We met our fertility consultant on the Monday last week. He was running late by nearly an hour, so we didn’t see him until 20:30 that evening. By this time, I was already yawning my head off after being awake at 5:45 am and then enduring a crazy day at work.
First, we talked about Joy. The scrotal support has now retired after a good job done and things are healing well. To all of Joy’s friends, sadly, Joy had threatened divorce if I posted a picture of him wearing his scrotal support. So I compromised…
Next, the Consultant tells me to wake up as it is now my turn. You are going to want to listen, he says, as he takes out a flip chart with pictures and diagrams.
The IVF Long Protocol
It starts when the red lady knocks.
On day 21 of my cycle, I come in for a baseline vag scan*. I then start injecting myself daily with Buserelin, a drug which cuts the communication between the brain and my ovaries. In other words, I am put into temporary menopause and yes, I will experience all the symptoms that come with menopause. To my husband, friends and colleagues, I apologise in advance.
When the red lady comes knocking the second time, I go in for another vag scan. This time to see if my womb is ready for the second daily injection, Menopur. This is the drug that will stimulate my follicles. If I’m not lucky, they will tell me to come back later and I will have to endure yet another vag scan to see if my womb is behaving. If I’m lucky, I will immediately commence the menopur, which now means having two daily injections to the fatty part of my bum. Come to think of it, is lucky the right word to use?
After a week of the two injections, can you guess what will come next? You guessed it. Another vag scan. This time to see if the follicles are stimulated enough. If it isn’t, they will tweak the dosage and ask me to come back later. If my follicles are behaving, and I hope they will be first time round, I will then have a third injection called Ovittrell, aka the trigger shot. This is what matures the eggs inside the follicles. Within 36 hours, I will be back for the egg collection procedure, which thankfully, they will knock me out for.
Are you still following this? Is this all making sense to you? Asks the Consultant. Probably because I looked overwhelmed and stupid. I think so, I say. But in hindsight, I think I was a deer in headlights. A very tired deer in headlights.
ICSI will now take place, where they insert a good strong swimmer into a good quality egg. Once the egg turns into an embryo, I will be back for the final procedure, the embryo transfer.
Now this is the one that worries me.
I will not have any sedation or be put to sleep. Instead, I am instructed to have a full bladder to enable the Consultant to do an external ultrasound. This means he will be pushing the scanner down on my full bladder while I have a speculum* and thin tube up my vag.
The procedure only takes about 10-15 minutes, he says, as if this is no time at all when you desperately need to pee.
Has anyone ever peed on you? I ask, thinking I am probably going to pee on him.
Only twice in my whole time doing this, he says proudly. Yep, I think to myself, I am definitely going to pee on him.
Then, it’s daily vaginal suppositories for two weeks, twelve weeks if you’re pregnant and you’re done! He finishes and closes his flip chart.
VAGINAL WHAT NOW?! AND FOR HOW LONG?! This is what went on inside my head. But outwardly, I controlled my panic and calmly asked him to explain.
The suppositories release the hormone progesterone, which helps to optimise the conditions in the womb, to help the embryo stick. It is about as big as a tampon and you insert it up, daily. And he said it, just like that, like it was no big deal. He even did the motion with his finger, just a quick upward jab of the pointy finger.
Later, I spoke with a friend who has lived through the IVF long protocol. On the subject of vag suppositories, her nurse had told her that if it leaks out the vag, then insert it up the ass.
Honestly, I wouldn’t wish IVF on my worst enemy.
*Vag scan: form of ultrasound where they insert a dildo shaped scanner up your vag to check out what’s going on in there.
*Speculum: tool which spreads your vag to enable procedures like pap smears or embryo transfers.