If you are searching for a phrase ICSI success story you are in the right place. I know how important and encouraging success stories were to me during our infertility journey. So, here is mine to encourage you on your way to pregnancy.
Be sure to read my first story about infertility and IVF.
So, we had our Little Sunshine, Bella, our dear daughter, our everything… but we wanted one more baby. The main reason for me was for her to have a sister or a brother. Just so that she`s never alone in this wild jungle world.
I got my first postpartum period when she was 15 months old. I thought: Come on, maybe we`ll be one of those lucky ones who got pregnant naturally the second time around…
Aaaand… We weren`t.
We did try for 6 months, but I knew better, didn’t happen before, and it’s not gonna happen now. Let’s go again…
Just a little before DD’s 2nd birthday we started again. But this time… are you sitting down… we went in for 9 cycles in 14 months! As I said before, I`m not one of those waiting between cycles…just moving on. That kept me going. The pauses that I had to do were killing me. They not doing anything part.
My ICSI Success Story Step-by-Step
Cycle #1 – The First Flop
I’m gonna try and make it short so as not to bother you with details. But some things I just must say that I know will help you. I was obsessed with numbers and how big follicles should be for perfect trigger time, what grades meant for a 3-day embryo, for a blastocyst…
When we had a successful pregnancy they triggered me at 16 mm. My follicles were growing at a normal rate. This time, 3 years later my body had changed and it was different, they were a bit unpredictable and growing faster. The main reason why every patient is an individual and that fertility doctors should look at every woman like that.
They triggered me at 20x18mm follicle size (that means that it was 19mm follicle 20+18=38:2=19). I knew right away it was too late.
One widely applied protocol is to start the trigger when several follicles reach a diameter of 17 or 18 mm. Other studies indicate triggering at follicle diameters of 12–15 mmNational Library of Medicine
Of course, 2 days later when I came for egg retrieval (Transvaginal oocyte retrieval – ER) I had already ovulated. OK, next month, I say to myself…
Cycle #2 – We Have a Cell!!
First checkup CD7, a follicle 13cm… by the CD11 it’s 17×14, endo 0,7cm we did the trigger – the final maturation induction.
CD13, We have a cell!
Two days later, again the perfect 8cell embryo, but without the pic tho. They say it is not good for us to get attached to the photo, and not good for our state of mind…. ok. I’m so happy, and thinking, This is it, as the last time… yea right haha.
- 12DP3DT (12 days past 3-day transfer), it’s New Year’s Eve, and after about 20 BFN’s I get a BFP! It wasn`t an evap, it was a faint line. I even put the test under the Christmas tree for my partner…
Tomorrow….nothing… a big fat negative… another biochemical pregnancy…
- Moving on to the next cycle.
Cycle #3 – Flop, Again
CD11 follicle 15×16, endo 11, trigger that day… I once again ovulated before ER. From everything I’ve read triggering time in natural cycles is best around 16mm. Not for me.
Also, the books say that the follicles grow around 1mm per day. Not to me…
We get here every second day and they would grow to 4mm. I’ve realized that I should get the trigger by 15mm. I have to mention that all of these numbers I had to see for myself and write down for my research. Nobody tells you a lot here about your follicles, endometrium, ovaries, or anything.
- On the other hand, if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t know this much today. It just pushed me to learn and help myself. The learning and researching part was like therapy for me. I would search the web for hours … days… about for example a follicle size.
Cycle #4 – Weird Shapes
As I said we come for the first checkup 7th or 8th CD. This time I ovulated before that. I did feel the pain… When we are trying to conceive we become so much aware of our body. I know exactly when I`m ovulating, and which ovary. Our body becomes super sensitive.
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So this time I also did feel Ovulation pain, but CD 6 or 7. I hoped it was a mistake… but it wasn’t. Also, the cyst that stays after ovulation was in such a weird shape the Dr was not sure at first even what it was.
Cycle #5 – My First IVF Injections and Stimulated Procedure
The dr suggested I take Estrofem, those are the hormone pills that I had to take for around 7 days…. The last day would be CD2. They are supposed to calm my ovaries and make sure that follicles don’t grow as fast.
- On CD2 I came for the first checkup and this time we are doing our FIRST Assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycle.
- During the stimulated (ART) cycle we have to come on CD2, the doctor counts the antral follicles and determines the therapy.
- Antral follicles are small follicles that are present at every ovulation. But during the follicular phase in the menstrual cycle (from period to ovulation) only one, or sometimes two grow enough to ovulate. During the stimulated cycle, all of them grow and all are potential follicles for fertilization.
