I have four words for you.
Clomid. Is. The. Devil.
Seriously. It’s this teeny tiny little white pill that promises you this amazing thing you are craving, called pregnancy. And then after you take it for a while you become a crazy person with uncontrollable mood swings. Or you get headaches. Or you get hot flashes (like hard core menopause hot flashes). Or you get night sweats. Or you get nauseous with belly pain. Or, you are like me and you become a crazy person with a migraine, constant hot flashes who wakes up drenched at night, feeling like you are going to puke and completely at the mercy of your hormone induced mood swings.
But, I took it. I took it for almost two years. And while I knew that it sucked, I didn’t realize how much until I finally got to go off of it and I started to feel like a real person again.
A little while ago, I wrote a post about when I first learned that I had PCOS and was going to need help getting pregnant. You can read that HERE. This post is the next step in that journey and was arguably the longest step as treating infertility is not one size fits all and it’s not simple. Definitely not simple.
If you are just beginning your own journey in infertility, my one piece of advice to you is this… see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) as soon as you can get the referral. I stayed with my regular OB for a while and while he knew some… he was not as knowledgeable as the RE. I did clomid cycles under both my OB and my RE. My OB was just following a basic guideline that involved a standard dose and timed intercourse. My RE was way more strategic in his approach to my treatments, so, as soon as you can… go. They know what they are doing.
As I said, everyone’s treatment is going to be a bit different, but everyone will have blood work done – a lot of blood work. All husbands will have to make an initial “donation” for analysis. And likely, there will be some other outpatient testing. I was lucky… my only real hospital based test was the hysterosalpingogram (HSG). Trust me when I say that you should definitely take the recommended pain medication prior to this procedure. It didn’t take long, but I was pretty certain my ovaries were exploding for a few seconds there. Fortunately for me… my tubes were clear.
After all of my initial testing, I was sent home with a jacked up dose of metformin (a medication specific to my PCOS diagnosis) and very specific instructions on how and when to take the clomid, with plans to combine the little devil pills with intrauterine insemination (IUI) this time to better our chances for a positive pregnancy test. I followed my medicine regimen like the diligent fertility-challenged patient I was. On specific days, I would drag myself north for my vaginal ultrasounds to check on my follicle growth and to determine when timing was optimal for the IUI. (Spoiler alert – this is rarely the first check. At least it wasn’t for me. We would adjust medication doses and repeat a few times until eventually, those little follicles looked ready to go.)
My first clomid cycle with my RE was also my first introduction to giving myself an injection. Little did I know, that I would eventually become a pro. But, for that first one… I was terrified. I stood there in the kitchen with my hands shaking, in a complete and utter panic that I would do something wrong. There was a lot of pressure on that one little shot. This medicine was designed to induce ovulation and it needed to be given EXACTLY when the RE told me to give it in order to time my IUI procedure just right for the next morning. I am not exaggerating. They tell you to set an alarm so you are ready to inject at a very specific time – down to the minute.
Intrauterine insemination. It’s such a big term, but honestly, it’s really a very anti-climatic procedure. It feels a lot like you are just at a regular OB appt for your annual check-up, except it takes less time. Literally, a minute or two from start to finish, some awkward conversation about the quality of my cervical mucous and 10 minutes of just lying there afterwards (for no real reason, I am told, other than it certainly doesn’t hurt the cause) and you are up and out the door and back to your life as if nothing happened.
Except it did. And two weeks later, I returned for my blood test to see if I was pregnant. But, more on that to come.