Everything No One Tells You – The Clomid Monster

Clomid Round 1:

Let me start by saying I don’t like taking medication of any kind. I am not a Tylenol, Advil, Aleve or Aspirin type of girl. I always tried to ‘tough it out.’ My mother had 7 Natural, Non-Epidural births and I thought that if I could muster the strength for small pain over a lifetime, then maybe I could be more like her! (Insert Applause here for Mom)

We picked up our Clomid, Paid the Co-pay and went home to read about taking it.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking clomiphene: Bloating, stomach or pelvic pain

If any of the following side effects occur while taking clomiphene, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible: Blurred vision, decreased or double vision or other vision problems, seeing flashes of light, sensitivity of eyes to light, yellow eyes or skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with clomiphene may not need medical attention.

As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional: Hot flashes, Breast discomfort, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods, mental depression, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, restlessness, tiredness, trouble in sleeping (paraphrased from webmd.com)

So basically, you are a cross between a Tweedledee and Cruella Deville with a few Pops of the Smurfs. I might as well jump off a cliff now.

Fortunately, these side effects do not occur throughout the general public. Unfortunately, you don’t need to have ALL these side effects to have a difficult time with Clomid. The Mood Swings alone will keep you on your toes.

I remember after 72 hours on our first round of Clomid, sobbing uncontrollably at a commercial for hemorrhoid cream. I actually felt bad enough for those suffering from hemorrhoids that I felt the need to cry. Then I felt sorry for myself for feeling sad so I cried even harder. The cycle was vicious and endless.

Ultrasounds occur on Day 3 of your cycle, Day 5 and Day 7 and then anytime after that until they decide you have a large enough follicle to ovulate on your own or induce ovulation.

MONTH 1: Clomid as suggested. Day 9-7 you are to take ovulation tests each evening and call the office when you get a fancy little happy face. Oh yes, a freekin happy face. I can assume why it is a happy face if you are conceiving like a ‘normal’ couple as this ‘happy face’ is the symbol for a good time. For us on the other hand, I took it and got the ‘Pennywise Smile’ while in the bathroom of Chili’s restaurant, at a truck stop, on the side of the highway. An aside: have you ever tried to take a pee test of any kind in a public restroom while squatting over the toilet? Note to future self – ALWAYS travel with mouth wash cups.

So I stood in that bathroom stall for what felt like an hour, but according to ClearBlue was less then 3 minutes, until that stupid happy face appeared. Suddenly the Clomid Monster kicked in and the tears began to fall…quite literally…..all over my shirt and the floor of the public restroom stall. My bottom lip was quivering uncontrollably and my hand, holding the contaminated pee stick was shaking. I remember distinctly, putting my free hand to my mouth in disbelief. I had to remind myself that this was JUST AN OVULATION TEST and I was not pregnant as ‘Clo-ster’ had taken over my emotions again. I gathered my thoughts and cleaned up the tears. I shoved the test into my purse without thinking…Keepsake I guess.

But the next morning (insert voice inflection as to the tune of little bunny foo-foo), my husband and I by 8 am sharp had to visit the Dungeon of Shame in order to give a semen sample for my ‘insemination’ which was schedule for noon, after the sample was tested and recorded. What do those lab techs call themselves? Semen samplers?  Semenators? Seriously, think about this conversation when meeting your partners parents for the first time; “..and what do you so Son?….oh I am a Semen Sampler….”

I digress. Again.

So, when you return to the office for the IUI (intrauterine insemination), they get you gowned up and into stirrups. Whoever is performing the procedure (no, it was never my actual doctor), will come in and review the Semen Analysis, Identity and always ask if you wanted to have the IUI conducted with the confirmed sperm. Awkward! The medical worker always reviewed sperm count, motility, and morphology.

  • Sperm count. This counts the number of sperm present per milliliter (mL) of semen in one ejaculation. Range is 15-200 million. Low range is anything under 39 million)
  • Sperm morphology. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Sperm motility. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that can move forward normally. The number of sperm that show normal forward movement in a certain amount of semen can also be measured. This is called motile density. (WebMD.com)

My Prince was ALWAYS trying to ease my anxiety and celebrated the sperm count revealed at every session. No joke. There were times he quite literally stood up and threw his arms in the air in celebration before then taking a bow. Anxiety was always eased by the laughter.

Stirrups up, catheter through & sample injected.

Then I get angled upside-down on the table and am told to lay still for 10-15 minutes. This is where the ceiling tiles were available to count as well as the number of craters in each of the ceiling tiles…my Prince and I didn’t talk much at this point, but time after time we found ourselves in prayer over something that so many people achieve so spontaneously.

