Preparing for an egg retrieval procedure with Cushing’s disease

Undergoing IVF involves several extra steps for this columnist

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by Noura Costany |

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My partner and I have made the exciting but difficult decision to freeze embryos, which will allow us to preserve our fertility for when we’re ready to have children.

Our reasons for this are simple. Both Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome affect my ovaries and my cycle, making it more difficult for me to conceive. In addition, I may need to change my medication regimen or undergo endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery in the future to treat my Cushing’s.

Both situations would make egg retrieval more difficult. Therefore, we’ve decided our best course of action is to have the retrieval procedure done now. The eggs will then be fertilized in a lab, frozen, and thawed later, as needed. This process is known as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Planning for egg retrieval is slightly more complicated with Cushing’s disease, requiring extra care and even more doctor appointments. I’m grateful that my team has communicated and walked me through my choices to make me as comfortable as possible during this process. Our current plan is to do the retrieval in May. That may change, but we’re hopeful!

The following is what I expect the egg retrieval process to look like for me as someone with Cushing’s.

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Medication changes

Two weeks before the procedure, I’m supposed to stop taking all of my medication. Previously, I thought I’d be able to keep taking ketoconazole, but this is not true.

Stopping my meds can cause my cortisol level to rise and wreak havoc on my body. However, my team will be monitoring me carefully to make sure I’m OK. From there, my fertility doctor will start giving me injections.

To prepare my body for the egg retrieval process, I have started taking progesterone. This helps prepare my uterus for what’s to come, mostly by regulating my cycle. This is a short-term medication for me, and I’m only taking it until the day the doctor retrieves my eggs.

On the day of the procedure, I’m supposed to take hydrocortisone. This is usually my emergency medication, meant to raise my cortisol level if it ever dips too low. Mine naturally dips and rises, so my doctor recommended taking the medication as a precaution.

Inducing my period

For those with a normal menstrual cycle, doctors will typically time hormones and injections around your body’s natural schedule. While I think that’s beautiful, I don’t have the same luxury. When I’m off my medications, my period is irregular and hard to predict. As a result, we’ve decided to induce my period in order to go through with the procedure. My doctor and I feel it’s the best way to ensure success.

Lifestyle changes

My doctor has recommended treating my body as kindly as possible, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m eating lean proteins and healthy fats. I’m listening to my body and trying to get as much sleep as I can. I’m relaxing, taking it easy, and making sure I take my vitamins and supplements every single day. I will also continue being active and doing yoga three to five times a week.

Special treat

For some people, egg retrieval is soon followed by embryo transfer and pregnancy. Because we’re freezing our embryos, we won’t get that wonderful result right after this difficult process. Therefore, my partner and I are planning a relaxing day at home post-egg retrieval. We’ll order in from one of our favorite restaurants, cuddle up on the couch, make a little fort, and watch our favorite TV show. This gives us something to look forward to, and it’s a small way to celebrate this big step.

Having children is possible with Cushing’s disease. In some cases, it just requires extra steps. I want to recognize that there are legal issues in some states that affect people’s ability to access assisted reproductive techniques like IVF. My heart goes out to those individuals.

You can also follow my journey on TikTok and YouTube.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


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