I took a random poll of a few of my TTC friends, mainly because I wanted to confirm something that seemed to be a reoccurrence, and I was amazed to find out that 85% of them, 85%, had been pregnant before, but at times they were not yet ready.
“I used to be the Postinor girl!” one of my friends, Amanda*, said. “I would pop the pill like I was taking Panadol. My boyfriend hated condoms, and rather than insist, silly me decided the best thing was to have a steady supply of Postinor, a very common morning-after pill. A couple of times it failed, and I had to have abortions, but it still remained our contraceptive of choice.”
Amanda and her boyfriend didn’t last long after graduation, and a few years later, she met Frank*, and they married. This is their 7th year of marriage, and they are still TTC. Frank’s sperm count and quality are textbook perfect, but Amanda’s case is somewhat peculiar. Even though her tubes, ovaries and uterus are in good condition, she has shown all the markers of a hormonal disorder…but her test results show otherwise. Her FSH and AMH are good, progesterone is good, prolactin isn’t high…every hormone that could typically cause a problem is in very good range. But her periods are so irregular, she’s lucky if she gets it twice a year.
“Even though no doctor has confirmed this, and I have found no research to back this up, I suspect it’s all that Postinor I took! That thing messed with my system, and I am almost certain it is the reason behind this delay!” she insists.
I wouldn’t doubt her. I also have been trying to investigate the correlation between this Postinor and infertility. Though not as bad as her, I also had my Postinor moments back in the day, and when I was TTC, I often wondered if it could be a factor in my infertility. I haven’t been able to prove any correlation, but it is still something I am researching.
“Folarin* and I were the most fertile people on the face of the earth!” Funlola* remarked. “Every time we had sex, I was almost guaranteed to get pregnant! We didn’t start dating until our final year in University, but in that year alone, I had 5 terminations!” Folarin, like Amanda’s boyfriend, also hated condoms, and insisted on the withdrawal method. The few times Funlola was able to convince him to wear a condom, midway through the act, when she was too carried away to notice, he would rip it off, and continue. But his withdrawal method was obviously not working, given the number of times she conceived.
In the years after their graduation, she got on birth control, and it appeared like they had gotten a hang of their contraception wahala. They got married, and even continued with the contraception for the first 2 years, as she was so sure she was one of those who would conceive on her wedding night, given her previous super-fertility. Eventually, she got off the pill, and when she didn’t conceive after the first year, she thought it was the hormonal effects of the pill still lingering in her system. But now, 5 years after their wedding, and 3 years TTC, nothing has happened. But their case is not quite as unexplained as Amanda’s and Frank’s. Funlola’s tubes are blocked…both of them.
At some point in time, she’d developed PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), which had compromised her tubes. She has lamented and wondered if it could have been because of the numerous abortions. It may have been. It could also have been a sexually transmitted disease, especially if Folarin hadn’t been completely monogamous at the time. So many things could have caused the PID, but only one outcome has prevailed. The loss of her tubes.
Loretta’s case wasn’t even like Amanda’s or Funlola’s. She was a virgin until her 3rd year in University, when her longtime boyfriend pressured her into having sex with him, threatening her with a breakup if she didn’t. Well, she did. And she got pregnant. She told me how she tearfully agreed to an abortion, and how she could not sleep for months after. The same boyfriend she thought she loved too much to lose if she didn’t agree to his demands for sex, was so repulsive to her afterwards, she could barely stand the sight of him.
So, she broke up with him, and re-dedicated herself to God. And she remained celibate until she married Obinna, at the age of 29.
“Even before I got married, I knew something was going wrong with my body,” she told me. “I ballooned from a UK size 8 to a 16. My periods became irregular. My body just suddenly seemed alien to me!”
Hers turned out to be a case of PCOS, one she is still battling 4 years into her marriage. And hers is not the only PCOS case I know, where the women in question were previously able to conceive easily, until the condition worsened. Though puzzling, it is actually explainable. PCOS is a hormonal condition, and for some women, at the onset, the hormonal imbalance isn’t enough to prevent ovulation, or a pregnancy from occurring. It might be hard to sustain this pregnancy, especially if the progesterone is low, but in some cases, they even go ahead to carry these pregnancies to term. But like a wave, with crests and troughs, sometimes the hormonal imbalance will rise to the extent that it causes conception, and even ovulation, to be impossible feats.
Some of these women, especially those who had terminations, often wonder if they are being punished for their sins. As much as I abhor abortions, I don’t think God will be so cruel that He would punish one with the grave lifetime sentence of infertility, especially if there is genuine remorse and a firm purpose of amendment. No…but what you might suffer could be the aftermath of these choices. If you catch an infection from the procedure(s), or from unprotected sex, blocked tubes, or a damaged uterus are some of the repercussions you could encounter. If you abuse over-the-counter morning-after pills, which work by actually acting as a poison in the system so that no conception can take place, though not proven, I am of the belief that this could also have long-term effects.
But whether self-inflicted, or out of one’s control (as with hormonal issues), looking back is never the answer. Yes, you got pregnant before, and yes, you regret some of the things you did…but you just have to move forward. Looking back won’t help to conceive. What you need to do is get on a treatment plan with your doctor. Amanda and Funlola are currently preparing for IVF cycles, and Loretta is trying to treat the fibroid mass she recently discovered, before she commences a treatment plan of her own.
My prayer for the 3 of them, and every TTC woman, whether or not you have conceived in the past or not, is that their efforts are rewarded, and they get to experience the joys of motherhood soon.
Baby dust to all!