Initial specialist consultation

Written by S




Today we had our initial appointment with Queensland Fertility Group. If I’m going to be honest I have to admit it was quite overwhelming. There was a lot of information thrown at us which was great in one way, as up to this point we really only had a general idea of the steps involved.
Our fertility specialist explained the options we had as a same sex couple wanting to achieve pregnancy;
– AI (artificial insemination), or
– IVF (in vitro fertilisation)
These two methods are significantly different.
Firstly, the success rates differ quite a lot. Statistically there is a 12-15% chance of achieving pregnancy using the AI method. This is basically the same success rate that hetero couples have when trying to conceive. 
IVF on the other hand has a success rate (for my age of 29) of close to 50%. So yeah, pretty big difference there.
The other major difference between the two is cost. 
With AI, you have the sperm donor expense of approx $1000 per vial (1 vial is used per cycle) and the the procedure itself will cost $250. 
IVF will cost a LOT more. All up (including donor sperm) it’s approximately $14,000 per cycle. Being in a lesbian relationship I am considered ‘socially infertile’ rather than ‘infertile’ meaning that we are not eligible for medicare funding under Australian law. If we were eligible, it would decrease the cost to somewhere around $4000 per cycle. As you can imagine we were both pretty gutted at that. Turns out however that if I have two unsuccessful attempts at AI then I am considered infertile and therefore eligible for medicare funding. So that’s our plan right now. After two attempts we are going straight to IVF. 
Our specialist was quite lovely and I think we both felt relatively comfortable with her. I use the term ‘relatively’ as I’m never completely comfortable with anyone in the medical profession. Not sure why but I am starting to realise I really need to get over that. 
Immediately after our appointment we had to go down to the QFG blood collection centre for more bloods to test for AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) which checks my ovarian reserve. Turns out we are born with a lifetime supply of eggs and they decrease in both quality and quantity as we age. The level of hormone is apparently a good indicator of my ovarian reserve.
Our next appointment with our specialist is in 4 weeks, however in the meantime there are a few things we have to do. The first one is meeting with the QFG Donation Programme Coordinators so we can register and choose a sperm donor. Secondly we have to attend the compulsory counselling session (anyone wanting to use a sperm donor must do this) with the psychologist. Thirdly, I need to have a Hysterosalpingogram done at an Xray clinic to ‘assess tubal patency’. This is just to check that my fallopian tubes aren’t blocked. It sounds pretty horrible to me and I am actually really scared. It involves a vaginal ultrasound followed by a catheter inserted up into the uterine cavity. A saline solution is introduced into the catheter followed by dye. I’m told it’s painful but the dye part only lasts for about a minute or so. There is another way but it involves key hole surgery and a general anaesthetic. Our specialist says it’s unnecessary to choose surgery over the Xray method, given my age.

So I guess that’s what I have to do. 

Until next time…
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