Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blogtavism: The My Story Project

My husband and I began thinking about starting a family in June 2005, shortly after our engagement. We were both young - I was 22 and he was 26. We thought it would be easy. We had heard all of our lives that the minute you decide to try, you get pregnant. Little did we know what was in store for us. Over two years later, we have suffered two miscarriages (one after a heartbeat was detected) and have undergone numerous tests and procedures to figure out why we are unable to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Approximately 4.1% of women under the age of 25 suffer from infertility. Women under age 25 have a 10% risk of miscarriage. Less than 1% will have recurrent pregnancy loss. I happen to fall on the wrong side of the statistics.


My official diagnosis is ovulatory dysfunction, which means my ovaries do not release an egg every 28 days, as in most women. It is totally unpredictable. There are times when I do not ovulate at all (anovulation) and must use medication to induce my period. There are other times when my ovulation is delayed, which produces a low-quality egg that is unable to be fertilized. The average couple has a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy each month. My husband and I have less than a 10% chance of conceiving naturally each month. To put myself on the same playing field as a fertile woman, I must take oral medication (Clomid) and inject myself with the hormone hCG to induce ovulation. This medication causes numerous side effects such as mood swings, hot flashes, and weight gain. But I am more than happy to deal with these side effects if it means a live baby waits for me at the end.

Thankfully, our insurance has covered most of our procedures to date. I have had an HSG dye test that was covered 100% to rule out uterine abnormalities and my husband's semen analysis was also covered. Clomid is also covered, although my hCG is not. However, the recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) panel that would test for chromosomal abnormalities will not be covered until I have had three recurrent miscarriages. As if the babies we create are just lottery tickets - if we don't win, just throw it away and try again. I wish it were that easy. Our insurance also will not cover IVF, which along with pre-genetic testing (PGD) may be necessary should we discover that one of us has a chromosomal defect. Most people say that, in that case, we should "just adopt". And adopting may, in fact, be an option for us down the line. But all I want is the chance to create a family. I just want to have the same chance at conceiving as any fertile woman.

Despite my hardships, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. There are many women I know who have paid out of pocket for expensive, high-risk treatments and have still failed in their attempts to conceive. As a 24 year old female, I should be at my most fertile. Alas, I am not. And it will only get worse as I age. My husband and I are limited in our options because we are unable to find a reason behind our losses. Without an explanation, we have no solution. Infertility and pregnancy loss is heartwrenching and studies show it causes depression similar to someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer. It puts stress on your work life to take time off for treatments. It puts stress on your marriage as sex becomes a chore and you fear you will never give your spouse a child. It puts stress on your friendships as people around you conceive easily and you attempt to mask your feelings of jealousy. The last thing we need to worry about amongst our medical conditions are financial worries. Women are left to select treatments based on what is covered by their insurance plan rather than what is most appropriate, forcing many of them to have less effective but covered treatments such as surgeries for blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis rather than pursuing IVF, even though the cost is about the same and IVF is statistically more likely to result in a successful pregnancy. Some women even travel to foreign countries for less expensive procedures, possibly putting their health in danger. Mandated insurance coverage for infertility would allow women the right to choose which treatment is best regardless of dollar signs. The argument against mandated insurance coverage in the past has been that having a child is a lifestyle choice. Having a child may be a lifestyle choice, but what about those who smoke - is smoking not a lifestyle choice - and cost insurance companies BILLIONS of dollars when they develop COPD? IVF would cost much less and would not only save lives - the quality of life for infertile women as well as babies lost as a result of other less effective treatments or no treatments at all - it would create lives.



This post was made possible by the Stirrup Queen herself.

16 comments:

Meghan said...

Fantastic post. I need to do this

s day said...

Well put.

Courtney said...

Touche! Think about the hearts that could be mended if even a little funding was thrown our way...

Melissa said...

Great post! You hit the nail on the head. It never made sense to me that IF treatments wouldn't be covered by insurance, yet diseases brought on by smoking and obesity are covered 100%.

What a well-written post! I couldn't have said it better myself.

Cindy Nguyen said...