They gave me Menopur… oh my…. I had to mix the IVF the medicine by myself, and then inject my stomach.. it was kinda scary. But I did it anyway.
One time while I was working (I work in a store ), alone in my shift, with customers in-store, there was no other way than to go to the storage room behind a curtain and give myself the medicine. Imagine if someone saw me! What a story it would be haha… The other day I found out that it doesn’t have to be literally at the same time every day. 2 hours later would also be just fine.
- CD 14 I had my first ER with stimulation…but without the anesthesia. They don’t even offer it to you. If you do want it you have to arrange it with the Dr on a trigger day. But we are all so scared and don’t know where our head is, and the Dr just doesn’t mention it. So you feel like a total idiot.
- The woman here in Croatia is struggling for our rights and trying for our voices to be heard. We do have our rights, give them to us.
- Anyway, the Egg Retrieval was really painful, I was squeezing my hands and not breathing and I almost fainted. The nurse held my hand and repeated to me to breathe, or otherwise Ill faint.
We had 8 cells!
7 of them were good, one was immature.
- 3 days later I came to see how did it fertilize. Here we come on day 3… and if more embryos are dividing properly, we wait for day 5 for that holly blastocyst.
- You can’t imagine my disappointment when they told me only 1 made it to day 3!!! Only one! With all that effort, pain, and needles … come on! But okay, I was happy to have the embryo transfer process, and it was again a perfect 8-cell embryo…..
6dp3dt I had a BFP…. Next day … A BFN… Chemical, again…
6th Cycle in a Row
Yes…this will be my 6th in a row, with no pauses between… I can’t go do a stimulated, but I can do a natural cycle.
- CD10 18x15follicle... trigger shot…
- again growing too fast,
- again dr not checking my previous records,
- again I’m aware of it all but not saying anything.
What a fool I was! You’re guessing, I ovulated before Egg Retrieval!
That day an intern was there and when she said that I ovulated, I opened my heart to her and told her I knew exactly the day when I should be triggered and that we could do this forever, but no one is paying attention, just doing everything by the book. She sat with me and told me that I have to talk to my doctor and tell him everything I told her, She said: ‘Of course you know, it’s your body, you have the right to say… ‘
Cycle #7 – The Last Natural Cycle
CD10 follicle 17×16 cm, trigger shot… I knew it was too late.
Read somewhere that taking Voltaren (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) every day from trigger to egg retrieval should slow down growth and ovulation. So I gave it a shot. The day before the ER we went to a wedding. Constantly I was scared that some dancing would make me ovulate…. We went in the morning with our DD1, little sunshine.. and look at this miracle, it worked! I didn’t ovulate before Egg Retrieval!!
So once more I had an 8cell Egg Transfer.
Do I have a blood clotting disorder?
This time I spoke to my Dr to do some tests considering my chemicals. If I didn’t ask we would never do the blood clotting disorder test. I found out I had a mild disorder of thrombophilia, PAI1 heterozygote, and MTHFR A1298C, also heterozygote.
It was absolutely crucial for me to take baby aspirin every day during the luteal phase.
Also, I made sure to take B vitamins, but I needed to take the ACTIVE FORM of B vitamins. I made sure to avoid folic acid or any other B vitamins that were not in their active form, which harms my body.
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In conclusion, supraphysiologic methylfolate, vitamins B6 and B12 supplementation in woman with MTHFR mutations has a beneficial effect on pregnancy outcome.National Library of Medicine
This time we also didn’t make it, but finally, we have some new information, and finally, I no longer have free natural cycles and no more rear of ovulating before ER… now we have 3 more stimulated.
Cycle #8 – 2nd Stimulated Cycle
After summer we went for a new battle. This time they gave me Ovaleap 225 – IVF injections.
- CD 11 one follicle grew more than the other 20×18 cm, and others 15×17, we triggered.
- Again no mention of anesthesia. He said there aren’t a lot of follicles, maybe 4 or 5.
- When I came for egg retrieval, the new fertility doctor was there, she was great! I was in so much ovulation pain, that I knew there weren’t just 4 or 5.
- When she looked at the ultrasound she caught her head and said out loud: My God! This was for anesthesia!!!
- We had about 15 follicles, bud had 11 cells, all done while being completely awake and aware of the pain. How strong our body can be… I just didn’t know that. With all the pain, I was happy with all the cells!
Usually, they don’t tell us anything before 3 days after, but this time this great lady doctor called 2 days later and said NONE HAS FERTILISED!!