The shame is the hardest part of infertility to overcome. The shame and the guilt. As women we are so proud of what it is our bodies were made to do and to have that purpose stripped from you is heart wrenching. Society makes judgments about those in fertility treatments, many judgments that have a twisted biblical references as to parts of fertility treatments being sinful.

Ignore haters. Taylor Swift had it right. Go figure.

Clomid Cycle 1; Complete. Now we wait 16 days for blood work and hopefully 2 little lines.

Fertility Treatment – Phase One

So, with the HSG gone and done with we waited. Again.

My Prince and I sat at Dr. O’s desk, just waiting for whatever news he had to give us this time. The results were in and he opened with a stinger: As a couple, and after reviewing both your files, I have determined that you have less then a 5% chance of conception without fertility assistance. Your diagnosis, ‘Unexplained Infertility.’

What the crap is ‘unexplained infertility?’ I thought we were here to figure out why we cannot conceive, not so you could tell us what we already figured out! I removed myself from an instinctual daydream in which I jumped over Dr. O’s desk, placed my hands around his neck and shook him violently as I yelled. Yoga breath in……….infertility sucks

He continued, “I suggest starting with a drug called Clomid. This is a very commonly used drug to treat female-related infertility and will help us in verifying that you are ovulating. There is about an 80% success rate in female ovulation with this treatment. We would also use an IUI or Intra-uterine insemination along side this treatment to increase your chances of conception.” He took a breath as he realized my Prince and I were silently staring at him…likely with fire balls coming out of our eyes. “Without treatment, you have less then a 5% chance of getting pregnant. A couple without any fertility issues has about 20% of conception every month and Clomid will give you about 10% chance. We have found that pairing the IUI with the Clomid increases those chances by about 5% more so you would be at about a 15% chance. “Clomid Stats

I didn’t know if I wanted to hear any more. I wanted a 100% chance….a guarantee for a baby. I wanted to go home and forget this every happened, and wake up one day to two little lines and react with ‘oops’ instead of being in awe at a miracle. I wanted simplicity in life. Wanted my ducks in a row with no bumps in the road. I hate being a statistic.

I felt my Prince’s hand squeeze mine a little tighter then before in order to bring me back from my daydream sob-story. It did.

I wanted a baby; no matter how we got there.

We nodded at the Doctor, don’t remember uttering a single word actually. Got our papers, prescriptions and a cute little red folder from the office to keep all of our ‘fertility’ stuff in. Guess we are in it for the long haul now…..We picked up our little white pill the next day and reviewed the schedule of Day 3, 5, 7 internal ultrasounds and blood work, seman samples and impromptu HCG injections and ovulation testing. We began treatment as soon as we were allowed.infertility_sucks_sticker-rd06312c70e844f93a230a1806e28d191_v9waf_8byvr_324

My husband and I didn’t tell anyone we were going through fertility treatments. We were still in the ‘ashamed’ stage of the process and I frankly didn’t want the continued questioning. It was bad enough I had family members who made assumptions of a pregnancy anytime I said ‘guess what.’ I wanted to protect our privacy from gossip, from conversation and from rehashing what we were going through as word spread. It was no one’s business – no matter what role you played in our family.

Just an aside – If You are going through a fertility process of any kind, please remember that you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation! Don’t be afraid to say ‘back off’ or ‘it is personal’ or ‘it is none of your freekin business.’ Sometimes people believe that because you have their last name, that everything you go through requires public disclosure. It does not. Do what is right for You and stop worrying about the consequences.

Tangent complete.

So let’s talk facts; the most common dosage of Clomid is 50 mg, taken for five days, on days 3 through 7 of your cycle, or days 5 through 9 of your cycle. (With day one of your cycle being the first day of real menstrual bleeding, and not just spotting.) The drug, though useful in treating some fertility issues does come with a LIST of side-effects:

Possible side effects of Clomid include:

  • Enlarged and tender ovaries (14%)

  • Hot flashes (11%)

  • Abdominal tenderness, due to enlarged and tender ovaries (7.4%)

  • Bloating (5.5%)

  • Breast tenderness (2.1%)

  • Vaginal dryness or thicker cervical mucus

  • Nausea and vomiting (2.2%)

  • Anxiety and insomnia (1.9%)

  • Vision disturbances (1.6%)

  • Headache (1.3%)

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding (spotting) (0.5%)

  • Mood swings and fatigue (0.3%)

    Mood Swings

Lets focus on the last one…MOOD SWINGS. Yup – they aint kidding! My poor Husband was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again – poor guy. I would cry when he stepped on and killed ants and laugh when he had a bad day at work….terrible……but a little hysterical looking back.

Well worth is all in the end I guess.

Month 1 – Clomid with IUI. Here goes nothing.

(Source on CLOMID – www.infertility.about.com “Clomid Treatment 101”)

Next Blog: Clomid Cycle in Detail