When College Station resident, Kristi Sikes, and her husband got married, they dreamed that they would be able to become parents.
But after nine years of trying to get pregnant naturally, all they had was frustration and heartbreak.
“Infertility is a very stressful situation, primarily because it’s unplanned,” said gynecologist Sheila H. Bonds, MD, Scott & White-College Station Clinic. “You think that you’re going to get pregnant easily like most people you know. Suddenly you feel like you no longer have the control.”
The Sikes aren’t alone in their struggle to get pregnant. More than 2 million married women in the U.S. (ages 15-44) are considered infertile, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“Infertility is the absence of pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected intercourse for a woman who is 34-years-old or younger,” Dr. Bonds said. “A woman 35 years and older is considered infertile if she has been trying for six months.”
Causes and Diagnosis
There are many causes of infertility, but the gynecologist said the most common issues are problems with ovulation, blockages of the fallopian tubes, other structural abnormalities of the uterus or cervix or problems regarding sperm count or sperm motility.
To diagnose infertility, the couple in question must undergo three different tests.
Ovulation Check Doctors check to see if the woman is ovulating. Usually this can be determined by the pattern of the woman’s menstrual cycle, but sometimes blood tests are necessary to confirm ovulation.
Working Anatomy The woman’s reproductive structures are examined to make sure everything is in working order—no problems with the uterus or fallopian tubes. If there’s no history of a sexually transmitted infection, there’s a good chance that the tubes are healthy. But if necessary, an HSG (a special X-ray) can be done to check the openness of the tubes.
Semen Analysis The man in question gives a sample for an analysis of his sperm. This sample can be collected in the privacy of his own home and brought to the lab.
“You think that you’re going to get pregnant easily like most people you know. Suddenly you feel like you no longer have the control.”
“The treatment of course depends on the reason for infertility,” Dr. Bonds said. “For example, if the woman is not ovulating, then we can use medication to get the woman ovulating.”
Structural problems can sometimes be corrected with surgery, but if the problems are related to the husband’s sperm, then intrauterine insemination like In Vitro Fertilization or IVF might be in order.
The procedure that places up to four embryos inside the potential mother’s uterus, was finally what worked for Mrs. Sikes, whose fallopian tubes were found to be blocked.
“Dr. Bonds told me that IVF was made for people like me; that I was the perfect candidate,” Mrs. Sikes said.
Waiting and Hoping
So, in the fall of 2010, the school counselor underwent IVF and waited for the results.
“It’s about two weeks that you wait and then you do another blood test to find out [if you’re pregnant],” she said. “And that was very stressful—the waiting.”
After finding out that the procedure had been successful, Mrs. Sikes and her husband traveled to Temple to see Thomas J. Wincek, MD, PhD, the chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and the doctor who performed the procedure, for an ultrasound.
“I couldn’t see the screen very well,” Mrs. Sikes said. “[Dr. Wincek] said, oh no. And I said, oh no, what’s wrong? And my husband just started laughing and said, I see two! Then Dr. Wincek said, yep, there’s two.”
“We joked with [Dr. Wincek] because I’m a big bargain shopper,” she said. “So, we said, oh, we got a two-for-one deal.”
Now, eight weeks old, the babies—Nathaniel David and Mackenzie Kaye—are thriving and have changed the Sikes’ lives forever.
“Your life changes totally,” the mother of two said. “For so long we had hoped to get pregnant that we hadn’t given much thought to the actuality of living day-to-day. It’s been quite a ride.”
Scott & White’s Success Rate
And the Sikes twins aren’t Scott & White’s only success story. Out of 114 IVF cycles performed on women younger than 35, 48 pregnancies were produced.
If you are dealing with infertility, Mrs. Sikes suggests talking to your doctor and getting a referral to a specialist.
For more information about the infertility treatments and services available at Scott & White, visit our infertility page.
Are you dealing with infertility? How have you dealt with disappointment and what keeps you going?