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Baby, baby: Two women share their experiences with fertility drugs

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Sunday, January 27, 2008 | 0 comments

Amy and Stephen Smyk of Vestal tried unsuccessfully to start a family for more than seven years.

"We went through batteries of tests," said Smyk, now 38. "There was no reason why we couldn't get pregnant."

So they turned to fertility drugs for help. Within two months, Smyk was pregnant with Kara, now 3. The drugs also helped her to conceive Hannah, who turns 9 months old this week.

"Without this help, I don't know if we could have had healthy pregnancies," said Smyk, who described her daughters as a "complete and utter blessing."

Cost of treatment

The Smyks are among an estimated 10 percent of couples across the United States who have difficulty conceiving children. About 5 to 7 percent of them turn to fertility treatments for help, said Dr. James Kondrup, a Vestal gynecologist who treated Amy Smyk.

Locally, numbers of couples seeking fertility treatments have dropped from a high of 15 patients per week back in the early 1990s to four or five patients per week. That's due to the loss of jobs suffered by the Southern Tier and cutbacks in insurance coverage, Kondrup said.

"Patients cannot afford to pay for fertility treatments out of their pocket," said Kondrup, who's been practicing in Broome County for 20 years.

Treatments range from $50 for one cycle of five pills (the most common option being Clomid) to $2,000 for one cycle of injectable treatments, called gonadotropins, he said. Some insurance companies cover the cost of treatments while others don't. Smyk's insurance covered two rounds of injections -- enough time to help her conceive.

Seeing double

One of the side effects of using fertility drugs is multiple-birth pregnancies -- which Beth Wolfer of Berkshire experienced after injecting fertility treatments. Evan and Larissa will turn 3 years old in March.

The chances of having twins increases by 5 to 10 percent if a woman takes Clomid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's extremely rare -- almost impossible -- to have triplets or more when using that drug.

Women who use gonadotropins see their chances of having twins rise to 15 to 20 percent, and there's a 5 percent chance of having triplets or more with the injectable form, the CDC reports.

Either way, multiple births have a higher chance of complications such as low birth weight -- which occurs in 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies. Evan weighed just 1 pound, 7 ounces while Larissa weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces when they were born prematurely.

"There were times we didn't know if we they were going to make it," Wolfer said of herself and her husband, Matthew.Today, the twins are doing well with the help of speech, physical and occupational therapy, she said.

Is it worth it?

Both Smyk and Wolfer say they advise any couple trying unsuccessfully to have children to try fertility treatments.

"The science is out there to do it," said Wolfer, 40. "It can work."

Both women say they don't regret all the shots, the countless trips to the doctor's office and the long wait to become a mother.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions", Wolfer said. "It's not easy. But it's all worth it."

Source: http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080127/LIFESTYLE/801270333/1004/LIFESTYLE


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Catherine

About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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