|Ashley and Brandon Powell
Ashley Powell is 29, diagnosed with PCOS and she has exhausted most of her options trying to get pregnant.
Ashley ’s infertility story starts back at puberty. She had her first period at 13. But it took a full year before her next period arrived. Her menstrual cycles have always been erratic and painful. Powell typically had only 4-8 periods each year and they were extremely painful. In college she was diagnosed with Polycystic ovarian syndrome and referred to a gynecologist.
The doctor told her she might have trouble conceiving and that has been proven repeatedly. She married her husband Brandon in 2009 and they began trying to conceive immediately. Imagine having a health problem you knew how to solve, but the solution remained out of reach due to price. That’s the frustrating state of life for the Oshawa couple.
“We’ve been going to the fertility clinic from the time I was 25 years old. With the IUI’s and the injection medications, it has been nearly impossible to save any kind of lump sum amount for the IVF we need.”
Ashley’s husband’s sperm counts are just fine, despite a battle with testicular cancer and subsequent surgery. Because of these two factors, the Powells consulted fertility specialists early. They had planned to start their family young.
In vitro fertilization is the medically recommended treatment for the Powells, and for many who experience infertility, but in Ontario the cost can easily be $10,000 with medications. The couple can’t afford that. Instead, they have exhausted every single option that is funded by OHIP. They have done IUI, intra-uterine insemination, timed intercourse and recently surgery called Ovarian drilling, to no avail so far.
Because of the PCOS, she only ovulates a few times a year at most. During the recent surgery Ashley underwent, the doctor found that her Fallopian Tube had adhered to her uterus and twisted. Ashley says that may be due to scar tissue and the miscarriages they’ve suffered. Recent attempts to get pregnant were probably futile because the sperm was not getting through her Fallopian Tube.
Almost five years later and ten rounds of different treatments and the Powells are financially and emotionally exhausted by their infertility journey, plus they still have no children. They are desperate for help and ready to tell their story so others understand that infertility is a battle and a health condition that can often be remedied with IVF. They believe funding IVF is good health care policy.
Currently in Canada, the only province that funds IVF is Quebec. 1 in 6 Ontario couples struggle with infertility. 75 % of Ontarians support funding for IVF. Many patients here are advocating for Ontario to adopt a similar model to Quebec, or at least to consider cost sharing. Numerous countries in the world already fund in vitro fertilization. Australia is just one of those countries. Where IVF is funded and single embryo transfer is the standard protocol the rate of high risk multiple births drops dramatically saving health care costs resulting from lengthy stays in neo-natal care and maternal health issues.
In the last two years the Powells have found support from a patient group called Conceivable Dreams. The Ontario based group advocates for public funding for in vitro fertilization. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.
I am community manager for the group Conceivable Dreams. As such I am compensated. My opinion is all my own. An abbreviated version of this story appeared in Metro News this past week.