PCOS, NK Cells and IVF – Rob’s Story

I am Rob, Hannah’s husband.

You might have noticed that this site doesn’t contain any stories from the mans/husbands/partners perspective. This could be for a number of reasons:

  1. generally men aren’t as open as women at rambling on endlessly about feelings and “stuff”.
  2. men feel the urge to be the strong one and to try and keep themselves together to support their partner.
  3. men have generally only heard of one Genesis and they haven’t been in the charts for about twenty years.
  4. we don’t want our mates to take the “mickey”.
  5. we can normally find something to fill our time on television.

While all of these can be applied to me it’s just lucky that I have a quiet day at work so I’m filling my afternoon before its time to go home!

When I started seeing the wonderful woman that is now my wife I hadn’t heard of PCOS never mind the symptoms and effects but this would all change over the coming months as we embarked on our adventure. As time passed I learnt of the various physical ways it can manifest itself and the effects this can have on a woman’s self-esteem.

Once we decided it was time to start working on creating a family I realised that we had opened up a whole new can of worms and had no idea of the cost emotionally, financially and in time and as the man in the process you certainly get the better deal with just a few test and samples to give compared to months of drugs and being prodded and probed relentlessly.

As it became apparent that drugs alone weren’t going to solve our problem we were referred to our nearest IVF clinic which involved a two hour trip to Liverpool which isn’t too bad if you’re having something done but starts to grate slightly when it’s just for a five minute chat with a consultant.

After months of drugs and all the relevant hormonal mood swings we were ready to go for our first attempt which had to be put on hold due to over stimulation so it was back to waiting while the little fellas sat in the freezer. Attempt two arrived and resulted in a negative result which was hard in many ways; not only do you have the disappointment to deal with but as all your family know what’s going on and they are just as excited as you are they are texting or calling at seven AM to hear the good (or not so good) news.

So back to the drawing board with more drugs and hormones and on to privately funded cycles so the previously mentioned two hour drive for a five minute appointment now cost £125!

After more failed cycles we finally got a positive result but the happiness was short lived as my wife started bleeding a few days later. This is hard as you do your best to reassure her that everything will be ok and when she speaks to the hospital they can’t really help other than to try to reassure her because as far as I can tell every pregnancy/woman is different and what happens for one doesn’t happen for another.  Anyway a few days later my wife had a miscarriage.

Words can’t explain the pain you feel when this happens and while my wife managed to get time off work to recover and gather her thoughts I was only able to get the odd day off here and there so while I was trying to do my best to support her I was only really around for the evenings and I would be gone before she got up in the morning.

Following on from this our consultant recommended doing a test for Natural killer cells again at great cost; something which you feel like you can’t refuse… What if it is NK cells? What if the next cycle doesn’t work but we could have done something about it? Do we want to risk another fail when this could fix it? Can we afford another cycle with no implant? Can we afford the drugs if we need them?

It’s a terrible way of looking at it but sometimes it feels like the private side of IVF makes its living by playing on desperate couple’s hopes and worst fears.

So after not much thought we embarked on a mock cycle which ended with a painful (not for me, I didn’t feel a thing) biopsy which revealed higher than normal NK cells.  From here we embarked on IV drugs to “treat” the condition before our last two embryos were implanted.

A few weeks later we nervously did the test to reveal a positive result and it looked like we had success until a few days later the bleeding started and led us down a familiar path to more pain and heartache.

Now we are about to start again creating fresh embryos for more attempts knowing that it is going to be a long, slow, tiring and potentially painful process but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

Through all of this I have learnt many things about PCOS, IVF and miscarriage. While none of those things directly physically affect the male in the partnership we feel the effects directly or indirectly of each one.

With PCOS my wife suffers in many ways and although the infertility is the biggest problem we have she struggles everyday with the way PCOS affects her appearance and no matter how many times I tell her she’s beautiful (until I’m blue in the face/feel like I’m banging my head against a wall) it still niggles at her and even when others don’t notice the effects it’s hard for her to accept that nobody notices.

IVF is a long drawn out process and as a man it can sometimes feel like you are slightly removed from the process as apart from making your “contribution” and the occasional visit to the hospital it can pretty much pass you by until implantation day. While you’re getting on with your day to day life your wife is busy taking pills, injecting herself and suffering all the hormonal fun and games that goes with it.

Miscarriage is something that statistically a lot of people experience either directly or unknowingly through friends or family and yet people either won’t or don’t want to talk about it leading to a feeling of isolation. While the world is full of professional organisations who can offer counselling sometimes couples who suffer a miscarriage could be surrounded by friends who have already suffered this terrible experience and can offer support to each other without it feeling like counselling or seeing a shrink.  It’s such a shame that you can have all the joy snatched away in what should be such a happy time and yet feel unable to talk about it in the same way you would if you lost somebody of any other age.


Rob’s wife, Hannah, will be cycling 107 miles in Tour de Mon www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HANNAH-MORGAN0182

You can read Hannah’s story here


If you would like to share your story email us at stories@genesisresearchtrust.com