This was the first time in all these years of TTC that I was devastated. Crushed… I just couldn’t believe it. All the effort, the pain…for nothing! The next day I had to go there anyway…I knew I was going with no sense, but ok. I’m in the waiting room…
The rule is while waiting for Embryo Transfer (ET), the later they call you, the better chances are. First, they call those who don’t go to transfer…
At one point the nurse came and said: All of you that are left will be going to ET, just be patient.
How the heck is that possible?
I read a million sites yesterday, and it all said that if there is no dividing by 48 hours, it’s over. But as we can see miracles do happen in this infertility world.
The fertility doctor said it’s a 4-cell and a grade 3 out of 5. But hey, I had some hope!
Eventually, it was a BFN…but it really helped me go through these days. I had hope and that’s what kept me going. The worst part was that now I don’t have naturals, and after being stimulated, we have to wait for 3 months for the body to clean itself from all the hormones.
Now we wait again.
RELATED ARTICLE: I developed hypothyroidism during pregnancy
Cycle #9 – 3rd Stimulated – (HERE COMES THE ICSI SUCCESS STORY!)
I conducted extensive research and explored various forms of stimulation during this period. Based on my findings, I concluded that Elonva would be a great option for me.
- The doctors at this facility are not particularly fond of being told what to do, so I had to be tactful in my approach.
During my appointment, I expressed the need for their professional opinion and stated, “I have heard about this treatment called Elonva, and from what I have read, it seems like a suitable therapy for me. However, I trust your judgment completely”
By presenting my perspective in this manner, the doctor agreed and decided that we should proceed with Elonva this time. I was overjoyed with the outcome!
How to improve egg quality?
Also, another little research I did was to find out how to improve egg quality. That research made me start taking CoQ10. Some studies say that pretreatment with CoQ10 increases ovarian response to stimulation and improves oocyte and embryo quality.
You should take a higher dosage of 600mg/day divided into multiple doses. I took 200mg 3 times a day. Some say that ubiquinol form is better than ubiquinone, some say it’s the same…I went for ubiquinol. It also says it should be taken for 2 months… I did it for 15 days.
But it DID WONDERS… Read on.
- CD2 first checkup…. Dr. prescribed Elonva and I went to the nurse to get my IVF injections. She was searching for half an hour… The doctor was very upset and said there had to be one for me. It was kind of funny watching both of them looking for it in that refrigerator. But no Elonva!
So the fertility doctor prescribed Puregon. It’s a similar thing, the main difference is that you give yourself Elonva once and it releases hormones for one week. There`s no stabbing every day.
Puregon 225 is what I had to take every day.
And it was a bigger dose than usual. All the nurses were wondering how did I get that kind of a dose. You see we have these free procedures through our health insurance, but they give us pretty low doses to save some money…. yes, horrible… Maybe no Elonva was actually my lucky charm.
The moment I`ll always remember is my firstborn, Sunshine’s birthday. Full house and I go to the bathroom to give myself a belly shot. My daughter, a 3year old insisted she come with me. So I did it all in front of her, and so quickly, and like it was such a normal thing to do, that I think she forgot about it as we left the bathroom.
Cycle day 10 (CD) we triggered…they were 20/15 and 18/17 on the other side. And this time I said through my teeth: “I want anesthesia this time, a total blackout!” The doctor wasn’t happy about it, but I don’t care at all.
CD11 I feel like a pregnant woman…. I feel my stomach is gonna explode. A lot of pain while walking, standing…doing anything…
CD12 they put me to sleep…. as I wake up I hear someone telling 12 cells… but not sure if I`m dreaming….
This time they did the ICSI procedure. It means that they searched for the perfect sperm and injected it into every cell. While with IVF procedure they just put all the purified sperm with the cells and let nature do its job.
3 days later I came to see how it’s divided…
9 EMBRYOS! WE HAVE 9 EMBRYOS!
You can imagine my ecstatic state of mind at the moment. The wonderful Dr. S allowed me to take a picture of the chart… Usually, we can’t do that… don’t ask me why even if I don’t understand it. They are my cells, come on! I`ll post here that picture, please don’t mind that it’s blurry, my hands were shaking.
The doctor said it`s best to wait for day 5 and see how many blastocysts we will have.
Day of the Embryo Transfer
On day 5…ET, full bladder this time, and waiting.
There are 5 left! 5 BLASTOCYSTS
And great grades they say, the embryologist didn’t want to show me my chart! I was so mad! She said You wouldn’t understand. OH come on, I’ve read so much, sometimes I feel like a doctor myself haha…
Anyway, I did see the grades 3AA, and those are GREAT grades, with up to a 45% chance of success.
They placed 2 blasts.
