Top 7 Websites Comparing IVF Clinic Success Rates

Top 7 Websites Comparing IVF Clinic Success Rates

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Question: 

How do I find the top-ranked IVF clinics based on success rates? 

 

Answer: 

The answer to this question is not as clear as you may think. The most important thing to consider before undergoing your search is to understand that “success” can mean different things. Those struggling with infertility may assume “success” means a live-birth, which would make sense, because that’s the end goal. But many fertility clinics view success differently. The statistics of an IVF clinic’s success rates can be skewed for different reasons. How is that possible? One way is they can alter the definition of success. 

 

Here are different ways a clinic may define “success”

5-Day Blastocyst stage reached

Embryo Implanted

Transfer results in one implanted embryo (but multiple embryos were transferred at one time)

Positive beta (positive pregnancy test)

Live birth

 

Aside from the varying definitions of success, there are many variables that can influence the outcome. Some IVF clinics turn away people due to the difficulty of their case, which would increase the clinic’s success rate. Essentially, the clinics that accept the harder cases also accept that they may take a hit on their success rates. There are variables some IVF clinics choose to avoid and they might suggest to patients to seek treatment with a different clinic. This is an example of lowering the pool of patients which increases the odds of more favorable results for the IVF clinic to report.

 

“Difficult Cases” Certain IVF Clinics Avoid

Higher Maternal Age

Poor Egg Quality (Low Ovarian Reserve, PCOS, etc)

Infertility Diagnosis (Hormonal, abnormal uterine structure, etc.)

High Body Mass Index 

Treatment used prior, including number of prior attempts

Patient history of miscarriages and previous live births

Male Factor Infertility

Genetic predispositions (MTHFR gene mutation, balanced translocations, etc.)

 

As you can see there are many variables that affect fertility. Those variables combined with the different definitions of success can make it challenging to find a truly balanced report of IVF success rates. Ultimately it is up to those dealing with infertility to do their due diligence with researching the clinics they may be interested in. Simply knowing that data can be potentially skewed can help someone be more careful while researching whether a clinic is right for them.

 

Selecting an IVF Clinic is Not Just About Statistics

  1. Consider your specific diagnosis, expected treatment, and rule out the clinics that are unable to provide the assistance or technology for your specific need. 
  2. Read what patients are saying based on their experience with their doctor, nurse, and office staff. Seek out reviews from those with a similar diagnosis as you. 
  3. Good communication with your clinic is vital. They should listen carefully to your concerns and respond promptly to your questions. Any miscommunication can lead major issues such as incorrect administration of medication. 
  4. Provides information on the realistic odds of a live-birth for you as an individual. 
  5. Find a clinic that creates a protocol to fit your specific situation and diagnosis.  

 

Top 7 Websites Comparing IVF Clinic Success Rates

 

#1 

CDC’s NASS 2.0 (United States)

I recently asked Rebecca Fett, writer of “It Starts with the Egg”, what website she would recommend that ranks IVF clinics and she responded with a link to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s page about the National ART Surveillance System (NASS) 2.0.  This website shows a map of the United States. You can click on individual states to view statistics. The CDC’s NASS site has become one of the most reputable sources for finding statistics on success rates. The general consensus among many online infertility groups is they overwhelmingly recommend this site as their go-to source for information in the United States. Before the CDC’s website became the number one source of IVF clinic success rates, one of the top sites was SART (now in our #3 spot).

CDC Clinic Summary

 

CDC NASS Data

 

 

Link:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s page about the National ART Surveillance System (NASS) 2.0: https://www.cdc.gov/art/artdata/index.html

 

#2 

FertilityIQ (United States)

If you want to read what actual patients thought about their experience with a certain clinic FertilityIQ.com is one of the best resources out there. You can choose how you want to filter your results when you click the Research Doctors & Clinics button, these include View by Patients Like Me, View by Doctor, and View by Clinic. The View by Patients Like Me option is great if you have a diagnosis that is considered harder to treat, and you want to see where you can go for treatment that is more individualized to your needs. This site also integrates the CDC’s success rates which is a great feature of FertilityIQ, but if you read the FAQ section of  FertilityIQ you will see they point out some of the data may not have been updated for several years. 

 

FertilityIQ Clinic Overview

FertilityIQ View by Clinic

 

FertilityIQ View by Doctor

 

FertilityIQ Patients Like Me

Links:

Fertility IQ: https://www.fertilityiq.com

FertilityIQ Research Doctors & Clinics: https://www.fertilityiq.com/#doctor-search

 

#3

SART (United States)

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) shows data that was reported by clinics. One criticism of this site is that the data has not been updated since 2016 (as of 2019), whereas the CDC’s site was updated in 2017. On the Arizona Center for Fertility Studies (ACFS) website they point out the main distinction between SART and the CDC site, “According to the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act, all ART cycles performed in the United States fertility clinics are legally obligated to report to the CDC.” Due to clinics being required to report their data only to the CDC, some clinics like ACFS chose to discontinue reporting to SART. The SART site still has helpful information but overall it is not as comprehensive as the CDC’s site. SART is better viewed as a supplemental source of information.

