Episode 175: Unexplained Infertility, Diminished Ovarian Reserve, and Switching Doctors
Struggling with disbelief, enduring back-to-back treatments, cancelled appointments, and an overwhelming emotional toll – these experiences are all part of Sonya Heer’s journey to building a family. How did she get here? Sonya and her husband embarked on what most couples do: they got married, spent some quality time together, and then wanted to expand their family. But, after months of not having success, Sonya turned to a specialist where she was diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This left Sonya with more questions, but she persevered and continued treatment. After more rounds, she realized there must be something else to her diagnosis.
In this episode, hear how Sonya navigated her journey, how she advocated for herself and found the right doctor, how unexplained infertility turned into diminished ovarian reserve, and why despite it all she continued. Sonya also shares the stress of paying for treatment and the difference when she gained access to a comprehensive family building benefit through her employer.
Guest: Sonya Heer, Progyny Member
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at email@example.com.
This episode is also a video! Watch it here:
Here are some highlights from this episode:
Beautiful & Frustrating — Unexplained Infertility
00:39 – 06:18
Sonya Heer: That beautiful, but also frustrating, unexplained infertility. At first, I was excited because there was nothing wrong. But the longer you are on that journey, you want something to solve. And that wasn’t the case at first.
Dan Bulger: Challenging as it was, the couple moved ahead with IVF. IVF is a treatment option for fertility that comes with very good success rates. And of course, the goal with any IVF cycle is to have a healthy baby. But IVF is also an opportunity for your doctor to learn a few things that they weren’t able to look into during the initial rounds of testing. During IVF, an unexplained infertility diagnosis might change into something else. In total, they did five rounds of IVF at that clinic, without any positive results.
Sonya Heer: I’m talking to my doctor, I’m like, at a breaking point, where do we go from here? I research there’s this clinic, that takes on a lot of very hard cases. So, I asked my doctor because at this point, we’re thinking I have diminished ovarian reserve. Because I don’t produce a lot. My quality is not great. He’s like, listen, I want you guys to have success, I don’t have any more tricks in my tool bag, see if they’re accepting patients.
When the Doctor Makes the Difference
06:21 – 08:03
Dan Bulger: Switching doctors in between rounds of IVF can sometimes be a bit inconvenient. And there are certainly instances where you really are better off staying with your doctor. Now that she was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, not unexplained infertility, it would increase her chances if she went to a clinic that specialized in diminished ovarian reserve. So, they switched to this new clinic for another round of IVF.
Sonya Heer: And it worked. And it’s kind of an unreal moment, like, I’ve never gotten that call before, you know, we’ve done six protocols. And that’s the first time we got that call. And we immediately Face Timed our parents, because the funny thing about IVF there’s no like, oh, we’ll do a like a reveal, you know, a timed like some sort of surprise, everyone’s waiting on that call. Everybody knows what you’ve been doing right. So, we told our parents right away.
Employers Who Invest in YOU
08:16 – 13:50
Sonya Heer: Then pen comes to paper, and you start paying for it, the stress goes up. Mentally, you know you’re doing it. But now we’re handing over the credit card. I remember leading up to the payment days, it was getting really stressful. I remember we had talked about how I would want to go back to where we had success, right? I don’t want to stay local. I don’t want to try different clinics, even local, I want to go where we know we have had success. And that’s more expensive than some local clinics.
I remember being pregnant at an HR Summit. And they were announcing some of the changes that were going to be happening in the next year to our benefits and that they were adding a fertility benefit. And I remember when this was being announced, I remember my director of recruiting at the time looking across the table at me. And we both smiled at each other because she knew what I had gone through. And I know that she was part of the discussions that brought in this benefit. And I remember thinking, this is awesome. And it was, they were amazing benefits. It wasn’t just, you know, a one-time lifetime, wherever you go. It’s the kind of coverage that I can’t even describe the message it sent to me as an employee on how Delta Dental was investing in me as a person. I actually, have told them this multiple times. Just because I am so thankful that they added this benefit for their employees, they truly, Delta Dental truly cares about their employees beyond work, their personal life, their family. And it’s one thing to say it, and it’s another to show it and to me, offering a unique benefit like this demonstrates their commitment to me as a person, having the ability to offer this to employees is incredible. It’s incredible.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Sonya Heer is an accomplished Talent Acquisition (TA) professional with 15 years of experience in the recruiting industry. Currently serving as the Talent Acquisition Operations Manager at Delta Dental, Sonya takes on the responsibility of implementing and maintaining recruiting tools and processes to enhance the effectiveness of the Talent Acquisition team. In this role, she oversees various essential functions, including background verification, partnering with internal teams for seamless onboarding, and monitoring systems for compliance. Sonya also plays a pivotal role in vendor management, ensuring productive partnerships that contribute to the overall success of the TA function.
Sonya holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Speech Communication, with a focus on Organizational Communication. Her educational background encompasses a wide range of skills and knowledge in effective communication strategies, leadership development, and organizational dynamics. Complementing her M.A., she also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, which provides her with a comprehensive understanding of business principles and practices. Sonya’s diverse educational foundation empowers her to approach talent acquisition and management from a well-rounded perspective, integrating her expertise in communication and organizational effectiveness with a strong business acumen.
Beyond her professional endeavors, Sonya is a Founding Board Member of the Stork Foundation for Infertility, an organization established in 2020 with a mission to provide hope and opportunity to individuals struggling with infertility. The Stork Foundation strives to eliminate the financial barrier between would-be parents and the medical infertility treatments they need. It’s about turning hope into reality, making the dream of parenthood not just a distant longing, but a tangible, achievable goal. The Stork Foundation for Infertility has achieved remarkable growth and impact since its inception by awarding 17 grants to date, providing over $175,000 in funds for infertility treatments. This support has resulted in the joyous arrival of seven Stork Babies, with four more due in the summer of 2023! Sonya’s deep-rooted passion for the Stork Foundation for Infertility originates from her personal experience with infertility. Sonya and her husband encountered numerous challenges on their path to parenthood, including multiple IVF cycles and treatments and the perplexing diagnosis of “Unexplained Infertility.” However, their unwavering persistence, the support of their loved ones, and the expertise of dedicated medical teams ultimately culminated in the joyous birth of their daughter in January 2019.
Sonya has personally experienced the profound impact of Delta Dental’s commitment to supporting employees’ family-building journeys. Delta Dental’s fertility benefit, offered through Progyny, played a pivotal role in Sonya’s success in expanding her family. The comprehensive fertility coverage provided by the company enabled Sonya and her husband to access advanced medical treatments and support, ultimately leading to the joyous arrival of their second child in 2021. Sonya deeply appreciates the value of such employee benefits and recognizes the transformative effect they can have on individuals and families facing the challenges of infertility.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Dave Keifer
Track: Wait Riot
Artist: Andy G Cohen
Track: Space Full
Track: Talk to Me
Track: Clap Your Hands