It started as a little niggle. Something just wasn’t quite right. My periods were irregular whilst at the same time greeting me all too often every 12-20 days.
Every time I was thinking I had just ovulated I would then experience some suspicious spotting. Always the optimist, I would think, ‘maybe it’s early implantation bleeding?’ but every single time I would be proved wrong.
I decided to get help. My first consultation with a female GP didn’t go so well. Feeling flustered and rushed, I explained my worry about my short cycles and that we were trying to conceive. Unbelievably, she laughed in my face. She actually laughed at me! I drove away in tears after she basically told me that at 27 I was very young and to not ‘be silly’. She believed it was my body settling down after the pill. I was bluntly told to come back in a year if we still hadn’t conceived.
As the niggle still lingered, I waited a couple more months before attempting to get some advice from a different GP, hopefully one that was more empathetic this time. He also didn’t seem to be able to see past the fact that I was 27 and just assumed I would be able to conceive. Thankfully however he agreed (albeit reluctantly) to run some blood tests. Persistence pays off it would seem! I was told to come in on day three of my next cycle to have my FSH tested. Two days later I was relieved to receive a text message to say ‘your blood results are normal; no further action is needed’. Yay!
To this point, arming myself with as much knowledge as I could gather was my way of coping with what was becoming constant disappointment. To tell you the truth, I was fascinated about how difficult it could be to actually conceive. So many things need to align for conception to take place, I wondered why I’d always been so worried about falling pregnant if I’d taken my pill just a few hours later than I should have!
So I knew that I was fine, but after all of the research I’d been doing I needed to know how fine I was, if that makes sense? My research had made me curious about hormone levels and I still worried about the all too often periods. With all the reading I’d been doing I knew that my FSH should be low on cycle day three, the lower the better and definitely not anywhere north of 10.
It was Friday before a Bank Holiday weekend, the day before our engagement party, when I called the Surgery and asked for a copy of my results. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. I opened the envelope and could not believe my eyes – FSH 17.9. As I fought back tears I tried to convince myself on the drive home that I had got it wrong. How could a GP have read those results and thought they were normal for a day three test?!
As it was Bank Holiday weekend the wait seemed like forever. I pulled myself together enough to ‘fake smile’ my way through our engagement party even though I could have burst into tears at any moment. Typically it took until the following Wednesday to be able to challenge the GP about the results.
“Oh, didn’t you have the test mid-cycle?” he said.
“No.” I replied through gritted teeth whilst holding back tears, “You told me to have it on day 3. Mid-cycle would be pointless.”
“Ah. In which case it doesn’t seem normal does it. You’re young though, I’m sure it isn’t going to be a problem. We’ll repeat them on your next cycle.”
No apology for getting it wrong, just another reference to me being young! I was caught between complete shock, devastation and anger. I was infuriated that something so trivial to him could be so potentially life-changing for me.
I desperately needed answers and soon became chained to the laptop. I was a glutton for punishment, hopelessly scouring the internet for stories that might make me feel better but they only made things worse. Matt was getting increasingly frustrated as I tortured myself, seeing me sob uncontrollably as I read yet another article that suggested I would never have children. It consumed me.
I booked a private appointment with a gynaecologist and thankfully only had to wait a few days. It is here where my luck with medical professionals changed – the Consultant I saw was incredible and continues to this day to be the prime reason we are where we are now. Armed with my temperature mapping, ovulation charts, FSH results and comprehensive self-diagnosis I blurted out everything I was convinced was happening. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to be right. I’d hoped deep down that somehow, I’d got it horribly wrong.
Sadly however, it turned out I was 100% correct (well done me!) and for my 28th birthday I was confirmed as having Premature Ovarian Failure. Now, if there’s a word that doesn’t fill you full of hope, it’s ‘failure’, right?!
Within 15 minutes of meeting my amazing Consultant, he was pacing the room in front of me on the phone to a Consultant he knew at the local IVF clinic. He told me that as my eggs were potentially limited our best chance would be to start IVF straight away, like next month!
He re-ran my FSH and tested my AMH, a much more reliable test of ovarian reserve and called me at work the following week with the results. Starting the conversation with the phrase “Are you sitting down?” I just knew it wasn’t good news. My AMH was 0.74, a figure more likely seen by someone in their late 40’s, indicating with much more certainty a low ovarian reserve and little chance of conceiving, even with the help of IVF.
And so, we were catapulted onto the IVF rollercoaster without even a second thought about what was to come…
NEXT POST – Exciting New Starts (Whilst Avoiding False Starts)