Arghhh. I hate this topic, it always feels slightly unfair because when it comes to fertility there seems to be a big conversational imbalance between men and women, especially once us ladies hit our thirties. Nevertheless, the realities of biology are as such, that we’re forced to have to confront the choice of motherhood earlier than our male counterparts and so I raise this topic because, well, denying it isn’t going to help anyone.
I don’t know how you feel, but for a long time I’ve felt like I’ve been carrying this ticking time bomb – an immovable countdown to a childless existence. It’s like my eggs are trapped in the hourglass that is my body and as time passes they disappear for all eternity and with them the potential for a very different life. Dramatic I know, but I think this reality hangs over the head of many women in their thirties.
The truth is, for today, I don’t know if I want to have children. I’m not against it or for it, just for today, in this moment, I don’t know if I’m ready or want to make the lifelong commitment. Unfortunately my ovaries don’t get a “time out” to join my rational thinking and so I’m forced to make an educated decision about becoming a parent sooner than I’d like to. By nature I’m a very “let’s tackle this head on” kinda girl and as a big believer in knowledge is power, I decided to get educated about my body, my egg count and my ability to fall pregnant. I mean it was possible that I might not even have a choice in the matter and that I’ve spent all this time worrying about something that wasn’t even an option. So I bit the bullet and booked myself an appointment at a fertility clinic. Also, because I’m a big believer in full disclosure I want you to know that up until a few months ago I didn’t even know you could get your eggs counted – my girlfriend told me about it and that’s what sparked my journey..
After doing some research, I booked an appointment at a fertility clinic I found online (bless Google). They were having an “offer” for £98 which included the following:
- Consultation with their Fertility Specialist
- Vaginal Ultrasound complete with antral follicle count
- AMH blood test – to assess ovarian reserve
- Follow Up Consultation to discuss results
That seemed reasonable to me and so I committed.
Next came a detailed questionnaire, which explored the ins and outs of my period, lifestyle choices, sexual behaviour and family history. I wish I was a little bit more in touch with my body than I am, there is so much that I don’t actually know or remember, like how old I was when I got my first period. I think I was 12 or 13, but I don’t have it marked up somewhere in a magical calendar with the wrappers of my first pad purchase.
After completing the paperwork I had to pick a date for my appointment and that too was tricky. You need to book your appointment between day 5 and 14 of your cycle, which would be okay if I had a regular cycle, but clearly I don’t – my period is a little more impromptu. Since the clinic was booked up for two months I tried to make my best guestimation and hoped that my eggs would drop conveniently at the right time. Luckily they did.
On the day I entered the clinic. Of course I was slightly nervous.I entered into the building to discover a waiting room where I was surrounded by couples. I was the only single person in the room. At this stage I had been dating my boyfriend for about 6 weeks and booked the appointment prior to us meeting and to be honest I would not have wanted him there. I was doing this test for me and no one else. Hence why I was solo, so super duper unquestionably solo in that waiting room.
Eventually I was taken to my doctors room where we had a conversation for about 20 minutes about the answers in my paperwork. Scattered across her desk were brochures on IVF, egg freezing and sexual health. I thought about what type of conversations other women, especially those struggling to get pregnant must have had in that room. It’s such a personal, invasive topic. The female doctor I had was… umm… professional. She wasn’t particularly warm but I guess we weren’t meant to besties by the end of this but I hoped it would be a bit more… personable maybe? She talked me through the process and then we were off get my tests done.
First off my AMH blood test, pretty straight forward – needle, vein, tube, blood extraction, done.
Next, the transvaginal ultrasound. I was taken into a room where there was a chair similar to that of a dentists chair, where I was asked to take off my pants and try “relax”. At this point I started to get really nervous. Suddenly I did wish someone was by my side to distract me from the uncomfortable mental space. The doctor picked up the vaginal transducer, lubed it up and began her internal examination.
It’s always weird to have someone inside you. I kept breathing and “relaxing” to make accessing my ovaries as easy as possible. She found them and started counting, she moved the wand first exploring my right side then my left. She also showed me the ultrasound image. I could kind of make out what she was looking at but to be honest it was all quite blurry and unclear. She seemed happy. It looked like I had a good reserve and no immediate warning signs of impending infertility (PHEW) but the doctor did say she could only give me my results the following day post blood test and so the waiting game began.
The next day I received the email.
What a massive massive massive relief. I felt grateful that the door was still open (even if I didn’t know if I wanted to walk through it.)
Thinking about it again makes me uncomfortable, the heaviness of the decision that lies ahead – whether or not to have kids. I feel eternally grateful that I have an option as I know not all women even have that good fortune. I want to thank my body for biologically giving me the option (thank you body). Although I’m aware there are still plenty of factors ahead of why I may not easily fall pregnant if I want to…
Now the question is, should you do it? Should you get your eggs counted? It’s a big decision but whether you do or don’t get an ultrasound, your egg count will remain the same. I am very happy that I did it because up until my results I had no clue about the state of my fertility. I’m glad I invested in my own peace of mind, so I could make an educated choice about my personal sexual behaviour. Ultimately each woman must do whats right for her, but I personally would recommend it because as I said “knowledge is power” and the more power I have when it come to my life choices the better off I am in my decision making process.