Fertility Treatment: The Un-Winnable Game


Sometimes I wonder if the only winning move is not to play.

Today is my 28th birthday. I woke up at 6:00, took a shower, and drove through the warzone that the stretch of I-75 between Bruce B Downs and Fowler has become since the beginning of the Interstate Widening Project from Hell. I walked into the office ten minutes late for my 7:45 transvaginal ultrasound. Not a great way to start my special day.


But it got better. Much, much better. Sortof.

My ultrasound tech was a lot quieter than she normally is. I tried to attribute her silence to the fact that we’re both awake at too-goddamned-early o’clock, but those voices in the back of my head started whispering to me. “What if something is wrong?” “What if the eggs aren’t developed?” “What if there aren’t any eggs to begin with?!” I tried to ignore it, but after another five minutes of probing and picture-taking, I couldn’t help myself. The ultrasound was taking much longer than usual and my chatty ultrasound tech was dead silent.

“What’s going on? Is everything okay in there?” I asked.
“I have to take a few more pictures, then we’ll talk about it.”

I immediately went on red alert. I’ve had cervical cancer. I knew I was at a high risk of developing ovarian cancer as well. Could they see cancer through an ultrasound probe?! My heart started slamming in my chest. The tech finished up and left the room without any parting words. She wouldn’t even look at me. She returned with the head technician and turned the lights on. Both of them hovered over my chart in the corner of the room and whispered things to one another. Finally, the head technician (who I’m also very familiar with) turned around and said, “We have a problem.”

I wanted to scream at her. Instead, I swallowed hard and enjoyed one of those brief moments of self-hatred that I get when I’m about to ask a question I know I don’t want the answer to. “What is it?” I croaked, feeling a knot form in my chest.

“You have six follicles all between 18-22 mm. Your ovaries look like an IVF patient’s. I have never seen this response to Letrozole. We have to talk to Dr. Goodman. We won’t let patients with more than four eggs trigger ovulation. It’s too dangerous.”

I just stared at her, stunned. The issue keeping me from getting pregnant has always been that I have problems producing eggs. Now the problem is that I produce too many and can’t trigger or I’ll be the next Octomom. The reason my ultrasound took so long is that my tech had to measure each one of those eggs.

I’m still awaiting a call from my doctor, but while I’m doing so, I’ve been looking up Letrozole. This comes directly from the Letrozole Wikipedia entry:

Letrozole has been used for ovarian stimulation by fertility doctors since 2001 because it has fewer side-effects than clomiphene (Clomid) and less chance of multiple gestation.

 Um, can I challenge that? On a 60-90 day Clomid cycle, I was fortunate to produce one misshapen, underdeveloped, pitiful egg. My first fourteen day cycle with Letrozole, I made SIX 18-26mm eggs, catapulting me into a very scary upper-number multiples risk situation. See what I mean? Even when you win, you lose, lol.

This has to be some kind of fluke, but I like my odds of conceiving this month. Even if the doctor calls and tells me not to trigger and to let the eggs release naturally, I’m still running the risk of multiples, but I’m basically getting six pregnancy attempts in one cycle. Not too shabby for Tina.

So, happy birthday to me, I guess.

Previous articleHow to Become a Mentor
Next articleUnreasonable Compensation: How the Commission-Only System Fails Salons and Professionals
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here