I’ve never met a pill I didn’t like. They help me sleep, calm me down, make the outdoors bearable, and they’re supposed to make me more fertile too. These new pills though – little blue ovals of estrogen – these suppositories (you know, the fun kind) are different. My too-little too-late estrogen party was started on trigger day when a nurse mentioned (after I asked, mind you) that my lining was “a little thin”, which according to everything else I’ve read is actually a lotta thin. I should’ve swatted away the trigger shot at that declaration and exclaimed, “Whattaya mean thin?! How are we just now discussing this?!” but I’m shooting for normalcy at this office so I stayed silent. I was given very little instruction for what are affectionately dubbed the ‘smurf cooch pills’, beyond being told “if it feels weird, you’re doing it right” (if I had a dollar for every time….) and as far as I’m concerned, I’m the first of my kind. Estrogen for a full two weeks – no progesterone, no monitoring, a plethora of uncertainty. Why did I feel like I was patient zero for the TWW estrogen test? How come I’ve never heard of this being used on it’s own? It’s like a riddle ever trying to get direct information from a doctor’s office though, and I’m still left with my mind running mad – If you have to medicate me, then you must answer these questions three:
- This is a recurring problem, yes? So what you’re saying is…for over a year I’ve been waltzing around thinking ‘this could be our month!’ and my lining was like ‘yeah, girl, it’s actually never going to be your month, but thanks for trying!’ There seems to be a major flaw in the infertility system where RE’s don’t check out what your bod is capable of doing when it’s not flooded with synthetic hormones. How’s that lining looking on a natural Day 3, 12, 16, 24? Is there a confirmed ovulation in there? Did anything happen to make the doctor go, “Well, shit, that explains it”? I’m no doctor, medically speaking, but this seems like the time to determine if estrogen, progesterone, or lost-cause birth control is needed – and when it’s needed. Maybe they’re forcing my uterus to get to work too early with these IUIs and turns out with a little bit of patience, and a couple more days, she’d start kicking it into gear.
- And uh, how we gonna confirm this is doing it’s thang? Progesterone – bloodwork. Clomid – ultrasounds. Estrogen – blind faith. The assumption is that if you get pregnant, it worked! But if you didn’t? Well, let’s try the same concoction next cycle! What if the excess estrogen suffocates my progesterone (thanks, Google) and even with a thick, pillow-soft lining, I’m unable to implant? Sure, at one point some poor woman was overly monitored to make sure that the 2mg/4mg/6mg did what it was supposed to, but that doesn’t mean that I want to be medicated and forgotten. Assuming that a medication works on a patient is the same as adopting the mindset that infertility is one-size-fits-all, and let me tell you – my uterus isn’t the same as a pair of slipper socks. I’ve seen how they can crank women in and out of the ultrasound rooms in the morning – doesn’t seem like a quick double check would hurt.
- Can we talk about my future? My cyst was a cautionary tale of fertility meds. When you’re first given a new cocktail of fertility drugs, long-term side effects seem as realistic as student loans before you even start college: “Sure, I’ll totally be able to handle ovarian cancer in four years! I bet that won’t take a horrible toll on me at all!” Let’s be clear: everything gives you cancer. Dye your hair? Cancer. Use a cell phone? Cancer. Stand too close to the microwave when you’re cooking up hot pockets? You’re probably already dead. So when I was searching the best way to use these little suckers, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I stumbled upon a post where a woman oh-so-helpfully declared that taking any form of estrogen increases your chances for ovarian and cervical cancer. Thank you for that insightful bit of knowledge on the pills that I’m forced to take! No need to worry about infertility anymore, because I’m going to have a long and painful death in a matter of years anyway! Huzzah! And let’s not forget how every single bottle of joy gives you the message to not take if you are, or planning to be, pregnant, so there’s the added bonus of worrying about a fetus that doesn’t yet exist.
I’m happy to act as my own personal lab rat, but only if we’re able to check the appropriate boxes along the way (yes – lining thickened, yes – progesterone still rose to an acceptable level, yes – I’m still incredibly unexplainably infertile on all accounts). I just don’t see anything wrong with being overly thorough when it comes to maintaining the health of uteri. Past-Me was left out, Current-Me is ignored, and Future-Me…well, she’s in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.