less than 0.1%. Having my prior labs and medication regimens reviewed I was still labelled with unexplained infertility started on Femara with a "trigger shot" and scheduled intrauterine insemination. Then I ovulated on my own, on a weekend. I was devastated. The following Monday it was confirmed. The egg I had placed all my hope on was gone.
I emotionally hit rock bottom. I considered continued treatments but without knowing WHY I could not conceive it felt useless. Was it conception? Was it implantation? One IVF could help the other not. No tests were available to tell me what was wrong and chances of conceiving and carrying a child to term even with IVF were less than 40%. On my 37th birthday I gave up. No further treatments.
I write this as I approach my 41st birthday and cry in sympathy with the 37 year old me. I spent three years trying to conceive but it felt like a lifetime. It made me question my very being and feel worthless even though I have accomplished many things such as a doctorate degree and a successful marriage. I would not wish unexplained infertility on anyone.