WICHITA FALLS, TX–When they’re not playing with their pet chameleon, Zelda or collecting cute pictures of sloths–Whitney and Steven Pickle are working day and night to have a baby. However, life presented Whitney and her husband with an obstacle.
Whitney was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome also known as P.C.O.S.. It affects 1 in 8 women during childbearing years and is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
After discovering she had P.C.O.S the Pickles went with a more intense plan of action in getting pregnant by starting In Vitro Fertilization.
IVF is a common practice of assisted reproductive technology. In the short version, eggs and sperm are collected and combined in a lab in the hopes of creating a viable embryo that’s ready to be transferred into the uterus. It sounds simple enough, IVF is a painstaking process that can cost an upwards of $15,000 or more for one cycle. It’s also not available in Wichita Falls, forcing Whitney and Steven to drive all the way to The Fertility Center in Dallas, multiple times a week.
So far, Whitney and Steven are about half way through the IVF process and are waiting to do a frozen embryo transfer. They ended up with 12 viable embryos and were given a 64% success rate in getting pregnant.
While this is good news, dealing with infertility has taken its toll on the young couple, both physically and mentally.
“You feel like something is broken if you’re not able to do this thing that happens for other people by accident,” said Steven.
“It’s one of those things that nobody talks about there’s so much shame and embarrassment with it,” said Whitney.
To offset the stress of dealing with infertility, Whitney created a special blog to keep track of the special journey to hopeful show to thier kids one day. She also did it to inspire hope for others going through the same thing. To visit the webiste, clcik here.
While IVF has yet to come to United Regional, Dr. Thien Tran sees couples who are in the same pickle as Whitney and Steven, and says there are other less costly fertility options in Wichita Falls that may still work for others.
“We can do an evaluation to evaluate the anatomy, we can actually do ovulation superinduction with medications, sometimes gonadotropins even to help with producing that egg,” said Dr. Tran.
Dr. Tran also says there are many factors other than P.C.O.S that can contribute to infertility.
“An STD, gonorrhea, chlamydia, endometriosis, surgeries, infections, anything that would cause an inflammatory environment in the pelvis can potentially result in permanent scarring to the tubes where they’re not functional, ” said Dr. Tran, “…there can be an anatomic abnormality like a spectrum or a fibroid, even polyps and things that could interfere with pregnancy.”
Problems with fertility are not only found in women…but men too.
Accodring to Dr.Tran, in up to 40 percent of couples there are some male factors that are associated with infertility. Something as simple as a seimen analysis can give doctors a lot of information.
He says, “Most of time if we can assure that the pathway is clear, the available sperm is healthy and we can get the woman to ovulate, usually that results in a pregnancy.”
Another local resource is the Women’s Clinic, which is acustomed to taking care of paitients who are tyring to have a baby.
Dr. Drew Benac says one in ten visits at the clinic deal with women who are wanting to get pregnant, having difficulty, or hoping to get pregnant. The clinc also conducts numerous tests for fertility and other important factors for pregnancy.
“There are some couples where you would do some genetic testing beforehand. Maybe if there’s a family history of a genetic condition that you want to know about and we do, do some of that here,” said Dr. Benac, “…once a couple does get pregnant we do additional genetic testing to evaluate for conditions that you would not be able to diagnose before pregnancy.”
As Whitney and Stephen progress on their journey to one day having their own sweet pickle, they want other couples struggling with infertility to realize not all journeys are alike.
“You don’t have to immediately jump to IVF,” said Steven. “It works for the clomid and femara treatments that we did, they work for a lot of people so that help is available right here locally for reasonable prices.”
And perhaps their most meaningful piece of advice is: “Don’t lose hope.”