“I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 21,” says Divya, as she begins her story. Divya had spent some of her life as a pharmacist, followed by academic research and medical communications.
“In the context of coming to the Harley Street Fertility Clinic and undergoing an IVF cycle, I do know a reasonable amount about medications and the underlying conditions that can cause infertility in men and women... having a medical background helps me understand the nature of treatment -that there is no preparation for the rollercoaster that IVF is.”
Divya and her husband knew early on that they wanted to have a family together, but they weren’t sure if Divya could have children without IVF due to her advanced endometriosis.
“By some miracle, I found out not long after we got married, that I’d fallen pregnant,” says Divya. She remembers both her and her husband being ecstatic at the thought.
Unfortunately, they found out at the 12-week scan that they had lost the baby. “There was no warning, there were no signs,” says Divya. She confesses that coming to terms with the devastating loss of her baby, and all the complications afterwards, was far from easy.
“2020 came, and we decided that if things didn’t happen for us within 6 months, we should seek medical advice.” It wasn't long before Divya and Tony decided to explore IVF.
Choosing Harley Street Fertility Clinic
With the pandemic forcing IVF clinics to close temporarily, the couple were worried they would have difficulties. "It was absolutely devastating for thousands of families. We were fortunate that when the time came for us to look at IVF, the clinics opened again.
HSFC came up in our search for clinics and I was very, very lucky that I already knew Dr Venkat from childhood, believe it or not. I knew Dr Venkat was a well-respected professional in her field, and she knew about my endometriosis. I felt that I was in the right place to try to find the answers I was looking for.”
Both Divya and her husband underwent baseline tests, and it turned out that Divya had diminished ovarian reserves - but, despite her condition, she was borderline.
“Dr Venkat gave us the option to wait a few more months to see if we could conceive naturally, but I didn’t want to leave it to chance. We decided to start IVF straight away, in July 2020.”
Egg collection and treatment
By August, Divya had undergone one egg collection. The embryology team collected eight eggs in total, and Divya praised the team who "kept us posted at every opportunity. I couldn’t be more grateful for the support of the entire nursing team, especially Tanya – not sure what she made of me, when I asked to see the ultrasound scan to understand what she was looking for and why, she was absolutely wonderful, it gave me a sense of comfort in understanding a little bit more of what the clinic team were looking for when they did the tests and why. Dr Venkat guided us through every stage of treatment planning."
Divya admitted that this was probably the moment she and her husband began to appreciate the IVF rollercoaster. "You almost feel like you are playing Russian Roulette when you know there is a certain number of eggs, and that they might not all make it. I have to thank the embryology team – no question was too big or too small.”
Further tests and screening
As Dr Venkat advised, Divya then underwent immune screening, as it’s been found that a lot of women with endometriosis can have immune system dysfunction. The results revealed that Divya was prone to micro-clots, which could have potentially contributed to the miscarriage, and may have also explained why she struggled to conceive.
Divya also found out that she was unable to metabolise folic acid. “I could have had a textbook diet, taken the antenatal vitamins, but the folic acid was not doing any good. Dr Venkat advised me to take a modified form of folic acid to support embryo and foetal development," explains Divya.
The findings of the tests were not a complete surprise for Divya, but they did give her an explanation for her miscarriage. “Even though we were still swimming in the sea of uncertainty, there was some comfort.”
In the second part of the blog, Divya talks about her embryo transfer, about the 2 week wait, naming her embryo "Peanut" and about the support and care she received during her fertilituy journey with HSFC.
To listen to the podcast in a different format, please see below.
To read part 2 and 3 of Divya's story, please see below.