Unbearable: A User’s Guide to Treating Infertility with Hormone Therapy

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Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

Oh hormones. They certainly keep life interesting, don’t they? You spend years thinking that you have too many of them, until you’d actually like them to do something productive and they fall asleep on the job.

For women attempting to get pregnant, there’s suddenly a whole new world of hormones to think about. Far beyond the teenage years, where all you knew is that they were “raging”, fertility treatments quickly catch a girl up on all those hormones and just what they do. From the very first round of tests, you start to learn about estrodial and follicle stimulating hormones. “Have your periods slowed down? Probably a low FSH.” In time, these observations become oh-so-common.

Women dealing with infertility will find out, it’s all about the hormones and there are a million different drugs you can take to try and get everything back in line. Lupron, Metrodin, any form of hCG, progesterone, Repronex, Clomid… What? You thought the only one that mattered was estrogen? Oh no, no, no.

Every woman has to work with her doctor to figure out which combination of hormones will work for her. But no matter how many prescriptions you end up filling, here’s some basics about hormone therapy to keep in mind.

  • $$$. The things get expensive. Most fertility clinics have a “second-hand system” that you’ll want to look into. Basically, the doctor will prescribe you a massive amount of drugs right in the beginning. Some women need the entire prescription and more, but some women respond quickly to the drugs and don’t end up needing as much. There’s no return policy on these things, so the ladies with left-overs are happy to sell them to another patient at a discount. I’m not sure that it’s entirely legal or that the clinic can endorse this practice without getting in trouble, but there’s always a list out there of women who have extra drugs sitting in their crispers next to the broccoli.
  • Find a real pharmacy. Forget Walgreens and CVS. They’re just not going to work here. If your clinic doesn’t already have a single pharmacist that they work with, find a business that can compound their own prescriptions and works with custom pharmaceuticals. They’ll take more time to go over all of your medications, every possible side effect and anything else that you might want to ask. Also, they’ll normally be faster and more capable of answering questions over the phone.
  • Timing matters. This isn’t like your birth control and a couple of memory lapses can set you back a couple of months and a lot of money. Anyone remember when the iPhone alarms didn’t work and a couple missed their fertility injection? Thousands of dollars were wasted and the internet was in an uproar? Hopefully, everything worked out for the couple but I can’t imagine what their frustration might have been. And you don’t want to either. So set multiple non-Apple alarms and keep on top of those shots!
  • “No serious side effects.” You know how no two periods are the same? Sometimes you can barely tell it’s happening and others you want to curl up into the fetal position and cry for a couple days? Well that’s because our body constantly reacts differently to hormones. No two bodies do the same thing and they don’t even do their own thing consistently. I’m not quite sure how some of these drug makes can claim no side effects, but maybe the reactions are so scattered that there just isn’t any pattern to report. Either way, shoving a whole lot of hormones into your body will definitely have an effect. There’s just no telling what it will be.
  • It’s a process. Hormone therapy, either before you consider measures like IVF or in conjunction with in vitro, takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources. It has to become a part of your routine. It’s easy to get frustrated and upset, but it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize. After all, shooting up isn’t particularly enjoyable, but having a baby is. Keep the outcome as your focus and try not to let the struggle get you down. You can do this.