Last year, when I took my slightly battered car for its annual service, the mechanic cheerfully informed me that I needed four new tyres. He kindly explained that standard tyres would be acceptable but extra special non-slip tyres would be so much better. He thought that regular tyres were okay, of course, but, if it was his car, the better tyres would be fitted without a doubt. Towards the end of our discussion, just as I was leaning towards the fancy tyres, he dropped in that the better tyres also had a mightily spectacular price. Hum, decision made, I was pretty sure my little car will be alright with the basic tyres.
Haven't we all enjoyed similar conversations with garages, or car salesmen, or even kitchen fitters? However, I was knocked-off-my-feet surprised when I had the same experience with my IVF clinic. Yes, I am not joking, it really did happen.
Yesterday I went for scan number two of my current IVF cycle. There were the usual dilemmas: Is it acceptable to make small talk whilst the doctor is lubing up a condom? Can I shriek "Youch" when he presses too hard on my left ovary? Is it okay to ask why my doctor decided on a career where he spends most of the time looking into ladies' private parts? You know, the usual stuff. But on this occasion, during our familiar wind down pleasantries, Mr T looked down at his hands and started to mumble. There was clearly something on his very thoughtful mind. Huh, he's got something awkward to say, I thought, wonder what it is? I hope I haven't got a large growth hiding in my uterus. The doctor shuffled in his chair, frantically tapped away at his keyboard and finally brought up the subject of two "optional" treatments. What?! There's more stuff they can do to me? Well, as it transpired, not me exactly.
The first addition up for discussion was Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva). If you think it sounds fancy, that's because it seriously is. Eeva is a method of continuously monitoring embryos during their first moments and days of development. The very scientific theory goes that by scrupulously watching their every move and division you can tell which embryos are the good ones. And, based on a complicated mathematical algorithm the embryologist can, potentially, choose that elusive embryo capable of yielding a golden pregnancy. Good, huh?
The second super-dooper IVF improvement is called EmbryoGlue. Yes, the marketing bods really have named the "optional" treatment EmbryoGlue. Who is going to turn down the opportunity to glue their embryo to their uterus? The science is a bit, but not much, more complicated than just gluing one thing to another; it involves adhesion molecules and carbohydrates but, in a biological sense, sticking things together is exactly what it does. A-ma-zing! Just look at the title of their movie clip. Who wouldn't want that?
What's the catch? Well, there really isn't a lot of evidence that either of these things will definitely make me a pregnant lady. And, not surprisingly, they come with some pretty yikes-inducing price tags.
As I listened to Mr T enthusing over the benefits of these two IVF advancements, I couldn't hide my scepticism; I was the same with the mechanic. As my eyes grew wider and wider, my lovely fertility specialist finally cracked and said "Well, it certainly won't hurt". Losing control of myself for a moment, I let out an involuntary snort - always attractive - and Mr T conceded that it would most definitely hurt my pocket.
So it has come to this. I am forced to make decisions about whether I take the gamble and pay the money for experimental treatments that might - Mr T says probably - improve my chance of a pregnancy. I can't help feeling that this shouldn't be my decision. Surely this is either the best treatment, in which case sign me up, or no-one really knows, in which case, do the bloody trials.
The cost for both treatments would be £1200 (approximately $1800 USD) and, if I choose both, could increase my pregnancy rate from 50% up to a staggering 80% (possibly).
If I turn it down and I don't get pregnant will I beat myself up and think I should have done more, spent more, tried harder? Of course, the lovely fertility specialist was very careful to say my current plan, without the bells and whistles, is perfectly good - nothing wrong with it - but, in his opinion, the extras would make it better.
I don't know, I really don't. Any advice? What would you do?