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My blood silently boiled back towards the end of 2019, when I consulted on a 43-year-old woman with a BMI of 48 who smoked, did drugs, had uncontrolled diabetes… and was 32 weeks gestation. How did she get pregnant and I can’t?!
“I just don’t understand why so many of you young women are having trouble getting pregnant! My friends and I, none of us had difficulty having kids. I just don’t understand it,” is what my mother said as I was talking to her after my third embryo transfer. The first one didn’t take at all, despite the 80% chance of success I was quoted by our previous fertility doctor, a guy who had helped several people I know get pregnant. “It has to work, I thought. I went in for more testing, and my medication regimen was adjusted accordingly. With the second transfer, I got a faint second line on the home pregnancy test, which was encouraging at first, any second line, no matter how faint means that something is trying to grow. The line faded over the next couple days, and by the time I went to have my beta hCG blood work drawn, it came back as zero; I had had a chemical pregnancy. The embryo implants but fails to progress and spontaneously aborts. That one hit me real hard. Seeing those two lines disappear caused a sadness I was not expecting. Mustangman and I cried over that loss. I took a break from all the stress and hormone injections for a couple of months, and in the meantime joined an IVF support group on Facebook for women in Ohio. Boy, did I learn a lot! Besides being introduced to the clinic I just switched to, I found hundreds of women struggling to get pregnant. Like buying a new car, suddenly you start noticing all the other people that drive the same car. I began hearing about fertility struggles from the nurses that take care of my patients. It seemed that the list of couples I knew having difficulty with getting pregnant was growing exponentially. I thought about my own friends, many requiring assistance with medication or procedures in order to conceive. And while infertility is as old as the Bible, my mother’s query rang in my ears: why are so many young women having trouble?