Did you know that Japan is at the forefront of infertility treatments?
Mini-IVF was invented in Japan. (See here)
The Japanese also found away to awaken dormant follicles in women whose ovaries stopped working. (See here)
They are pioneers in the industry. Even all these breakthroughs don’t guarantee a live birth. Every women is different. And what works for one, may not work for another.
In our case, Natural IVF was the best option.
We were young, married, and ready to start a family. I had worried about my fertility since childhood. This was because of my battle with cancer. Before marriage, I warned my husband of the possibility. I checked my hormones at the clinic and they assured me that everything was normal. My husband assured me that kids were great, but he’d be okay if it didn’t happen.
After a couple years of marriage we started trying in earnest. A year passed and nothing. Every month was a BFN. Our first fertility clinic had a female doctor. She could give little reason for our problems. She discovered a fibroid in my uterus and put me on a Chinese herbal treatment.
That didn’t help.
My husband’s company transferred us to the opposite side of Tokyo. Our family plans paused for a few months while we adjusted to our new area which had superior fertility clinics. The next clinic we tried had a perpetually packed lobby. It was rated highly with good results and reviews. They didn’t want to use drugs and treatments on me.
Most of the time I didn’t ovulate. My follicles turned into cysts. I had a problem with ovulation and egg quality even though my FSH was normal. My tubes weren’t blocked. They could give no reason.
That was the Pee-in-the-cup clinic. When I came around ovulation I had to pee in a cub and wait for the results. They tried clomid on me to disastrous results. They checked my AMH and discovered it was critically low for my age. The news was devastating.
We transitioned to a new clinic after deciding the old one wasn’t working. We also wanted one to treat the fibroid that we worried was the reason I could not get pregnant. In those days I was pretty sure I’d never get pregnant. I had never been before. Something seemed very, very wrong and no one knew why.
The new doctor had a quirky sense of humor, unique in the IVF industry. I was asked to test my basal body temperature every day and keep track. My temperature hardly shifted. I still rarely ovulated at this time even though my FSH ranged between 6-10. The highest back then was 11.
Most of the time I failed to ovulate and developed a cyst. They decided I had very poor egg quality. My AMH continued its decline.
At this clinic he performed an MRI and gave a devastating prognosis: advanced adenomyosis.
I sat in stone silence as he went over the picture and explained that my uterus was 70% compromised. I would likely become pregnant. There was no cure. He could see calcium deposits in it.
I held on through the train ride back, but fell apart in the entryway of my home as my husband desperately comforted me. We returned together that weekend so the doctor could explain in Japanese.
I changed my eating habits in a desperate attempt to improve the outcome.
We tried chemical IVF for the first time. My FSH was 6 that month. Despite the daily injections, I only grew three follicles around 10 mm and the E2 was 350 total for all of them. The cycle was canceled. It cost $4000 for a failed cycle.
We decided never again.
The Summer That Changed Everything
Our decision on IVF shifted after another MRI showed my adenomyosis had greatly improved. The calcium deposits had completely disappeared. We became hopeful and decided one more and that would be the last.
There were signs of an excellent cycle, yet the clinic was closing for the month. The doctor advised skipping this cycle even though they told us last week we could go ahead. I called my husband. We’d had enough and switched to a new clinic.
Leaving your infertility clinic is a big pain. All your results and data is there. It’s a financial burden to pack up and leave. We did it anyway.
At the new clinic they saw a follicle on the first day and suggested Natural IVF. I had never heard of this before. No hormones. No chemicals. They simply take the follicle out.
On my first day I was put on a nasal spray to mature the follicle. The next day they extracted a Grade 1 embryo. Three days later they put it back. I don’t remember much about the two week wait. I really didn’t think much about it. I had no expectation of it working given the state of my uterus.
I was stunned when the doctor informed, “You’re pregnant.”
I called my husband and cried with joy. Joy is what we had for the next sixteen weeks.
What we didn’t know is the premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, advanced adenomyosis, and poor egg quality were not the only problems I had. I had an incompetent cervix. One that opened without my knowledge and let in an infection.
I went into early labor and our son died within five minutes. A couple days later the infection almost took away my uterus entirely. We were lucky it was caught after my husband insist the doctor check again. The antibiotics stopped the infection and I was eventually allowed to go home to mourn.
Natural IVF is the only thing that ever worked for us. We continue it now, hoping for another miracle. Sadly, my eggs remain in bad quality. We have frozen the few we took out by Natural IVF that fertilized and grew.
Right now our main hope it the only blastocyst we got, a little Grade 1 that grew into a Grade 3 Blastocyst. My women in Japan prefer natural IVF over chemical. I’m one of them because it worked for me.
Every women is different and what worked for one may not work for another. I hope my experience can help others. Here is a link to an article on Natural IVF for those who are interested.