At our first IVF consult, our doctor seemed very confident that we would have success. We went over how the process worked, the cost (gulp), and timing. The final part of the consult was a quick exam of my reproductive organs, to make sure everything looked good to go before we scheduled the cycle and got started. As soon as the doctor began my ultrasound, his face grew concerned and he looked at me with sympathy in his eyes.
“Well, it looks like we have a little bump in the road here….you have endometriosis.”
I sat straight up on the exam bed. ”I DO?!” I blurted out. How had this never been discovered before? I was 32 years old, I had been going to an OB/GYN for 15 years for regular check ups. I had painful periods…but didn’t everyone? What did this mean for our journey to have our baby?
Apparently, I also have what are called endometriomas on both of my ovaries…large cysts filled with endometrial blood as a result of things back-flowing through my fallopian tubes during my period. Lovely. Mine at the time of my first exam were 8cm each. To put that in perspective, an average ovary is 3-5cm in size. So I had cysts hanging off my ovaries that were roughly twice as big as the ovary itself. My doctor was amazed I wasn’t complaining of more pain.
Occasionally, you can push forward with IVF even with endometriomas, and the follicles that hold the eggs just grow around where the cyst is. Due to the size of mine, the doctor felt it was best to have them reduced in size before we tried to do anything to my ovaries. Endometriosis feeds off of estrogen, which is what skyrockets to produce a bunch of eggs during IVF, and things could get bad if these monster cysts got any bigger. So, we scheduled a laparoscopy / hysteroscopy surgery the week after Christmas when I would be off work. Nothing says Happy New Year like clean ovaries.
The surgery went as well as it could…my endometriosis appeared far worse than we suspected, once the doctor got in there to take a look. He didn’t even give me a stage for the disease, just told my husband it was “a mess in there” and gave us some graphic photos of my insides that looked like an R rated crime scene. Since endometriosis is a sticky disease, to remove it all he would have had to cut into a lot of the organs I still need to use if we are going to get this baby. So we only removed enough to get my ovaries exposed so we could move forward with IVF after I did a few months of recovery and suppression. The doctor said after we are done having babies, I would need a full hysterectomy. For now, the best thing to do would be get me pregnant, because it would shut down the system that fuels the endometriosis to grow.
January and February of 2016 were spent in menopause for me. To prevent my cysts from getting any bigger, I was put on Depot Lupron medication that chemically told my brain to shut down my reproductive cycles. I was freezing cold all the time as a result, with the occasional hot flash, and a big dose of moodiness. When March came, I got to switch to birth control pills to start getting ready for my IVF cycle. Finally! When I did my baseline ultrasound the week I started IVF medications, I still had little cysts, but they were small enough now we could work around them. Then came the shots.