I went home, and I was happy and somehow calm. Knowing there are still 3 frozen blasts I felt like walking on clouds.
All proud of me and my blasts….
This time I didn’t even chart my temp. Usually, I did during 2ww…this time it was like I knew.
And this time I had absolutely no pregnancy symptoms before the missed period!
Pregnancy test – when to take it?
6DP5DT I had a faint BFP on a chipie. That is actually 11DPO, the same as my first healthy pregnancy.
8DP5DT I did my first FRER. I`ve read so much about those tests, and they are really the best. No evaps on them, like those on cheapie ones. But you can’t buy it in Croatia. So I found it online and the first time I did it……OOOOH, it was a really BIG FAT POSITIVE! Here are my positive pregnancy test images:
And it was a girl…
Our little Lily of the Valley, we named her Zola, and she’s pure love! I want a baby no.2 wishes came true to me…
I hope my ICSI success story was an inspiration to someone and it will help just one bit…
Baby dust ladies….
WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE ALL THINK!!
IVF vs ICSI
IVF and ICSI are two different procedures that help people have babies when they are facing difficulty getting pregnant.
In IVF, which stands for In Vitro Fertilization, an egg is taken from the woman, and sperm is taken from the man. These are then mixed in a lab dish, where they can join and make an embryo. The embryo is then put back into the woman’s womb, where it can grow into a baby.
On the other hand, ICSI, which stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, is a bit different. In this procedure, a single sperm is picked up using a tiny needle. Then, this needle is used to put the sperm directly into the egg. This helps the sperm to fertilize the egg and make an embryo. Similar to IVF, the embryo is later placed into the woman’s womb, where it can grow into a baby.
So, the main difference between IVF and ICSI is how the sperm and egg meet. In IVF, they meet in a lab dish, while in ICSI, the sperm is directly injected into the egg. Both procedures help couples who are struggling to have a baby, but they use slightly different methods to make it happen.
ICSI success rate by age
Here is a short list of ICSI success rates by age:
- Under 35 years: The success rate for ICSI is typically higher for women under 35, with a success rate ranging from 40% to 50%. This age group tends to have better egg quality and higher fertility potential.
- 35-37 years: The success rate for ICSI decreases slightly for women between the ages of 35 and 37, with a success rate ranging from 35% to 40%. Fertility starts to decline gradually in this age range.
- 38-40 years: Women between the ages of 38 and 40 may experience a further decline in success rates, with a range of 25% to 35%. Fertility declines more rapidly during this age range.
- 41-42 years: The success rate for ICSI decreases significantly for women between the ages of 41 and 42, with a success rate ranging from 10% to 20%. Fertility declines considerably, and egg quality may be compromised.
It’s important to note that these success rates are general estimates and individual outcomes may vary. The overall health, specific fertility issues, and other factors can also influence the success of ICSI.
ICSI procedure step-by-step
Here is an Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure step by step:
- Preparation: The woman undergoing ICSI will typically receive hormonal medication to stimulate her ovaries and promote the development of multiple mature eggs. This involves daily injections for around 8-12 days.
- Egg retrieval: Once the eggs have matured, a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval is performed. The woman is given anesthesia, and a needle is inserted into the ovaries to collect the eggs, guided by ultrasound imaging.
- Sperm collection: On the same day as the egg retrieval, the male partner provides a semen sample. If the male partner has difficulty producing a sample, sperm may be obtained through other means, such as surgical extraction from the testicles.
- Sperm preparation: The sperm sample is processed in the laboratory to separate the motile and healthy sperm from the seminal fluid. This is typically done through a process called sperm washing.
- Injection: Using a specialized glass needle, a single sperm is selected and injected directly into an individual egg. This is done under a microscope, and the embryologist carefully maneuvers the sperm into the egg’s cytoplasm.
- Fertilization check: The embryologist monitors the injected eggs to assess fertilization. This is typically done around 16-20 hours after the injection. If fertilization is successful, the eggs will show signs of normal embryonic development.
- Embryo culture: The fertilized eggs, now called embryos, are cultured in the laboratory for a few days to allow them to develop further. The embryos are kept in a controlled environment with the necessary nutrients and conditions for growth.
- Embryo transfer: After a few days of culture, typically 3-5 days after the egg retrieval, one or more embryos are selected for transfer into the woman’s uterus. The doctor uses a thin catheter to carefully place the embryos into the uterus through the cervix.
- Pregnancy test: Approximately two weeks after the embryo transfer, a blood test is performed to determine if the woman is pregnant. This test measures the levels of the hormone hCG, which is produced by a developing embryo.