Infertility Myth: A doctor can make you pregnant.
I am participating in Resolve’s Bust a Myth Challenge during National Infertility Awareness Week. I debated about which myth to bust…since there are so many! And I decided to talk about the issue I come across most often. Many people know little or nothing about fertility treatments, specifically IVF. And they think that a doctor is trying to play God and can make a woman get pregnant. After multiple rounds of clomid, IUI and IVF I can assure you this could not be farther from the truth! Doctors try to help. But in the end it’s all in God’s hands, no matter what.
I’ve heard IVF described as “taking the easy way” or “a sure thing.” Let’s see. What is easy about month after month of heart break and disappointment? What is easy about pills, injections, treatments, constant doctor appointments, drug side effects, weight gain and pain? What is easy about spending tens of thousands of dollars just to conceive a child? Nothing! I can say that going through infertility and treatments is one of the hardest things a person can do. And the hardest part…more often than not the treatments don’t even work. Sadly for some they never work. As much as we would like success every time it is all a guessing game. And a doctor can not make you get pregnant. Only God can do that.
Let’s explore a couple different fertility treatments…and how a baby is actually conceived.
The first attempt for most people is clomid. It’s just a pill you take for a few days to help a woman ovulate/produce a mature egg. And everything else is done the “natural” way. This works for many people. For me it did nothing, except make me feel rotten and emotional. I did not ovulate while taking clomid. So no chance of getting pregnant…doctor or no doctor.
Next for us was IUI (intra-uterine insemination). If the woman needs help with hormones/egg production she takes medication (clomid or injectable drugs). If the woman does not have problems the drugs are not necessary. Then a doctor injects a sample of sperm into the woman’s uterus around the time of ovulation. And nature takes its course. If a sperm fertilizes an egg and the egg implants in the uterus, then the woman gets pregnant. If not, then not. Again, no doctor “makes” anything happen. And as a side note, IUI is often what results in multiples/high order multiples (even though most people think it’s through IVF) because there is so little control. If the woman produces 6 mature eggs, she has the chance to become pregnant with 6 babies. My personal experience with IUI is limited. We tried it once…and found out we had male factor infertility…so the odds of it working were pretty much zero.
Finally we move on to IVF (in-vitro fertilization). IVF is a little more complicated. First the woman takes hormone drugs (mostly injections) to help her produce multiple mature eggs. When the eggs are mature, the doctor removes them from her uterus. Then the sperm and the eggs are put together to see if any of the eggs will become fertilized. Sometimes this is done without intervention. Sometimes a procedure called ICSI is used where one sperm is directly injected into an egg (in the case of poor sperm morphology/shape). Either way the doctor has no control over whether or not an egg is fertilized. It either happens or doesn’t depending on the quality/genetics of the sperm and the egg. If/when one or more eggs are fertilized then they are placed back into the woman’s uterus. It is up to the patient and the doctor how many to put back. Being able to select only one or two gives less chance of high order multiples with IVF than there is with IUI. Any unused fertilized eggs are frozen. And here is where I think the biggest misconception comes in. Yes, a doctor places a fertilized egg into the woman’s uterus (a transfer). But NO, the doctor CAN NOT IMPLANT the fertlized egg. That is physically impossible. As with any other means of getting pregnant, it is in God’s hands. IF the fertilized egg is viable and IF it implants in the uterus, then the woman gets pregnant. A doctor can not control either of those factors. A baby is not conceived until the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus and becomes a viable embryo. I know from experience that even implantation doesn’t mean a pregnancy. We had one IVF transfer that resulted in a chemical pregnancy. The fertilized egg implanted, but it was not viable. So it didn’t really grow. The doctor could not control the viability or know ahead of time if it was viable. That is in God’s hands. Doctors can make predictions about which fertilized eggs “look good.” But it doesn’t mean it is truly viable.
So it all boils down to the fact that we can take drugs to adjust hormone levels, we can make sure the sperm reaches the egg, but we can’t make someone pregnant. Doctors don’t create life. Only God does. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a simple pill or going through multiple procedures. A doctor can only do so much. And then it’s up to God whether or not a sperm and egg will come together viably and implant in a woman’s uterus to create a baby.
A doctor can not make you pregnant. I know that first hand. Here is my infertility journey to prove it. If a doctor could make me pregnant I would never have had to go through all of this.
January 2007 – 1st round of clomid – no ovulation
February 2007 – 2nd round of clomid – no ovulation
March 2007 – 3rd round of clomid/1st IUI – not pregnant, male factor Dx
July 2007 – IVF #1 – OHSS (hyperstimulation, produced over 40 eggs), no fresh transfer, 15 fertilized eggs frozen
August 2007 – FET (frozen embryo transfer) #1 – pregnant, daughter born 4/17/08
October 2009 – FET #2 – not pregnant
November 2009 – IVF #2 – OHSS (produced over 40 eggs), no fresh transfer, 14 fertilized eggs frozen
January 2010 – FET #3 – not pregnant
February 2010 – FET #4 – not pregnant
March 2010 – FET #5 – beta #1 (hcg level) – 2, beta #2 – 5.1, beta #3 – 51, beta #4 – 49…not pregnant, chemical pregnancy
July 2010 – IVF #3 – OHSS (produced over 50 eggs), no fresh transfer, 10 fertilized eggs frozen
August 2010 – FET #6 – pregnant!!! 9/2/10 – beta #1 – 120, 9/8/10 – beta #2 – 1,223, 9/14/10 – beta #3 – 8,220, 1st u/s 9/21/10 – 1 healthy heartbeat: 122bpm!, EDD 5/14/11
I have been on a long journey (that isn’t over yet). And I am so grateful that God has blessed my husband and I with one IVF miracle that just turned 3 and another IVF miracle that we will be meeting in 13 days (or less!). We don’t know what God has in store for the future, but we know it is in His hands…not a doctor’s.
If you would like to know more about infertility please visit the Resolve website.