WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
- Any woman who ever needs a transvaginal ultrasound.
- Women going through any sort of infertility treatment (IUI, IVF, you name it)
I am not a doctor. If I am going to bestow technical/medical information upon you, I want to ensure all information is accurate and thus I am going straight to the source. This post was a collaboration between myself and dear friend, Teresa. Teresa has been a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer for thirty years, she’s a pro.
On a personal side, Teresa is the gal who told me to come in for a check up. She started me on this journey and I am so incredibly grateful for all of the information she gave me each visit. Because of her care, I was empowered to read my ultrasounds at my new doctor and I feel confident I know what questions to ask each visit. She helped me learn the ropes and now she is here to help you! This post is a collaboration between us and it’s just the start. In the coming weeks we will have more about what questions to ask, what you see on the screen, and more.
You will have a transvaginal ultra sound most visits (along with blood work). You will visit the doctor A TON leading up to procedures (3-5 times a week) so its incredibly important you make buddy buddy with your sonographer. She (maybe a he) is going to be the first person who can deliver information to you. Side note:Buy (or make) them cookies.
The ultrasound gives the doctor a look at what the heck is going on inside of your ovaries and uterus. Your ovaries are the star of the show leading up to a retrieval. Your uterine lining is important if you are doing a fresh transfer (transfer just following a retrieval). During your ultrasound the sonographer measures your follices and your uterine lining. Both are important to help the doctor identify when its time for a retrieval or if your uterus is prime real estate for an embryo. If you are prepping for a frozen transfer, your uterine lining will be the main focus.
Unlike the movies (transducer probe) this ultrasound isn’t going across your belly. Instead, the probe goes inside your lady business and uses high frequency sound waves to create images of your pelvic anatomy. The images are projected onto a screen, you will see each follicle as well as the thickness of the lining. The sonographer is a pro at measuring each part of what they see, gives this data to the doctor, and the doctor decides how to proceed.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You will undress from the waste down, so wear something quick and easy to change in and out of. If you are wearing a tampon, take that out before (for obvious reasons :)). Also, go to the bathroom before hand, you will feel way more comfortable. You will lay back just like you are at the gyno and the sonographer will prep the device. They put a giant condom like thing on it with some gel. You can ask to insert it yourself (I recommend). Then you lay back and watch the screen!
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING AT?
This post is covering the basics so let’s start at the Antral Follicle Count (somtimes referred to as the resting follicles). Your follicles are the magical sacks inside of your ovaries that grow and house your eggs. This test does not measure the quality of the eggs (a whole other beast for another post), just the quantity of follicles. The doctor can presume that your follicles are growing eggs, however they don’t know for sure until they go in for the retrieval.
A high antral follicle count is associated with a higher risk for overstimulation and ovarian hyper stimulation (the absolute pits).
Teresa’s pointed out and its a great thing to remember, the antral follicle count is not a predictor of your ability to conceive.
I am sure you are THRILLED to head to the doctor after seeing that probe, hooray for IVF!