 

SART SRM

SART SRM data with graph

 

Links:

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART): https://www.sart.org

SART Find a Clinic: https://www.sart.org/clinic-pages/find-a-clinic/

 

#4

HFEA (United Kingdom)

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) is similar to the CDC’s NASS, both are regulating organizations that collect data the IVF clinics are required to report. You can do a search on a fertility clinic’s”Inspection Rating” given by the HFEA as well as view the “Patient Rating.” These ratings are shown side by side for comparison, which is a great feature to quickly gauge how a clinic is doing overall. But keep in mind that the pool of patient participants can greatly affect the patient rating. Fewer patient ratings can equate to less reliable of a rating due to the smaller pool of people. Two bad ratings with a small pool of say five people can dramatically change the rating. Another nice feature is that you can click “View birth statistics” then “View detailed statistics” to use their filters to narrow down categories such as age and treatment type. 

 

HFEA

 

Links:

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA): https://www.hfea.gov.uk/

https://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/clinic-search/results/9141/

 

#5

CARTR (Canada)

The Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technologies Register (CARTR) is where the data can be found that is reported by the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society (CFAS). The CFAS was originally founded prior to the invention of IVF and initially it focused studying infertility. You can view the CARTR Annual Reports here. The annual reports are useful for looking at the overall picture of ART statistics gathered in Canada. The reports do not show individual clinic success rates and currently there does not seem to be a website that Canada has to compare clinics. 

 

CARTR

 

Links:

CARTR Annual Reports: https://cfas.ca/cartr-annual-reports.html

Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society (CFAS): https://cfas.ca/index.html

 

Additional resources to find clinics in Canada:

Fertility Clinics: http://www.fertilityclinics.ca/

Infertility Network: https://www.infertilitynetwork.org/fertility_clinics_cda

 

#6

EIM & ESHRE (Europe)

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) focuses on testing and research and publishes their findings for members to access on their website. ESHRE created the European IVF Monitoring (EIM) to gather the data as part of their publications. Similar to Canada’s CARTR Annual Reports, there is not a comparison of individual clinic’s success rates but rather an overall look at the data compared as a whole. You can view the annual publications of the reports here

 

List of Included Countries with EIM:

Albania

Armenia

Austria

Belarus

Belgium

Bosnia

Bulgaria

Croatia

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Greece 

Hungary

Iceland

Ireland

Italy

Kazakhstan

Latvia

Lithuania

Macedonia

Malta

Moldova

Montenegro

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russia

Serbia

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

The Netherlands

Turkey

Ukraine

United Kingdom
ESHRE 2014 Publication on ART in Europe - Edited

 

Europe data

 

Links:

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE): https://www.eshre.eu/en

European IVF Monitoring (EIM):

https://www.eshre.eu/Data-collection-and-research/Consortia/EIM

 

#7

GCR (Worldwide)

I had issues at first navigating the Global Clinic Rating (GCR) website. But once I figured out the problem I was able to access some helpful information. Their search fields on their homepage were not setup correctly. I would type in “IVF”in the first field and it would automatically send me to the clinic of IVF Spain’s rating page, even when I had not entered a location yet. Finally I figured out that I needed to type in “fertility” in the first field and then I typed in the location in the second field. There were a few times I typed in IVF and I ended up with a list of dentists. If you run into issues with your search try slightly adjusting your search terms to see if you get the result you wanted. Although initially very frustrating, I found the site helpful once I figured out the specific terms needed they actually accept.

 

Some locations seem to have much more detailed reports and reviews from many patients, while other locations are significantly lacking data and reviews. Depending on the popularity of your clinic, you may find this site useful. If you cannot find as much detailed information I would suggest viewing this site as more of a supplemental source of information. 

 

GCR

 

GCR Clinic pt 1

 

GCR pt 2

 

GCR pt 3

 

Link:

Global Clinic Rating (GCR): https://go.gcr.org/

 

Comment below on Today’s Question and receive bonus entry into the current contest.

Today’s Question: What are some of your go-to websites to learn about infertility solutions?

 

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Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings

HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings

I started my blog HopingForBaby.com in March 2018, almost two years into our infertility struggles. At the beginning, my blog was anonymous, like many infertility bloggers tend to start out. I just wanted a place to freely write what was on my mind and to help me cope. I love to write and I’ve always found writing to be cathartic. In my day-to-day life more of my friends and family were opening up about their infertility and miscarriages. I began to feel less alone and felt more support in “real life.”

After a little while I built up the courage to post a picture of myself in my blog. It brings a smile to my face when I see more and more infertility bloggers step out of the shadows and actually post pictures of themselves. It is such a simple act that helps to break down the silence surrounding infertility as well as the stigma. Posting a picture is a way to say, “This is who I am and this is my story.” This allows other people dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss to know they are not alone. Before I actually started this blog I was incredibly inspired by infertility bloggers who not only wrote their story but also took to YouTube and created podcasts. 

high-res - Edited

So how did I choose the name of my website and my motto? The title of my website is pretty self-explanatory, “Hoping For Baby” is about the dream many of us share to have a child. I also chose this title because I wanted it to be flexible enough to allow for a future where I could write about a biological baby and/or an adopted baby. I don’t know what my future holds, and I may truly be unable to have a biological child. In that case, I would probably shift gears with my blog and write more about adoption or fostering. But for now, I am focusing my efforts on trying to have a biological child, hence all of my posts are related to this right now. 

The motto “Overcome Infertility & Create a Family” also has a double meaning. I chose “Creating a Family” as a flexible phrasing to allow for the many possible ways one can create a family. Whether it’s biologically from both parents, an egg donor, embryo donation, fostering, or adoption, etc. There are so many different ways to create a family. As far as “Overcome Infertility” most people may assume this to be literal, they may think of the steps to get them to their end goal of a biological child. 

