Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clearing the air about PCOS and Infertility.

The other day, HelloGiggles posted an essay of mine... "What No One Told Me About Taking a Fertility Test."

You may have read it...in fact, that might be the reason you found my blog in the first place. In that case, hello!

I've received a TON of feedback from readers around the world, and it tends to fall into two categories: people thanking me for starting the conversation about this important (and sometimes taboo) topic, and people who are disappointed that my article didn't represent PCOS and/or infertility correctly.

Here's the thing: This essay was based on my personal experience only. I only wrote about what I had been told by medical professionals, but as it turns out, I had some misinformation.  And perpetuating misinformation, even in a situation such as this, can be damaging.  Because of this, I'd like to take a minute and clear up some key points:

  • Fertility cannot be truly determined based on one blood test.  Many women take hundreds of tests over the course of years.  My experience is not typical of your average woman who is faced with possible infertility. And, just because this one test came back with normal levels, it doesn't mean I won't have issues further down the line. There are probably a million different factors that influence fertility--the AMH test only tests for ovarian reserve. If you notice, I don't use definitive language in my essay: I will "presumably" be able to conceive.
  • But wait, the AMH test can show high levels in someone with PCOS. Yes. But the point isn't that I have a high amount of eggs--the point is I have a normal amount of eggs. This is good news.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) does not always equal trouble with fertility, as you can read here. I was told by multiple doctors that because I 'most likely' had PCOS and that I would 'most likely' not be able to have children. A friend of mine was told the same thing. I had no idea (until HelloGiggles readers came forward) that this wasn't always true.
  • Why weren't the answers doctors gave me more definitive? I went to a small clinic that will remain unnamed. They specialized in mostly pap smears, STD testing, and birth control. They were not equipped to deal with fertility issues. They told me I could go to a different doctor for a more definitive test, but they said it wouldn't make much of a difference because they would simply put me on birth control for my PCOS--which is what the clinic was already doing. At the time, the AMH test did not exist.
  • Your doctor meant you "wouldn't be able to get pregnant on your own." Stop making your doctor out to be an idiot. If that is what my doctor--my multiple doctors--had meant, that is what they should have said. How am I supposed to infer their meaning? Also, as I mentioned, this was over seven years ago. Maybe less was known about PCOS then, which is why they told me that? I'm not making anyone out to be anything--I'm simply relaying MY experience of what happened to YOU, the reader. If you don't like it, I apologize, but it is sincere.

For more information about PCOS, check out this fact sheet at womenshealth.gov.
For more information about infertility, infertility treatments, and testing, check out this page at MedlinePlus.
For more information about AMH testing, which is the specific test I had done, check out this article over at advancedfertility.com.
And for information on In Vitro Fertilization, check out this page at americanpregnancy.org.

Readers, thank you for challenging me on this important topic and giving me a chance to clear the air.  Other readers have expressed interest in reading more stories like this, and I hope that if you have a story about infertility to share, that you won't hesitate to submit it.

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