One of the basic questions that every woman may want to ask is whether she is fertile or not. It’s a normal question that many women have when trying to conceive. This is because one in four couples struggle with infertility, or the inability to get pregnant despite having regular unprotected sex.
A couple is infertile if they have unsuccessfully tried to conceive for one year (or six months if the woman is over 35 years old).
Five years ago, Taiwo, 41, and Folake, 40, were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, a common diagnosis for many young and old couples alike who suffer from infertility.
Infertility is often silent, but sometimes, your body gives signs you can’t get pregnant. It’s important to note that most infertile couples are able to conceive with conventional treatment, so even if you have these signs of infertility in women, there’s a chance you’ll get pregnant one day.
Taiwo and Folake knew all this but it was still a surprise diagnosis. They were aware that for a woman, not having a period is a major issue. No period suggests that a woman is not ovulating and has little chance to conceive without assistance.
They had learned that early intervention with medications to stimulate ovulation is advised. But Folake was having periods, so this wasn’t the source of their infertility.
For instance, they knew that if a woman doesn’t get her period regularly, she may never tell when or if she’s going to ovulate. Cycles that come sporadically are indicative of an underlying disorder related to ovulating, which can make conception challenging.
They also knew that bad sperm parameters such as a low count and poor motility were adverse to conception. But none of all these was their issue.
Left with no choice, they accepted the diagnosis and so began the journey that would take them on a series of emotional ups and downs for the next four and a half years.
The couple described the infertility journey as one of the most difficult periods of a man or woman’s life. When they started on their own treatment journey, their orientation to the world of infertility took on a completely new meaning.
Taiwo quickly realised that even though there are different types of couples battling infertility, the problem was more common than anyone probably realised. For instance, there are many husbands that do not want to talk about infertility or be involved in the treatment process. This is essentially because infertility is usually considered embarrassing and humiliating.
It is not a secret that for a man that is undergoing ART such as IVF, he has to provide a semen sample which could be quite an embarrassing exercise and one that usually discourages.
So Taiwo and Folake started their journey into the world of assisted reproductive technologies in earnest. She came to realise that after the first couple of failures, you just become kind of numb and you don’t expect much. Taiwo arranged the planning and coordination of the doctors and medications. He checked things with the doctors who gave directions on what medications they need and when to take them.
The first cycle failed and Folake felt that it was too hard to keep losing pregnancies. Taiwo had recognised that Folake needed him to take over. He knew that one person had to be up and be strong for the both of them while the other person was down.
Both could not be let down at the same time and with the same kind of fears. It took a little while but they found themselves, over the course of all the attempts, picking each other back up.
After five failed IVF cycles using Folake’s eggs, the couple decided to pursue an egg donor treatment. She describes the decision as one of the best decisions they ever made over the course of the infertility journey.
There is no doubt that with age, egg quality gradually and naturally declines. She started fertility treatment three years earlier but it was not until she attended an infertility seminar and saw the statistics up there for successful IVF cycles for her age with her own eggs and the success rates for egg donors that she truly understood.
Folake finally realised that it wasn’t a matter of wanting to use her own gamete with Taiwo’s that was the ultimate. While that would have been nice, the reality of the situation was that she wanted a healthy baby.
The decision to pursue an egg donor paid off for them, in more ways than one. Their final round of IVF treatment with donor eggs was successful. The selection of an egg donor was quite interesting under guidance of a trusted fertility care centre.
The whole process went smoothly, they were able to produce six embryos, three were implanted, and the good news is that they now have a set of healthy triplets as a result.
Folake carried not one, not two, but three beautiful, healthy babies, and she made it look easy. The couple still thinks that what happened was just incredible, especially when they weren’t even sure if Folake could carry a pregnancy to term after many losses.
But they were proved wrong and for that Folake is ever grateful that she got her reward for all of her efforts and sacrifices. She was truly rewarded with her triplets.
by Abayomi Ajayi