But life isn’t always that simple, and sometimes people decide to stop pursuing a biological child. In this case, the idea of “Overcoming Infertility” takes on a new meaning. It can mean overcoming all of the emotional, physical, relationship, and financial struggles that come with infertility. You can overcome infertility by letting go of the pain and focusing on what is really important to you. One person may decide overcoming infertility means they can now move on to the idea of adoption, while another may decide that they would like to live child-free. For most of us with infertility, there is no straight path to parenthood, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

bath-ducks-bathroom-bathtub-226597

And on a final note, I chose to incorporate a ducky in my logo for a special reason. I started a little habit a few years ago, whenever one of my friends had a baby shower I would get them a rubber ducky to include with their other baby shower gifts I bought for them. I was doing it for everyone to where I told myself, “Don’t forget the rubber ducky!” In my mind the rubber ducky became synonymous with the celebration of new life. Plus it’s just so darn cute!

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Question of the Day:

Do you have your own infertility blog? Feel free to share a link to your blog. Who are some of your favorite infertility bloggers that inspire you and why?

Comment Below.

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MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

Today’s post will make more sense if you read my last one. So rather than recap everything again that lead up to these results you can go ahead and read that one by clicking here. I may have called the clinic three times to ask about my results over this last week. No one seemed to have a time frame for me of when to expect the results and they said, “This test takes a little longer.” 

 

Finally my doctor called when I was in a Wendy’s drive through with my Mom who was driving, I was visiting her that day. I had my phone up to my one ear, and my finger in the other ear trying to block out all the unusually happy workers inside who were all laughing hysterically about something for what seemed like five minutes straight while I was on the phone trying to hear what he was saying.

 

“You tested positive for the MTHFR gene mutation,” he said. He went on to explain some details that I wasn’t able to grasp in the moment, probably due to a combination of not hearing him and not actually processing all the info. I had to call him back later to actually write down what he was trying to explain to me. He said I have the “MTHFR gene mutation C677T heterozygous single version.” He thinks that some of my miscarriages may have been caused by this gene mutation. Essentially, when you have a MTHFR gene mutation your body cannot process folate well, which is an incredibly important vitamin that helps the baby grow properly. 

 

I had very conflicting emotions with this news, mostly a combination of anger and relief. I was so angry that none of the doctors had realized this earlier, and that one doctor mistakenly told me that I was negative for this gene mutation when she really meant to say I was negative for Factor Five. So I went on to tell my next doctor and several other medical teams I was working with that I did not have MTHFR, going off what she had told me. Sadly, none of these doctors thoroughly looked into my file. Had they done so I may not have had to deal with 2.5 years of five miscarriages and paying for IVF. 

 

I’ve heard stories of women who’ve suffered through many miscarriages before their doctor tested them for MTHFR gene mutation. When they discovered they had it, they were put on the proper medication and vitamins and boom…they have a healthy baby in their arms. I pray it will be that simple for me as well, but I also have Low Ovarian Reserve so it probably won’t be that easy. On the other spectrum of my emotions, I am feeling so much relief knowing that a huge missing puzzle piece has finally been found. But to be honest it is going to take a while to get over my anger. I think in time I will get over it, but right now it is pretty difficult.

 

I sat at Mom’s dinner table and talked about the news with her. She was the one that had mentioned to me several months back my Aunt has the MTHFR gene mutation. This perked my ears up because I remember hearing that acronym as part of the fertility tests I thought I took early on. I explained to Mom, “Had you not told me that, I would not have double checked that I actually got tested for it.” Mom got kind of teary eyed and said something to the effect of, “I didn’t even realize that was something related to fertility.” In other words, Mom had no clue the wheels she had set in motion for me. But I’m glad that she did. I’m also glad that my Aunt spoke up about her medical issues that were caused by the MTHFR gene mutation. Those conversations led me to my diagnosis that could help with my fertility, and ultimately help me to have much greater odds of having a baby.

 

I am brand new to this diagnosis so I have much to learn about it. I’ll probably do informational posts on it in the future. One thing I mentioned to my Mom is that I learned the MTHFR gene mutation has been correlated to some cases of cancer. So my diagnosis has sparked her curiosity into whether she may have the MTHFR gene mutation as well. She has beat cancer twice already and is the strongest woman I know. She said she would look into testing. It’s kind of surreal to finally have a concrete answer as to why I have recurrent miscarriages, and even more so surreal there may be a simple solution of medicine to help me. My OBGYN referred me to a geneticist that I should be seeing soon. Maybe next year we will finally have our little one.

 

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A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

So I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting still for my MTHFR gene mutation test results. Technically, I’ve been waiting about 2.5 years and just didn’t realize it. “How is that possible,” you may ask. Let me take you back to the beginning. Doctors typically look at the more common explanations for recurrent pregnancy loss with the basics; thyroid, progesterone, Rh factor, Factor V Leiden, and MTHFR to name a few. These basic tests help determine the correct treatment, and ideally prevent unnecessary heartache from miscarriage after miscarriage. If all of these tests are negative then further more in-depth testing can be done.

