Our clients' stories
Zdenka, 33 years old
We tried to conceive for the first time when I was 27 years old. I hadn’t been taking any contraceptives or any other drugs long-term, and so I and my husband naively believed that one attempt would be enough. We had healthy life-styles, do sports and were fit and strong. So why wouldn’t it work? But for some reason it didn’t work, and after some 18 months I began to discuss the matter with my doctor. However, I felt that she was not really helping or listening to my needs, and therefore I decided to change my gynaecologist. He sent me to the nearest reproduction clinic for examination. I and my husband were examined and they said we were both OK. It was positive news and we were very happy, but on the other hand we still didn’t know the cause of our problems. In some ways this was more distressing, because if a problem had been found, it could have been cured. From that point on we went down the artificial reproduction route, and went through all the various stages. I underwent artificial insemination, which wasn’t successful. Inside, I knew that there was something wrong and that it hadn’t been discovered. I was told that there are so many factors that may cause conception problems and that in many cases they cannot be diagnosed. This wasn’t an answer that I was prepared to accept.
I decided to undergo the same examination at another clinic and my cousin recommended trying Arleta. I believed that it might be different and better. I liked the peaceful environment – there weren’t crowds waiting – and I hoped for a more personal approach and more thorough care. All the time I had the same doctor, which was comforting. I don’t like talking about my problems, and repeating them to different doctors makes me feel uncomfortable.
The new results for my husband were even better than at the first clinic, but in my case, it was found that I had problems with my thyroid. This was news to me: no-one in my family had ever had such health problems and I had no symptoms.
Moreover, Dr Doležal recommended undergoing a tubal patency test (STK). My gynaecologist had originally proposed sending me to hospital for a diagnostic laparoscopy, which is quite invasive and requires general anaesthesia, but STK seemed easier than surgery. OK, I had to pay for it, but it wasn’t so expensive. I was satisfied with this intervention. I knew that it was minor, but the doctor spoke to me throughout, so I was quite satisfied with the procedure. The STK didn’t confirm any problems, but it did help reopen the Fallopian tubes. In my opinion, this intervention, plus the thyroid medicine, made a fundamental difference.
I feel that in the first clinic I would have been sent to IVF after several unsuccessful inseminations, but I wasn’t ready to do that yet. It was a nice surprise to discover that at Arleta they used less invasive procedures, and I was offered another option than IVF. The cause of my problem had been identified and the most radical solution was not necessary. Personally, I see IVF as a last resort.
Three months after I started to take the thyroid medicine I was able to detect ovulation using a home testing kit and I got pregnant for the first time. After so many negative tests from the doctors, I couldn’t believe my eyes. After such experiences, a woman usually doubts herself and what she sees. Then it was just pure joy, and I was off to see the doctor to confirm the results. I finally saw myself as a mum.
With hindsight, I realise that it was just a small thing that could have been solved easily. An underactive thyroid gland is quite common, but no-one identified it. It wasn’t anything special, but this missing hormone made conception impossible. So for me, this small matter was absolutely fundamental.
I think that we should never be satisfied when we’re told that there is only one option available, if you somehow don’t really feel the same way inside. I had an intuition that there must be another way, and followed it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t offered any other options at the beginning, and if you don’t know what’s out there you can’t ask for it. It was definitely worth searching for a more gentle procedure. And it was definitely worth following up personal recommendations. I trusted my doctor, and since the psyche is important, trust is important too. I hope that my story will help others, inspire or give hope. Even if it’s just one woman who is at a stage when IVF seems like the last and only chance. She may like to hear a story that tells her it’s not always true.