flowers in the shape of a uterus

The Appointment that Finally Happened: Seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist

One year ago I shared about my husband’s and my struggle with secondary infertility. At that point, we had been trying to have another child for about a year and a half.

Today we’re past the two year mark, right at 28 months.

28 months.

Also in my previous post, I had shared that we had been referred to see fertility specialists, but that the doctor I was needing to see had about a year-long waiting list.

Well, the year passed and the appointment finally happened – on August 26th of this year I had my initial appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist at The Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech.

Entrance to Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech

I had really been hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, that I would find myself pregnant before the dreaded appointment arrived. We had tried one intervention that we were hopeful would give us a better shot at getting pregnant, (a prescription medication), but still nothing had happened so far.

Usually at any kind of fertility appointment, I find myself very jittery and emotionally fragile overall. Also adding stress to the day was the fact that this appointment was three hours away (because there are no fertility specialists in Abilene, TX) and I was by myself (because the logistics of work and picking up our son from school didn’t really warrant both my husband and I being gone all day).

I didn’t really know what to expect at the appointment. I had Googled about initial fertility specialist appointments, but the not-knowing also added to the levels of anxiety I had that day.

The appointment started with me paying a $125 copay up front, which was not covered by insurance. (From what I’ve heard, most fertility services are not covered by insurance at all. So you’re potentially paying hundreds to thousands of dollars all out of pocket.)

After waiting a long time, I was finally called back so I could wait some more in the much smaller waiting room. At every appointment I always bring a book with me to read, and I never end up reading it. When I’m anxious, I find that I can’t concentrate enough to read. So I end up just staring at random objects in the room, like counting the ceiling tiles or reading the informational pamphlet about IUDs.

The two biggest concerns I had for my doctor at this appointment were:

1) the pharmacy we had previously been getting the medication from stopped providing it (and it had seemed like it was potentially increasing our odds of getting pregnant) so I wondered if they could figure out another way to get it?

2) I had major reservations about IVF, and was assuming the doctor was going to tell me that it was really the only feasible option I had left.

When my doctor finally arrived, she was great – she was so warm and kind, and it was obvious that she understood the toll that infertility takes on the patients she sees. (I had read great reviews about her, so I wasn’t surprised, and that was also why I decided to wait a year to see her – I figured if I was going to go to a reproductive endocrinologist, I wanted it to be a highly-recommended one.)

She reviewed my chart, and then proceeded to do a vaginal ultrasound (which was a new thing for me!) Honestly though, it was kind of amazing how much information the doctor could get via ultrasound. She measured how thick my uterine lining was (in millimeters) and was even able to see which ovary I had ovulated from (the ultrasound literally showed a little hole where the egg had come from!)

For concern #1, she was confident they could find another pharmacy to get us the medication from (it ended up being almost twice the price – about $800 for a month’s supply – but at least someplace was stocking it.)

Regarding concern #2, my doctor actually didn’t even talk to me that much about IVF, and instead recommended we try IUI (intrauterine insemination).

For those not in infertility-land, basically IUI is a process where they place a concentrated amount of sperm directly in the uterus (this avoids sperm having to try to get past the cervix on their own, which ends up killing the vast majority of them) right around the time you are going to ovulate. I was told each time we tried IUI that we’d have a 30% chance of getting pregnant (which is better than the normal odds for a couple – about 20-25% in a healthy couple with no fertility issues).

Each round of IUI costs about $500 (plus the driving/taking off work, etc.) If we decide to do 3 rounds of IUI in the next 6 months, and add in the additional cost of the prescription medication, we are maybe running a total of about $6000 (ish). Expensive? Certainly. But still way less than IVF, which I hear is estimated closer to $15,000-20,000(!)

All in all, the appointment ended up being a good one – and by that I mean that I left the appointment not feeling totally emotionally shattered – I would say I left feeling a tiny bit hopeful. I was surprised at my doctor’s optimism, but also still a bit skeptical.

So what’s next? My husband and I still have some processing to do, and ultimately some decisions to make. Obviously no matter what we decide to do, there are no guarantees.

Emotionally, I’m doing well (right now). I’m feeling much more at peace about the whole thing, which is certainly not always the case. (That could change quickly!)

If you’ve made it this far in the post, thanks for (virtually) walking along this journey with me. My hope is that sharing my story encourages others who may find themselves dealing with fertility struggles. ❤

2 thoughts on “The Appointment that Finally Happened: Seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist

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