 

I vividly remember sitting in my first RE’s (Reproductive Endocrinologist) office years ago and hearing her explain my results to me. One by one she read my results while reading a paper from my file on her lap, “Thyroid is good. Progesterone is fine. Rh factor is positive, so that’s not an issue at all. No Factor Five and no MTHFR.” No MTHFR. No MTHFR. That’s what sticks out in my mind all these years later. I can still see her smiling at me optimistically, which I’m sure she wouldn’t be doing the same thing now had she seen everything I’ve been through over these years. But she retired shortly after I began my treatment with her. She was a nice lady, but in hindsight she seemed a little flaky and unfocused. But back then I attributed her forgetfulness of the details of my medical history to what I’m assuming was a high number of patients she was juggling. 

 

Flash forward 2.5 years later to now. That first RE retired, my second RE retired this year, and my info was passed along to an OBGYN office in the same building. I called my insurance company and learned there isn’t a single RE left in the state that is in-network any longer. So I’m shit out of luck as far as getting a specialist who is properly trained in cases such as myself. What does this leave me with? In the new clinic I did what most of us do, ask a lot of questions in hopes they will be able to give us breadcrumbs to the solution. It felt like pulling teeth with this one though. She seemed mildly irritated with each question I asked. What she didn’t realize is that she was sitting in an interview for a position that can mean life or death. Not to be melodramatic, but that’s truly the reality of what I’m dealing with, the life of my future child. 

 

I had high hopes for this young representative of this OBGYN office who my newly retired Reproductive Endocrinologist highly recommended. But my final question I posed to this fresh-faced doctor was what truly sealed her fate. It was basically a set up, I’ll admit, but I had to ask it to truly learn what I was working with. I asked her, “What do you recommend I do to improve my egg quality?” Mind you, I have recently done a massive amount of research on this subject this last year, from reputable medical journals and some of the most well-renowned books published on the subject, including the book “It Starts with the Egg.” I’ve already put into practice some of the medical advice on the subject. 

 

“Well” she starts, “We are born with a certain number of eggs. We can’t change that. And sometimes miscarriages just happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.” I could tell she says this quite often. Her face was completely blank and her eyes seemed distant like she was trying to figure out what she wanted to order for lunch. Her words may have been consoling to someone who might be experiencing their first miscarriage, in fact I know I’ve heard this before from another doctor I stopped seeing years ago. When I get a gut feeling that a doctor isn’t doing everything they possibly can, I usually move on to the next one, as anyone should. 

 

So what exactly was it about her response that pissed me off. Well she didn’t answer the question I actually asked her, for one. I asked about egg quality, not egg quantity. I know there’s absolutely no way you can increase the number of eggs you have. But I do know that there are studies on how to improve egg quality on the eggs that you have remaining, which can increase the odds of a live-birth. The problem with her answer to me is that she was either one of two things, 1) Not paying attention to my question, or 2) Uneducated on the correct response. To her credit, she contributed one solid lead for me to follow, with a different doctor of course. That lead was that she had looked through my entire file of many documents and found no MTHFR results. 

 

Interesting, no MTHFR results. Could this just be an oversight on her part? I hoped this was the case. One of my Aunts recently told me she has the MTHFR gene mutation and she was telling other family members to get tested for it. Because of this, I decided I should double check that I truly am negative for the MTHFR gene mutation. If you haven’t already googled what the MTHFR gene mutation is, it’s essentially a mistake that occurs in how people process folate which can lead to a variety of complications, recurrent miscarriage being one of them. The doctor’s parting words were, “You don’t need to get tested for MTHFR. Just make sure you take a prenatal with folate.” Let me disect this response as well, firstly if I did have MTHFR, it’s recommended that you take methylated folate during pregnancy, which is often not found in your basic prenatal. And why the hell would I not want to get tested for MTHFR if I have a family history of it and I’ve had five miscarriages? Why would I not want to find that out? At that point I thanked her for her time and we both left the room quickly. I’m assuming for her it was because her stomach was rumbling and she needed lunch, and for me I left quickly because I knew I wasn’t going to waste another minute with someone who seemed disinterested in helping me. I later read in my infertility groups that many other women have the same experience of a doctor being dismissive of their request to test for MTHFR and that some patients really have to push doctors to get this test done.

 

I called back a few days later and asked the receptionist to patch me through to a nurse. “Can you see if I have been tested for MTHFR at all?” I wanted to know for absolute certain that I had not been tested for MTHFR, because I was questioning how thoroughly the doctor read through my file. The nurse on the phone scoured through my medical history, I know this because I could hear her turning the many pages of my file. Finally after about five minutes she said, “Well I see here you were tested for something similar to MTHFR, Factor Five. But nothing at all on MTHFR.” She even reviewed my genetic test called a Horizon panel, which tests for 274 different genetic carrier diseases that both my husband and I took years ago. The MTHFR test wasn’t in that one either. She asked if I wanted to come in to get tested for it and I agreed, but later decided not to show up, remembering the shitty experience I had with that doctor. I thanked the nurse for her time she put into carefully poring over my file. I decided to use this bread crumb of information to move ahead, but not with them.

 

Instead of feeling obligated to continue care with that provider just because my previous Reproductive Endocrinologist recommended them, I decided to call up my OBGYN I used for my past surgeries after I lost my pregnancies. He previously recommended I ask most of my questions to a specialist, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, because he didn’t have all the information I was asking about. But now that I have zero RE’s that are in-network, I decided to go back to his office to at least test me for MTHFR. So I stopped by, did a quick blood draw, and now I’m waiting for the results. I’ve been waiting about five days now and I called several times. They said it takes a bit longer to get that specific test back. 

