ramblings from the noisedoctor

February 2, 2007

are all fertility doctors like this?

Filed under: Christianity, infertility, marriage — noisedoctor @ 9:28 am

I’ve been meaning to write down this question since we met with our fertility doctor before Christmas. I’m finally doing that. Part of the reason is that friends of mine went to meet with the same doctor (I’ll call him Doctor O for short) and had nearly the same experience–so I know it wasn’t just for me and my wife.

We went to our appointment and had to wait 45 minutes before going back to the exam room (not setting a good mood for me, but I got over it) and they did an ultrasound on my wife (interesting since she is an ultrasound tech herself). The doctor did his thing. My wife got dressed and we went into his office.

He started reading through our paperwork and looked at some ultrasounds. He asked a couple questions of us without even looking up at us. After a few minutes, he put down the paperwork and started into a monologue that went something like this:

Well, there’s no obvious cause of why you’re not pregnant. … Since the average for couples without (not sure the phrasing he used, but something like “problems”) is 6 months. So, you’re out a standard deviation. You’ve been doing ovulation kits and timed intercourse. So, you’ve given it a college try. Now, our goal is to have you pregnant in 6 months.

So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll start you on three months of Clomid and do an IUI (artificial insemination). If that doesn’t work, then we’ll do IVF (in-vitro fertilization, aka “test-tube babies”). That’s actually a good thing because we can create some XX (not going to give out my wife’s age here) year old embryos and freeze them for the future, so that can reduce the risk of birth defects versus creating embryos later on with older eggs.

This dude was flying here. I finally had to stop him and say, “excuse me doctor. I mean no disrespect. I know you’re an expert here and all. But, I guess we should have been clear up front (which I thought my wife had been when she made the appointment, but obviously she wasn’t). The reason we’re here is to find out if there’s any medical reason for us not being pregnant and to get some information to use to make decisions about what treatment plan we want to take (if any). And, if we go ahead with a plan, there are certain things that I’m going to have ethical (I didn’t want to use the word “religious” but that was what I meant) issues with.” I paused before continuing. “It’s sort of like this, I trust that my mechanic is an expert. But if he tells me I need a new transmission, I don’t just take that at face value. I want him to explain to me why my transmission is shot and why we can’t just rebuild it. I just don’t just jump and buy a new one without more information.”

I don’t remember Doctor O’s exact response to me. Part of it was gracious and understanding, part of it was demeaning and conveyed something like “well, you aren’t getting pregnant thus far on your own, if you want to waste time doing it on your own, that’s fine–just don’t waste my time.”

Now, in fairness to Doctor O, I understand that probably 99.99% of the couples (or just women, not sure all the men go) that walk into his office want to be pregnant yesterday if not sooner. So, I can understand that most people just go in there with the attitude of “just make us pregnant, we don’t care what you do, what it costs, etc.” I get that. But… not everyone is in that same boat. So, do you not think it wise to maybe ask what your patient wants or what their attitude is? I hardly imagine that a doctor treating a cancer patient just walks in the room and gives them a treatment regimen. I would expect that the doctor would actually talk to the patient and then together decide how aggressive the treatment should be, etc.

Of course, another thing on my mind as I was sitting there was as he’s saying “our goal is to have you pregnant in 6 months” was “well, that’s nice, but if that’s not God’s goal for us, we don’t want it.” Maybe I should have said that to him, but I didn’t.

Now, I believe that God has blessed us (us in a corporate sense) with doctors and that they are part of His plans. But since God didn’t give me any incredible insight that we were to talk into the doctor’s office and do everything the doctor said without any questioning or further prayer, I’m going to take that information and take it to God in prayer. To me, and maybe I’m some sort of heretic, it’s similar to hearing a sermon at church. I don’t just accept everything the pastor says as absolute truth. I take things to God in prayer and I examine scripture to ensure that what has been said is actually true (most times it is, but I’ve heard plenty of things said from pulpits that doesn’t match up with the Bible).

So, I don’t know if Doctor O was just saving time by not asking us about our intentions, goals, etc. or if he was just on a power trip. It sure felt like the latter. In his defense, since then he has been much kinder to us and hasn’t pushed for aggressive treatments (we’re in our second month of “monitored natural cycles”). So, I guess he got my message. I’m betting there’s some big bold warning message written on the front page of our file, something like “husband is a big jerk and in no hurry to get his wife pregnant.” I’m kidding there, of course.


  1. I meant to respond to this Friday, but then work got crazy and then the weekend came, so here we go again. Our RE first pushed IUI on us too. He didn’t mention IVF, so I guess he wasn’t looking that far ahead yet. I asked if we could first try the medication and timing things just right first, and he agreed that that was reasonable. I think the REs typically are just used to their patients wanting to get pregnant quickly, so they tend to think in that way immediately. But, at least with ours, once we mentioned we wanted to start out as little aggressively at first, and move up as need be, he seemed just fine with that.

    Comment by Jessica — February 5, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  2. Jessica, thanks for the reply there. I guess it is a common thing, then. I don’t quite get it, but that’s life.

    Comment by noisedoctor — February 5, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

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