Fertility Issues and Lesbian Conception

Clomid and Lesbian Conception

By Kate

When first embarking on our journey to conception, my partner of 10 years and I spent many hours searching the Internet and reading books about the process. Although it was helpful to learn about the basics, none of that research prepared us for this difficult journey. We have found the best sources of support and information are our friends who have been through the process. Our friends all have different experiences with conception. The problem is that lesbians trying to conceive are different from straight people, but no one lesbian’s experience will be like another’s. This may be why the medical field does not have a more cohesive approach to lesbian conception. I would like to share my experiences and recommendations for those who are just beginning the research-stage of this journey.

Discovering Fertility Issues

The first five months of trying to conceive consisted of an initial visit to my regular OBGYN to tell her of our intentions, developing a plan, and five unsuccessful un-medicated inseminations. During these five months, I used a digital monitor to tell me when I was ovulating and insemination timing was based on that. We used frozen donor sperm from the local sperm bank and I was inseminated by a nurse practitioner at my OBGYN office. Our nurse practitioner did not seem at all concerned that we were not successful after five tries and encouraged us to try for at least a year before seeing a specialist. This just seemed odd to us, so we decided to see a specialist anyway.

In 3 months with our specialist, we have found out that I was not ovulating, even with a regular period, and that Clomid is effective in helping me to ovulate. I have had a number of blood tests and today, an HSG test to confirm that my “plumbing,” as my doctor calls it, is in good shape. This is all great news, but I am not pregnant yet after two medicated attempts. My doctor is confident that it will happen soon and wants us to continue with medicated IUIs for a couple more cycles before discussing in-vitro fertilization.

To Test or Not to Test?

If we could start over again, I’d begin by calling the specialist right away for testing. This may be controversial, however, I think it makes logical sense to make sure you are actually able to conceive before having a milliliter of $500 sperm shot into you and paying a nurse practitioner $120 for the pleasure of doing so. For some it may be worth a few tries without the testing, but I would much rather have paid a little extra up front to be sure the sperm had a chance of meeting an egg. We quite literally threw away $2500. We could have stayed home and had sex with each other and had the same chance of getting pregnant in those five months. Aside from the financial drain, five months of hoping and then being let down is quite emotionally draining. This is where I believe doctors and clinics need to improve. If sperm were free and enjoyable to obtain, I would have no problem with trying for a little while before seeing a specialist. However , casually trying to conceive with expensive donor sperm without knowing your health may not be the best first step financially or emotionally.

How It Feels to Use Clomid and Side Effects of HCG Trigger Shot

We definitely continue to ride the rollercoaster, but can’t help but feel optimistic about our chances at this point. I am now on Clomid, which helps me produce multiple mature eggs (detected by regular ultrasounds) and I “trigger” to induce ovulation before the insemination. I have not had any noticeable side effects from Clomid. However, I have come to dread the HCG trigger shot, which helps to precisely time ovulation so that the egg and sperm will likely be there at the same time. Aside from the cramping and headaches, it causes me to feel extremely bloated and also causes temporary weight gain. For two weeks after the trigger, my weight goes up 8-10 pounds. It does go back down eventually, but squeezing into a pair of dress pants with an extra 8-10 pounds is not good for the self-esteem. I am a professor and spend three hours at a time standing in front of college kids, who at some point, based on boredom or lack of endurance, will check me out from head to toe. Feeling fat is just not conducive to my profession, which is why one of the best things about getting pregnant will be not having to do the trigger anymore. Even though I have side effects, the trigger is the most helpful part of this whole process. Frozen donor sperm do not live very long, so the timing is crucial.

Playing the Waiting Game

After mentally getting past the first five wasted months, we are very happy and excited about our chances. We live in Ohio, in a liberal city, that by all accounts appears to be very accepting of same-sex conception. Our OBGYN, reproductive specialist, and the sperm bank all appear to treat us as they do the other patients. We have many gay friends who have children in the local suburban school districts who all report very positive experiences with teachers and with straight parents. Although we would love to get off this rollercoaster as soon as possible, we are so glad that if we have ride it, at least we have a lot of support. Next up, medicated try #3.

Kate and her partner live in Ohio, where Kate is a university professor. She blogs about her journey to lesbian conception at Emotional Journey TTC, where she hopes to help others who encounter similar issues on the way to lesbian motherhood.

3 Comments

  1. Shakira says:

    Hi Kate! Thank you for having the courage to blog about your experience. I am TTC again using ICI with frozen donor sperm. I would agree it is extremely expensive. Are there no gay men who would love to have kids and want to do donate fresh sperm so our chances increase? I too am from Ohio, yet I do not live in such a liberal place. Based on the bank and description of your city I would guess you are close to C-Bus. I have had blood levels tested with the exception of my progesterone level at day 23. I am on a 30 day cycle and have been for the last four months. I went to the doc yesterday just to have someone who specializes in hormone levels check out my lab work. He said everything looks good. He wrote me a script for Prometrium and said insert one capsule vaginally after you inseminate and continue then take a pregnancy test on day 30. If you are pregnant come in and we will test your progesterone levels. I have been doing some research and talked with a pharmacist. I am hesitant to take the Promethium b/c my body rejects unnatural and non-organic products. I have worked very hard to cleanse my body and keep it healthy, preparing for a fertile ground to conceive. I wondered if you had experienced Prometrium and what you had to say about it. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    Reply
  2. tessa says:

    i just stumbled on this while trying to find encouragement. i’m on my 5th iui cycle. i’m only trying 6 times. i’m 37, and my hormone levels are off. getting older won’t give me any higher probability of success. i’ve cut my exercise,modified my diet, am keeping my heart rate down, taking letrozole & this month had my 1st hcg shot.
    i knew this would be hard, but i had no idea just how hard. i cry so much, and feel guilty that my wife has to put up with me, but if i keep it together all day while i’m at work, i’m invariably going to lose it at home. i’m tired and crabby, and doubting whether this can possibly work out for us.
    it helps me to hear about others’ journeys. thank you for your writing!

    Reply
  3. Lee Ann says:

    It gives me hope reading others stories; however, it also makes me nervous. I have known a few lesbian couples in my area that have conceived within the first two months of trying at home with an individual who donated sperm. My wife and I started trying 3 years ago and used fresh sperm from a known donor. We started with at home insemination and each month that passed and every negative pregnancy test caused much agony. I could not help but feel pain whenever one of my siblings or my wife’s siblings announced that they were pregnant. It just seems that with every try it slowly drifts away. Now I am only 27 years old and most people respond with “you are so young” or “you have plenty of time.” However, what people don’t know is that my mother went through menopause at age 31, I am about to turn 28. Everyday that passes, I become more anxious. However, we have went to a few fertility doctors and found one willing to help us and provide us with the best options for us. I am hoping that we can get pregnant quickly, but it is always a concern. This is the first month we are trying IUI with Injectable fertility drugs. I was aware that it would cost money and time, I guess I was just not aware of how much time. It would be so nice to be able to conceive naturally, in your own home, but I am staying optimistic. I am very hopeful and thankfully I have a wonderful wife who is always urging me to stay positive. She is definitely my rock. Good luck to everyone trying to conceive.

    Reply

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