 

If I have MTHFR I can get set up on a treatment plan. If I don’t, at least I can finally rule that out. I feel I have a right to be angry, I was told I was tested for it but I really wasn’t. My second RE even asked me, “Have you been tested for MTHFR?” as she was looking through all my documents. I told her I was tested and found to be negative, because I was going off what my first RE told me. My second RE stopped searching through my file after just a few pages and took my word for it, she should have looked more deeply into it. Admittedly, my file is quite intimidating. It’s about as thick as a 500-page novel. Maybe that’s why she decided to stop short. There were a series of oversights along the way, and that is what bothers me. 

 

I believe this is not just a personal issue either. I feel that if this can happen to me, it is also happening to some of you as well. What would I have done differently if I were to do it over again? I would have examined my own copy of my file yearly, looking for any gaps in testing. But in the beginning you trust your doctor, you trust the process, and you believe you are doing everything you can. But doctors make mistakes, sometimes major mistakes. Sometimes you can’t take their word on something and you need to see it in writing in your hands. I wish I would have asked to have a copy of the test results and actually see the words MTHFR Gene Mutation on the paper. But that paper doesn’t exist because neither did the test. 

 

Throughout this whole process I’m learning to do my own research and take initiative. Because if you just go with the flow of whatever the doctor says you may end up so far away from your solution. Speak up and ask for the testing you need. If your gut tells you, “They don’t know what they are doing” listen to that instinct and find someone who at the very least listens to you. Because if they truly listen and still cannot help you at least they can hopefully point you in the direction of where to go instead.

 

I will let you all know as soon as I get the results from my MTHFR test. For now, I’m considering seeing the highly recommended RE that is not in-network with my insurance. Perhaps she has some advice that can actually help me achieve my dream of having a baby. I told myself I would pay off my debt first before I go down and do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in Seattle. I still have a good chunk of debt left to pay that feels like it’s turning into a Whack-a-Mole game, pay off one bill only to have another equal or more expensive one appear in my mail. I’ll get there eventually. 

 

I’m still exhausting every single possibility of trying to have a biological child. So for all of my family and friends saying, “Why don’t you just adopt?” or “Why don’t you just foster?” I humbly say to you, in time I will, but I don’t want to split my energy in different directions right now. I want to focus on one thing at a time. Some acquaintances I meet ask why I don’t have kids yet. I don’t feel obligated to give them my medical history so instead I give them the canned response of “We’re trying.” The more brazen acquaintances then jokingly say, “You don’t have much time left. You better get on that.” It’s at this point I imagine myself as Mike Tyson punching the shit out of them repeatedly in their smug face, and maybe biting a piece of their ear off for good measure. I’m joking, sort of. But unfortunately they have a point. I’m 33 and I don’t have much time left, which is compounded even more so by the fact that I have Low Ovarian Reserve. So right now this is my focus and I’m doing everything I can.

 

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Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

In one of my infertility groups I read a post from a woman who struggled with multiple miscarriages and failed IVF rounds. She sounded exactly like how I feel, occasionally sad and confused about what will happen next. She asked a very profound question: “How do I get my happiness back?” So many women in the group seem to relate happiness with the end result of a baby. But she asked this question relating it to what she herself can actually do, regardless of whether she continues or discontinues her fertility treatment. A new daily goal of mine is to continually work on creating happiness for myself and from within myself. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you rely on external events to bring you happiness. In other words, it is still possible to be happy and content even if you cannot create a family right now.

 

I wrote the following response to the woman’s post about her question of how to find happiness through all of this: 

 

Sometimes taking a break from planning fertility things, even if it’s just for a month or two can bring much needed peace. I’ve experienced a lot of loss and disappointment as well: 5 miscarriages and 1 failed IVF round. So many of us are right there, feeling exactly like you are. I feel the same way too. Your honesty with your post helped me to feel less alone. Take the time to take care of yourself and do the things you enjoy, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music, journaling, talking with friends, etc. I need to do the same as well. Even in our uncertain times we can make choices to build ourselves up, even if we have to drag ourselves out of bed to enjoy the world outside. For me, doing the opposite of how I feel sometimes helps. If I want to binge watch TV or oversleep beyond what is normal, I try to force myself to go for a drive or be out in nature. The other day I was depressed and only wanted to zone out in front of the TV but I instead went out for a hike. I saw for the first time in my life a mountain sheep very close. Had I not forced myself to get outside I would have missed out on that amazing experience. For me that was a taste of what I could be missing out on if I continue to sit inside and be depressed. I hope you can push yourself too to find what helps you heal.”

 

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A rare find, mountain sheep watches us as we hike.

 

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Book Review “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett

Book Review “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett

This post may contain affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure here.

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Rebecca Fett, writer of “It Starts with the Egg” knows her stuff for sure. Fett is a molecular biologist who understands how the body functions on a cellular level. When faced with her own infertility issues she used her education and research skills to have a successful birth, and shared her extraordinary amount of information for other women to use in her book. She has held the top selling rank on Amazon.com in the Reproductive Medicine category. I’m a member of multiple infertility groups on Facebook, and I continually heard about this book over and over again. The women were very enthusiastic about the book and it was always highly recommended. Many women who spoke endless praises of “It Starts with the Egg” were saying that they were able to finally make their dream of having a baby a reality.

