Just the other day, someone asked how she would know the current state of her fertility as she is now in her early 30s. The first answer that came to my mind was, the best way to know was being able to get pregnant, and carrying a baby to term.
And when I answered, that was the first answer I gave but added that some hormonal tests could also be done, to determine egg reserve and quality, and also if ovulation takes place or not.
It was while ruminating over these tests and their reliability at predicting how long a woman could wait before getting pregnant, that I recalled the experience of Shalewa, an older family friend. No, let me make that an honorary older sister. She lives in the US with her family and she has officially usurped my position as the first child of my mom; she’s our “first born” now.
Almost six years back, long before she came home to marry her handsome beau, she called my Mom, late one night, to tell her that she got some bad news from her visit to the doctor. She explained that, her doctor had carried out some tests, and advised her to have a baby as soon as possible, or, better still, freeze her eggs, as her ovarian reserve was depleting fast. My Mom struggled to understand what egg freezing and ovarian reserve were and, truth be told, so did I. We just couldn’t fathom it!
Well, at that stage in her life, she was not in a relationship, had no prospective beau, so, how was she going to have a baby? Back then, she was in her early 30s, and her priority back then was to get a man for herself. So the doctor’s verdict threw a spanner in her plans. Now, she was not just looking for a man, but one who would want children immediately.
To cover her bases, she agreed to do the egg freezing, and entered into the world of needles, vials, mixing medication, and timed injections. When she sent a picture of all the drugs she was on, my Mom was overwhelmed, to day the least, and wondered if she had been right to encourage her to try the procedure in the first place. Worst was the fact that she had to inject herself.
Fast forward to a couple of years later, she met the One, and they came to Nigeria to get married. Both wanted kids, so they started trying right away. Within the space of three years of marriage, they have had two boys and she has had no reason to think of touching her frozen eggs. She got pregnant naturally both times. Sometimes, she feels like she wasted money on the process. Now that I have a better understanding of fertility issues, I can better understand why her doctor had suggested the approach he had. He had just been trying to protect her interests.
On the other hand is Stella, a woman in her late 30s, who finally became a mom through the eggs she had frozen when she was 30 years old. In her family, three generations of women had undergone premature menopause, so she was being proactive by choosing to go the egg-freezing route, in the possible event that she had no more eggs when Mr. Right came along.
For Stella, she had no idea of the tests required, until she spoke about the premature menopause that had afflicted three generations of women in her family to her Gynaecologist, at her annual medical checkup. The doctor suggested running various tests to ascertain her fertility, and they unfortunately confirmed her fear.,Her eggs were diminishing at a faster rate than expected for her age.
Instead of waiting or seeking for Mr. Right, she harvested her eggs and got a really nice number of 17. When she finally got married at 37 years of age, and a baby did not come before her 38th birthday, she went to see her doctor. It was confirmed that, although she still had some eggs, her egg quality had dropped. It was time to bring out her frozen arsenal!
She went through IVF, transferring four fertilized embryos, and one implanted. Today, she is the mother of a beautiful baby girl.
Fertility tests are different; ranging from tests to check for infection (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, PID, which is known to block fallopian tubes), hormonal blood tests, to make sure all hormones are in balance and to ascertain if one is ovulating, This is done by measuring progesterone in a blood sample taken seven days before your period is due. The big one is the blood test done during your menstrual period to check for hormonal imbalances –measurement of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone, LH (luteinising hormone) and oestradiol. This test can also identify possible early menopause as a cause of subfertility. Other tests include thorough medical examinations to check for fibroids and/or polyps, and other structural problems which could be causing obstructions.
In the end, as accurate as these tests could be, before a woman’s fertility can be accurately determined, the old tried and true method of being able to get pregnant still remains the best indicator!
Baby dust for the journey!
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