My Endometriosis and IVF Journey: Janelle’s Story
Minimally invasive surgery to remove endometriosis and IVF treatments helped to turn Janelle’s story around.
“I’m just one month shy of my anniversary of losing my left fallopian tube due to an ectopic pregnancy,” said Janelle S. (Virginia) “I went through countless surgeries and was devastated that I could not give my husband a child naturally. I felt terribly alone and less of a woman for years, until now.”
“Not really knowing what the disease was, I did my research and realized that’s why I was always in so much pain. On January 30, 2012 I had my first surgery to remove my endometriosis by a regular OBGYN, not a specialist.”
Janelle later discovered that unless endometriosis is completely removed, it can continue to cause problems with fertility. It is a condition that is not well understood by the medical industry.
The Importance of Finding An Endometriosis Expert
Endometriosis experts are better at identifying and removing all lesions, endometriomas and pelvic adhesions (or scars) that can develop from years of inflammation. Not all OBGYNs are trained to recognize the symptoms or to thoroughly remove endometriosis, often resorting to performing hysterectomies which are not always effective in treating the pain. If lesions or damaged tissue is left behind, it can cause intense pain or infertility.
Janelle’s OBGYN discovered that her right fallopian tube was completely blocked, which meant she only had one viable tube.
“Soon after the surgery we got pregnant and we were so happy. Then it took a turn. For about a week I was having light spotting and pain. My OBGYN said to relax and kick my feet up, I was too early for an ultrasound. I listened, but was thinking why wouldn’t I be seen if I’m spotting? But you listen to your provider.”
It is important for women to trust their instincts if something feels wrong. While doctors have experience helping patients with many symptoms, they aren’t the ones experiencing them. This is why second opinions are so important.
“March 10th, 2012 our world shattered. I felt so terrible that Saturday. I was in so much pain and nauseated I couldn’t stand it. When I got to the emergency room, they took me back right away and performed an ultrasound. I asked if I could see the baby. The ultrasound was painful. I never saw the screen. I had to be rushed into surgery right away. I had an ectopic pregnancy that had ruptured and I was bleeding internally.”
Ectopic pregnancies occur when the embryo cannot pass into the uterus and stays in the fallopian tube, or implants. These are usually discovered before the 8th week of pregnancy. Even though they are caught in the early stages of pregnancy, ectopic pregnancies are life threatening to the mother, and the baby cannot survive.
“Going back into surgery, all I could say was ‘you have to save my tube it’s my only one!’ Crying, and terrified we called our families, and our mothers met us right before they took me back. I have never been so scared in my life. After surgery, I was told by my amazing nurse who was monitoring me that they could not save the fallopian tube. I just cried and he rubbed my back comforting me. I will forever be grateful for his compassion. I went through many, many stages of grief. I was completely shattered that I couldn’t give my husband a baby. I’d constantly tell him if you want to leave I understand, I’m giving you an out. I felt so helpless and beside myself. But he never did. He said we will get through this together. He has always been my number one fan. Always telling me I’m so strong and supporting me.”
Removing Endometriosis and IVF Treatments Can Improve Chances Of Getting Pregnant
Seeing a minimally invasive GYN specialist before you begin IVF treatments can help improve success rates of conceiving and carrying to term. The advanced trained surgical specialists at The Center for Innovative GYN Care have designed minimally invasive procedures to diagnose & treat possible causes of infertility, with the shortest recovery time, to help you start your family sooner.
“My new OBGYN referred me to see Dr. Paul J. Mackoul, MD, an endometriosis excision expert. During my consultation with him we discussed removing my right fallopian tube because it would interfere with the in vitro fertilization. We didn’t want to ruin any of our chances. Surgery was scheduled for September, 2012. Everything went smoothly as possible. He is an amazing doctor with fantastic bedside manner.”
“But my emotional roller coaster continued: not knowing when we would be able to do IVF, or if we would ever be financially stable?”
Unsuccessful infertility treatments are common. After the 2nd or even 3rd very expensive treatment (avg is ~ $12,000, plus additional medication costs of $3,000 to $5,000. Additional genetic testing can push the total upwards of $25,000 per treatment), women often discover that they have a treatable GYN condition like fibroids or endometriosis* that is getting in the way. If these conditions are treated early with minimally invasive laparoscopic GYN surgery, IVF success rates are higher, and there is improvement in carrying a child to term.
“In October 2013 I had my last surgery to remove scar tissue and endometriosis excision to prepare for IVF.”
Finally Trying To Start A Family
“On November 11th 2014, we met Dr. Pierre Asmar at Washington Fertility. A new whirlwind of emotions came with that! I immediately started birth control medication and a few short weeks after that the fertility injections started.”
Despite the heartwrenching journey to get to this point, everything finally went according to plan!
“Egg retrieval happened December 18th. They extracted 11 eggs, and seven survived. We ended up with our transfer date five days later on December 23rd. Up until that day, we planned on transferring two embryos for fear of one not taking. Dr. Asmar strongly disagreed with that because I was 26 years old and was only missing my tubes. He felt strongly it would work the first time and we should only transfer one. We transferred one of our embryos and then waited. A very long two weeks. On January 6th, 2015 at 8:30am, I had my first test. That afternoon at 2PM, the nurse called to say ‘Congratulations momma!’ In tears, I immediately called my husband to celebrate!”
“I look over to my son Landon right now tearing up and smiling. I am truly honored to share my story to help other women have hope. We are beyond blessed with a beautiful healthy baby boy, born on September 6th, 2015. He was 7 pounds 9 ounces, 21 inches tall. We have 6 embryos frozen and waiting for us!”
“This was a five year journey that began in April 2010. I encourage all ladies to follow a support group and reach out to each other. Initially I chose to deal with it silently, but now follow support groups and talk to a few about everything. I hope my story speaks to some women and to remember you don’t have to do this alone!”
GYN conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic adhesions, uterine polyps, uterine septum, and inflammation of the fallopian tubes (hydrosalpinx) can affect the healthy trajectory of a pregnancy. Many women who feel they are ready to start a family have difficulty conceiving, suffer through multiple miscarriages, or deliver early putting the mother and baby at risk. And many of those discover that they have a GYN condition that could have been treated. The emotional toll on a woman or couple trying to conceive can be painful.
If these conditions are identified and treated early there is a greater chance of conceiving and carrying a child to term. If surgery is necessary, minimally invasive GYN techniques make it possible for many women to begin starting their family sooner than with open, more invasive procedures.
BOOK A CONSULTATION
The CIGC state-of-the-art specialists are available at three locations in the DC metro area. Virginia patients can visit the Reston, VA location, and Saturday appointments are available. Maryland offices are located in Rockville, MD and Annapolis, MD.
CIGC is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. The CIGC founders, minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD, developed their advanced GYN surgical techniques using only two small incisions with patients’ well-being in mind.
Their personalized approach to care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so that they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 20,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding better ways to improve outcomes for patients.