I will not go into detail on all of the topics covered because all of the information and credit goes to Rebecca Fett. Whether you get it from the library, book store, e-book or audio format (I personally love Audible), you have got to read this book. The book is organized into categories for the particular type of infertility issue that one might be facing. For example, I have low ovarian reserve and I’m doing IVF, so I choose to follow the Advanced Plan in her book. There is also a plan for those with PCOS. Some women have been facing infertility for unexplained reasons for a while but they don’t want to do IVF, there is a plan for that as well. Let me also add that you MUST speak with your doctor about your treatment plan and don’t solely rely on the book, because you may have a medical condition that is affecting your infertility that could easily be tested for. In other words, you may think you have “unexplained infertility” but perhaps a simple blood test will explain what is really going on.

I was honestly in a very low place before I started to read this book. But this book has given me a lot of hope because it gives great tangible advice that someone can start right away to improve their odds of success. For example, there is a plethora of information on supplements Fett shares, rooted in case studies that show positive correlations for success. 

I highly recommend you get a copy of her bookOne major change I did right away was to get rid of my plastic dishware and replace it with either glass or stainless steel items. This was the first thing I did and I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing I was taking the first step in reducing my use of products that can have  endocrine disruptors, which can impact fertility. From there, I also changed my make-up and beauty products that had high levels of dangerous chemicals. I recommend using the “Think Dirty” app that allows you can scan the barcode on beauty and cleaning products and shows you if it is dangerous or not. I’ll be doing a more in-depth post in the future on that subject. I’ve been eating healthier and following the food suggestions outlined in this book as well.

So all the talk is true is true ladies! Rebecca Fett has gathered so much information and created an excellent resource for those of use struggling with infertility. This book has actually inspired me to research even more health-related topics. I guess you can say I’ve become quite the health nut this past month. Another added benefit of following her advice is that you are lowering your risk for major health related issues if you follow the dietary suggestions. Reading her book has empowered me to make real changes and was it was the catalyst for me to begin living a healthier lifestyle. You’ve got to read this book!

Purchase your copy now of “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett by clicking here.

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Improve Fertility by Purging Plastics & My Allergic Reaction to CoQ10

Improve Fertility by Purging Plastics & My Allergic Reaction to CoQ10

If you haven’t heard about the book “It Starts With the Egg” by Rebecca Fett, then you are about to have your mind blown. I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews on this book. It is jam-packed with so much science on the subject of improving egg quality. I plan on doing a full review of this book after I finish reading it, but I couldn’t help but share one thing I did today, as suggested from the book. Fett suggests getting rid of BPA plastics in the home. I tossed practically every single plastic item we owned including utensils, dishes, cups, Tupperware, etc. I’m sending it all to the thrift store, instead of the landfill. Someone might as well get some use out of it, for those who don’t buy into all the hubbub about plastics.

To his credit, my husband actually brought up the idea of getting rid of the plastics a while back, but I didn’t really buy into it back then. I kind of thought it was a bunch of [pauses to look up synonyms for “crap”] baloney, bunk, drivel, foolishness, idiocy, bunkum, claptrap, hogwash, poppycock, ridiculousness, rigmarole, tomfoolery, twaddle, ludicrousness. Oh man, the English-major nerd in me got a kick out of that one, “poppycock” being my favorite. Claptrap coming in a close second, only because I’ve never heard that word and I think claptrap sounds like total balderdash.

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You don’t realize how much plastic you use until it’s all laid out.

So whether you believe all the vilification of plastics these days, the science does seem to show a correlation between high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastics we use with higher rates of infertility. I’ll leave all the overwhelming evidence for you to read in the book “It Starts with the Egg.” Since my fertility seems to be equivalent to aligning all the planets not only in this universe but simultaneously in every other universe, I might as well try another method to help improve my odds. I’ve only read a portion of the book so far, but Ms. Rebecca Fett finally convinced me with a slew of detailed information on the subject. I managed to pack up two garbage bags full of plastics. The only stuff left to replace are the water filter, the coffee machine, and measuring cups. I’ll also need to get some replacement spoons for cooking food, either wooden or stainless steel.

I’m reading the second edition of the book where she addresses the subject of how some of her readers became a bit obsessed with avoiding toxic items after reading her first edition. Some toxins are simply unavoidable in our environment.  Many women were following her advice like the be-all and end-all fertility bible to the point where some were developing neuroses trying to rigidly follow her advice. Which is understandable in a way, because many of us are doing everything we can to make our dream of having a baby possible. The bigger issue at play, we are trying to gain a sense of control over something that seems largely out of our control. Essentially what I am saying is to find credible sources, like your doctor and science-based studies, and make the changes where you can. At least that way you can look back and say that you tried everything possible, within reason.

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My dog stares warily at the plastic turkey baster while I gather up all the plastic dishware in the house.

You can’t always follow the advice you read online either, you have to talk with your reproductive endocrinologist. The internet is fraught with terrible advice. I could write an entire post on pro-pineapple and anti-pineapple opinions amongst those of us on the infertility boards. I find it kind of odd that the pineapple is the symbol for fertility, while there are articles showing inconclusive evidence on this, and others that flat out say to avoid the fruit. But that subject is for another time. Maybe this book will address the Great Pineapple Debate and I haven’t reached that part of the book yet.

