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Gift of Hope IVF Grant 2023 – Sarah & Daniel

Sarah & Daniel’s Story – Navigating Lean PCOS in the Hopes of Parenthood

Sarah & Daniel - Gift of Hope IVF Grant 2023

Sarah and Daniel have shared a beautiful journey together since their high school days when they reconnected and started dating. The couple dated all through high school and college. They went through several ups and downs through those years after the losses of several very close family members, including Daniel’s mom and Sarah’s grandmother. Both graduates of LSU, they tied the knot in 2019 and are now young working professionals residing in Baton Rouge.

Throughout their relationship, they have always dreamed of becoming parents, drawing inspiration from their large and loving families. “I’m an only child, but both my mom and dad have a lot of brothers and sisters, so I have about 30 cousins, most who live close by,” says Sarah. Together, the couple talked often about how many children they would have. While Sarah wanted more, they agreed on two. However, their path to parenthood took an unexpected turn when Sarah was diagnosed with Lean Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Navigating lean PCOS to become pregnant

Soon after they got married, Sarah decided to discontinue birth control pills with hopes of conceiving naturally. When her menstrual cycle failed to return after a few months, she became concerned that something was wrong. Alarmed by the situation, she sought guidance from her gynecologist, who prescribed progesterone as a potential solution. This helped her have a period the first month, but after, no more cycles.

In 2022, Sarah and Daniel took a significant step in their journey by consulting with Dr. Neil Chappell, a reproductive specialist at Fertility Answers. Further investigations, including blood testing, revealed that Sarah had elevated levels of Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and cysts on her ovaries, both indicative of polycystic ovary syndrome. Hallmarks of PCOS also include failure to ovulate and being overweight.

But, unlike most PCOS sufferers, Sarah was not overweight. Sarah falls into the category called “lean PCOS,” meaning she does not exhibit the commonly associated weight gain seen in most PCOS patients. Further testing also revealed that Sarah was insulin resistant, a metabolic dysfunction commonly associated with the syndrome. With insulin resistance, the body responds poorly to insulin, often leading to more challenges with fertility. In such cases, medications like metformin may be prescribed to improve metabolic responses to carbohydrates and sugar, ultimately promoting more natural ovulation. 

Patients with lean PCOS often pursue IVF to conceive

Sarah & Daniel, Gift of Hope IVF Grant 2023

Lean PCOS presents its own unique challenges to conceiving, making it crucial for Sarah and Daniel to work closely with a fertility specialist like Dr. Chappell to tailor a treatment plan specifically to her needs. Driven by their deep desire to conceive, they first embarked on a series of intrauterine inseminations (IUI) using letrozole and clomid to help stimulate ovulation. Despite their hopes, Sarah did not achieve pregnancy after three IUIs, leading them to consider the next logical step in their fertility treatment: in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF, often seen as a ray of hope for couples facing fertility challenges, involves fertilizing eggs with sperm in a laboratory setting and then transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus.

However, the substantial cost of IVF held the couple back. “Our insurance coverage doesn’t pay for any fertility treatments,” says Sarah. “All of our previous treatment and IUIs were completely out of pocket for us.” Feeling the pinch, they would have to put their dreams of parenthood on hold until they could afford to do IVF. Then, they learned about the Gift of Hope IVF Grant offered by Fertility Answers and decided to apply.

“We never thought we would win this,” the couple admits. They were completely shocked when they received a call from Dr. Chappell letting them know the committee had chosen them. “We are so grateful for all of this and the opportunity to go through the fertility treatment we need. I received the call on my birthday and it has definitely been the best birthday present I’ve ever received,” says Sarah. 

Preparing for their IVF cycle

With their IVF grant in hand, Sarah and Daniel are now preparing to undergo the IVF process, which can offer them a higher chance of achieving pregnancy. “Fertility Answers has been amazing and extremely helpful,” says Sarah. “They have helped us find the answers as to what was causing our fertility issues and given us so much hope. It means the world to us to be chosen for this grant.”

Sarah and Daniel’s story is a testament to the resilience and determination of couples facing fertility struggles. Despite the diagnosis of lean PCOS, they have remained steadfast in their pursuit of parenthood. Through their experiences, they have discovered the importance of seeking medical intervention and exploring various treatment options. As they embark on the next stage of their journey with IVF, Sarah and Daniel remain hopeful that their unwavering commitment and this IVF grant will soon make their dream of becoming parents a reality.