Agree with you 100%! Right on sister.

lady in waiting said...

I completely agree. It upsets me that people choose to smoke, yet their related illnesses are covered by insurance.
I read about IF being as stressful as cancer treatments. I've never been through cancer treatments, but depression and stress over something health related can be overwhelming, so I imagine this is probably true.

Genny said...

Even though I've also had a miscarriage and spent the last 13 months wrestling with infertility, I'm a little discouraged by your post. I understand wanting infertility treatments covered by insurance. However it is wrong to state that other diseases are covered "100%". My uncle had lung cancer (he was never a smoker) and his insurance barely covered his first chemo. Both his sons gave him all of their college money & savings to help pay for his treatments and he was still paying huge hospital bills when he died nine months later. My best friend's mother got kidney cancer and even though she passed away 30 days after her diagnosis, her daughters had to chip in thousands of dollars for her care. Those were life and death cases, and their insurance still did not cover the costs "100%".

My current insurance doesn't cover anything fertility related. Would it be nice if they did? Sure. Am I going to demand that they do? No. Where would the line be? Should they cover oral & injectible meds? Any & all testing? IUIs? IVFs? If so, how many rounds? There will always be someone who doesn't get pregnant after the covered rounds, so no number will be "enough" and will always seem unfair to some couples.

This isn't to say that I think ART coverage should not be offered. I just think there is more to be considered on this subject.

Kristen said...

Genny,

I am deeply sorry to hear of the situations you mentioned with your family members. I think it is ridiculous that things such as erectile dysfunction can be covered, while other illnesses including cancer may not be. I was not referring to cancer in my argument - I strictly mentioned COPD because 90% of COPD cases are a direct result of smoking, which is a lifestyle choice. My uncle ( a heavy smoker) has COPD and still smokes 3-4 packs a day while his insurance covers numerous procedures in full. I just don't understand how a condition caused by smoking would be deemed okay to cover, while someone suffering from infertility (which having a child is a lifestyle choice), is not covered. Which lifestyle choices are deemed acceptable and which are not? Who draws the line here? Obviously, cancer is a life threatening illness and should be treated 100%, IMHO. COPD, however, is not lung cancer - it is a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. I have a problem with infertility being singled out as unimportant or a "minority issue". 1 in 12 people suffer from infertility and I think it should be recognized as a medical condition. Will it kill me? Maybe (if I become depressed enough), maybe not. But that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve attention. Someone who loses their leg in an accident may not die without a prosthetic device but yet some insurance companies will cover those. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Each insurance company provides different levels of coverage - some cover IVF and some don't. Mine does not and I applied this to my situation. I don't think that insurance companies should pay for an unlimited number of IVF procedures. I just believe that women should be given the option of IVF, even if it is covered just once. In my situation, my husband and I may have to resort to IVF with PGD to rule out or try to correct any genetic issues. But we may have to go straight to adoption since the cost out of pocket is about the same and I am sure to get a child in the end. If insurance covered this, I could try IVF and if it failed, I would know I did all I could to have a biological child and could put my whole heart into adoption. But with money as an issue, I would have to forgo IVF and would always wonder "what if". What if I had just one shot?

Again, this is just my opinion on the matter. Being an infertility blog, I obviously am passionate about the subject. You may disagree or agree with me. I appreciate that you have taken the time to comment and spark discussion. That is what needs to happen. The general population needs to be made aware of the issues surrouding infertility, instead of locking it away as a taboo subject.

JJ said...

Great addition to the fabulous blogtavism letters being written! Cheers to you Kristen.

said...

I'm also in my early 20's....it's absolutely shocking to me that I can't get pregnant. Like you said- you always think when you try it will just happen.

said...

I'm also in my early 20's....it's absolutely shocking to me that I can't get pregnant. Like you said- you always think when you try it will just happen.

Yodasmistress said...

Well said.

Geohde said...

Hear hear.

J

SaraS-P said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I need to do this, too.

Hilary (The Trying Game) said...

That, my dear, was one hell of an amazing post. Just awesome.

BethH6703 said...

Wonderful post!