Another thing to consider is the fact that well-substantiated medical advice on a particular subject may in fact be the exact opposite of what is good for you as an individual. Everyone has jammed CoQ10 down my throat, not literally of course because that would be rude as hell. I was using one brand of CoQ10 for a while, but they ran out of it at the store. No big deal right? I bought a different brand sitting there on the shelf that everyone online raved about and even my doctor recommended. I took the new brand of CoQ10 pill the same way I took my old brand. I didn’t think anything of it, but within 30 minutes both of my arms were almost entirely red and itched like crazy. I broke out into hives, for the first time in my life. I thought maybe it was the new soap I used since I do have sensitive skin. But sure enough when I tried the CoQ10 a different day (minus the soap) I broke out into hives again. Hives don’t seem too conducive to a successful conception if you ask me. I called my doctor and told her my ordeal and she believes that it is likely I’m allergic to one ingredient, most likely one of multiple oils in the pill, and that it would be better to switch back to the other pill once it’s available at the store. Needless to say, I stopped taking that brand entirely. The moral of my story is that your treatment should be individualized to your body, and you shouldn’t feel the need to follow a cookie-cutter approach, especially when everybody and your mother says “it’s the absolute best.”

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All the plastic items from our kitchen that are ready to go out the door.

I went off on a tangent there, but what I am saying is to do your own research of credible sources. Most importantly, you need to exhaust all your testing options to rule out a medical condition that could easily be fixed. But if you’ve ruled everything out with all the blood tests and ultrasounds, why not try something simple like getting rid of your plastics? Because you don’t have anything to lose.

Thank you for reading.

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Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

Movie Review of “Instant Family”

Movie Review of “Instant Family”

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

“Instant Family” is based on the true story about the couple Sean and Beth Anders, who foster three children and shows their process of adopting children from the foster system. Although I am not a foster parent, I believe this movie did an excellent job anticipating and answering a lot of questions for those of us who are considering fostering. This movie is geared more to the perspective of foster parents as opposed to the childrens’, some critics point out. But for someone like myself, who is interested in fostering, I found the movie to be very helpful and inspiring. Some reviewers had expectations of this movie to have more comedy, but I believe this was due to how the movie trailers were marketed. If you set aside the movie trailers and look at the movie itself, it is a great movie with both comedy and drama.

 

“Instant Family” on Amazon Prime 

 

 

“Instant Family” on DVD

 

This movie shows one couple’s story from the beginning (the idea to foster) to the end which was a successful adoption. The movie had a very special opening day, on National Adoption Day. The movie includes many light-hearted and comical moments as the couple bumbles through parenthood for the first time. There are also heart-wrenching moments where you could feel the pain of the children as well as their new foster parents who struggled at times. What seemed to greatly benefit the couple was the foster parent support group they attended. There they shared the frustrating moments, gave candid advice, and of course laughed at each others expense at times because they knew all too well what they were going through.

The support group was one of the most important aspects of the movie, in my opinion, because I didn’t realize before that such a resource existed. I am brand new to the idea of considering fostering, so I am still learning what is available to assist foster parents. In the movie they quickly went over the required training including First Aid CPR, basic parenting skills, and showed scenes of them preparing their home. The movie did a good job showing the general process of fostering a set of siblings, including the highs and lows. I highly recommend this movie to anyone considering fostering, because I know it helped me to become more open to the idea than I was before.

Click here to read the review I did on another way you can build your family with IVF called “Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic (IVF Documentary).”

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Featured Image Credit: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7401588/

 

Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

As you may have noticed from reading the entries just prior to this one, it was during Thanksgiving of 2018. So I’m considering this entry a super condensed version of the last six months (November 2018 – May 2019). But first, I want to give you the results of my 2nd round of IVF:

 

8 eggs retrieved

4 eggs mature/fertilized

3 abnormal embryos (genetic issue would have resulted in miscarriage)

 

As heartbreaking as it was to hear that all three of my embryos were abnormal, I tried to think of it another way. Instead I told myself, “I avoided three miscarriages.” Miscarriages are traumatic and costly for the subsequent surgeries. I have literally lost count of how many surgeries I’ve had because some surgeries were to correct the original surgery. I did the math. The cost of the surgeries and procedures after every miscarriage from natural conception equaled the cost of about 1.5 rounds of IVF.

 

So in my particular situation, the more “affordable route” doesn’t really exist if I want a child that is biologically mine. One of the biggest reasons I chose to do IVF is because I wanted to avoid the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. So maybe now you can see why I would reassure myself with the comment I mentioned before, “I avoided three miscarriages.”

 

I received that sad news in December 2018, and two months later on January 2019 I lost another pregnancy from natural conception, and I needed yet again another surgery. I was working two jobs and my hours were anywhere from 50-75 hours per week. I threw myself into work to stay busy and keep my mind off my emotional pain. I desperately needed to occupy my mind with something all the time. I was also taking a college class.

 

In the beginning of 2019 my Mom found out she had cancer again. My husband and I decided to wait on doing our Frozen Embryo Transfer from our first round of IVF so I could help my Mom. In March three people I knew died in a single week. I began to deeply contemplate what was important in life and began considering cutting back at work. The thing that stopped me from making changes was the high cost of my medical bills I still owed from the last IVF round and the surgeries from my past miscarriages. Our original plans were to do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in April 2019, but Kurtis and I decided to put the brakes on our plans so I could focus on helping Mom.

 

In April I had a migraine almost every 2-3 days, my stress level was increasing to the point where it was unbearable, yet I pushed on. I kept helping Mom, kept working both jobs, and kept going to school. My body was screaming at me to slow down. Around 4am on Easter morning I had to leave in the middle of my shift at my overnight job, because I was having one of the worst migraines of my life. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain in my life, I would say I was at a solid 9. I crawled into bed and told Kurtis, “I feel like I’m dying” and that’s how I truly felt. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and have yet another bill, so I hoped that sleep would help me.

 

Later my husband asked if I wanted to go to Easter brunch but I just couldn’t do it. Shortly after he left I started to really take stock of my situation. My pain was still a 9 out of 10, the sleep didn’t help, and I remembered my Grandma had strokes at a young age. I confirmed with my Mom later that my Grandma started having strokes in her 30s, and I’m 32.

 

And then I had a flashback to the day I noticed the enormous bulk-sized Excedrin bottle that sat on the desk of my high school Spanish teacher. I remember thinking, “she must have really bad migraines like I do too.” Two days after I saw that bottle on her desk we had a substitute teacher explaining to us that our teacher had a stroke and she would likely never be able to teach again. I heard that her stroke so strongly affected her that she was unable to recognize her students. Several months later I saw her in a store parking lot with a cane in one hand and a man stabilizing her other side as he helped her into the passenger side of the car.

 

I’m on blood pressure medicine that also acts as a preventative medicine for my migraines. At this point I was very concerned my blood pressure was high and maybe I was on the brink of having a stroke. A few years back I was on a birth control pill that elevated my blood pressure so much so that I was told by my doctor, “You are at stroke levels.”

 

So back to Easter 2019, my brain feels like it’s going to explode and I decide I need to go to the hospital. I took an Uber and left a voicemail for Kurtis that I was on the way to the hospital. They had put me on a cocktail of four different medications by IV line. I was very slowly beginning to feel better. I had a washcloth over my eyes almost the entire time I laid there in the hospital. Kurtis had forgot his phone in his car during brunch so he came right to the hospital when he heard my voicemail. I lied there wondering if this summer was going to be like the one I had about ten years ago where every single day that entire summer I had a migraine.

 

My co-worker was one of the three people I knew that died in a single week. He was only six years older than me and had a heart attack. Although I don’t know the circumstances that lead to his death I thought about him a lot over the month leading up to this terrible migraine I was having now. I was in a lot of pain and I also had a lot of fear. The doctor was asking me questions about my stress level, the type of work I do, and what is going on in my life that might be triggering these migraines.  The doctor said my blood pressure was very high. I told her I was on blood pressure medicine and she suggested I should double my dose, otherwise I will most likely continue to feel awful. On top of all of that I’ve been having stomach issues and grew concerned I was developing an ulcer. It has been a real domino effect that all came crashing down at once.

 

On that hospital bed I made the decision to make some major changes in my life. I quit one of my two jobs, and I recently reduced my hours at my main job. I also finished my class, somehow amazingly not dropping out this semester. I’m exercising more. I began to make changes with how I am eating (a work in progress). I saw my regular doctor, got a referral for massages for my neck pain (related to tension headaches), and had my first appointment with a nutritionist where I asked a lot of questions about the types of foods to eat and avoid to help with my blood pressure. I’m starting to feel better but I still have some headaches and had a couple migraines, but I’ve still been able to function okay. I’m on double to dose of blood pressure medicine, another to prevent migraines, and another to deal with a migraine the moment I start to get symptoms. I’m also happy to report Mom is now cancer free.

 

All things considered these past six months, I’ve dealt with a crazy amount of stress that I didn’t realize until my body decided to throw the towel in. I honestly feel that I was so focused on staying busy after the failed IVF and the miscarriage right after, that I had ignored my body’s signals that I was headed for trouble. My best way of coping (staying busy) turned out to make things way worse.

 

So here I am now, facing everything that went down and finding other ways to cope. I’ve been listening to music and binging on Netflix. The two weeks I was off work after my massive migraine I binge-watched the entire series of Nurse Jackie, an awesome show by the way. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly sat down and watched several shows in a row. Normally binge-watching is considered unhealthy, but in my case it was exactly what I needed to chill out.

 

How does all of that relate to my infertility journey? Imagine if I did the Frozen Embryo Transfer during all of that stress, there’s no way it would have been healthy for our little embryo. So our one and only embryo waits on ice for a while longer until I can get feeling better. I’m thinking in a few months I’ll head down to finally do the Frozen Embryo Transfer.

 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you. If you skimmed it, I don’t blame you. So there you have it dear reader, you are all caught up on the whirlwind that is my life.

 

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Day 20 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Egg Retrieval Day

Day 20 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Egg Retrieval Day

(Entry written prior to posted date)

 

Today was the big day! I had my egg retrieval surgery and I am feeling pretty optimistic. I felt more calm this time second time around because I knew what to expect. The surgery takes about 30 minutes normally. After the surgery they let me know they were able to retrieve eight eggs, which is absolutely amazing considering my Low Ovarian Reserve/Low AMH levels. Earlier this week it was looking pretty bleak, with only one to two eggs that were mature, but then more little eggies started to join the party. In fact, they were able to retrieve three more eggs than they did the first time.

 

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Eight eggs retrieved!

 

So although they know the number of eggs retrieved today, they won’t know for sure until later how many of those eight eggs were actually mature enough to fertilize. They told me they would give me a call tomorrow with an update. I am very excited and pleased with how many they retrieved. They told me that 10 eggs are normal for someone my age (32 years old), so I am stoked that I am considered almost “normal.” Right now I am just resting in the hotel room while the anesthesia wears off. I’m hoping and praying for a miracle.

 

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Mom & I just before the surgery.

 

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