This is Infertility is a bi-weekly podcast where we fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give you a new perspective on what it’s really like to go through a family building journey. Each episode dives into the emotional, physical, and financial burdens carried by those who experience infertility on their path to parenthood. Be it IVF, IUI, egg freezing, surrogacy, adoption, etc., the path is never the same and it can be long, painful, and lonely. It’s our mission to give those struggling a platform to be heard, a community connection, and an opportunity to raise awareness of the 1 in 8 who, for many reasons, struggle with infertility.

Episode 82: PCOS and Fertility: An early diagnosis, IUIs, IVF, and Baby Liv

It’s PCOS Awareness Month and for those who have PCOS, you may know firsthand how difficult it can be to conceive naturally.

Kayleigh and Steven Hajny always wanted to have a baby. But when Kayleigh was 16 and diagnosed with PCOS, she was set to believe this was a pipe dream that wouldn’t happen for her unless she did IVF.

So, they decided to go to a fertility specialist for help. What they didn’t expect was the number of treatments and the amount of disappointment they faced. After nine medicated timed intercourse cycles, a failed IUI attempt, and a miscarriage, their fertility coverage was starting to run thin. They were told IVF was the next best option, but there was only $7,000 left of their coverage. How were they supposed to afford this?

With luck, Steven’s employer, VMWare, announced they enhanced their fertility coverage by partnering with Progyny. This meant the Hajnys could move forward with IVF and didn’t have to worry about the financial roadblock. So, they did just that, and two rounds of IVF later, (spoiler alert) Miss Olivia Eloise was bought into this world.

We also hear from Dr. Ilan Tur-Kaspa of IHR Institute for Human Reproduction on PCOS.

Guests: Steven and Kayleigh Hajny, Progyny members; Dr. Ilan Tur-Kaspa, IHR Institute for Human Reproduction

Host: Julie Hunt

To learn how you can bring a comprehensive and inclusive fertility and family building benefit to your organization, visit Progyny’s Advocate page and start the conversation by talking to HR.

For more episodes on PCOS, check out:

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 thisisinfertility@progyny.com.

Here are some highlights from this episode:

PCOS Awareness Month and a Diagnosis as a Teenager
1:10 – 3:38

Julie Hunt: September is PCOS Awareness Month. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Symptoms vary from person to person, but what we can all agree on is that most of these symptoms aren’t very fun. They include things like menstrual irregularity, excess hair growth, acne, obesity, and of course, infertility. And believe it or not, PCOS is pretty common. Today we’re going to hear from Kayleigh and Steve who will share how they overcame a PCOS diagnosis to have their daughter.

Kayleigh Hajny: They found out that I had PCOS because I had a period at 14 years old. And then I hadn’t had anything until I was 16. Luckily, my doctor was pretty ahead of the curve. She did a lot of other testing and that’s when I was diagnosed with PCOS. So that doctor told me at 16 years old that I would probably need IVF to conceive.

The Journey to IVF
14:15 – 15:17

Kayleigh Hajny: And so my first cycle right out of the gate was medication and we got pregnant. Unfortunately, I miscarried at six weeks. So I was sent to an OBGYN and we kind of handled that. And as soon as we could, we got back to the medicated cycles. And I think that gave us a lot more hope because we said, great, this medication is going to work, we don’t have to go through anything else, we’re going to get pregnant again and this is going to be great. We’re going to have a baby and start a family! Unfortunately, we had eight more medicated cycles, and every single time they failed. So in the spring of 2018, we decided to try and IUI. Unfortunately, that also turned up negative.

Julie Hunt: Kayleigh and Steve had been through a lot. One pregnancy loss, nine medicated timed intercourse cycles, and a failed round of intrauterine insemination, which is often called IUI, or artificial insemination. It was looking like the next step was going to have to be IVF.

Financial Strain, then the Introduction to Progyny Through VMware
15:57 – 18:02

Julie Hunt: All of these treatments and all this disappointment was taking its toll on Kayleigh and Steve emotionally. But it was also all starting to really add up financially. The couple had insurance coverage for some fertility treatment, but the limited dollar cap maximum coverage for those treatments was quickly starting to run out.

Steven Hajny: I had basic work and a high deductible plan. They gave us a limit. I don’t know what the exact limit was but it was essentially like you have X amount of dollars that will be billed towards your insurance for things like the IUI.

Kayleigh Hajny: And if I remember correctly, I think we had like $15,000 to start with, for fertility stuff and I believe by the time that we ended 2018 going into 2019, we had $7,000 of that left. We would have had only $7,000 to go through an IVF cycle, which is not much.

Julie Hunt: When coverage is offered by an employer and when the employer chooses coverage that doesn’t really cover what the employees actually need, it becomes a waste of money for both the employer and the employee. Now, I could talk about this all day, but I’ll spare you because the good news is that Steve’s employer, VMware understood this concept and they switched their infertility coverage to a plan that would really work for people. A plan called Progyny. When employers step up like this, they’re making a statement about their cultural values and the kind of company that they really are. And VMware is a company that truly values in supports its employees.

Host

Julie Hunt, Director of Business Development at Progyny

Julie has been working in the fertility industry for the last seven years. She started her career as a Patient Care Advocate (PCA), a fertility specialist that helps a patient navigate through their fertility journey. Through her experience, Julie was able to expand her role within Progyny and transition into Business Development as a Manager. Today, she leverages her PCA experience and passion for helping individuals achieve their dreams of having a family by helping employers understand infertility and comprehensively cover fertility treatment as part of their healthcare benefit. Julie was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in March of 2018. As a proud sister of a gay brother, she passionately supports and empowers the LGBTQ+ community and is an avid advocate for inclusivity and equality.

Guests

Steven and Kayleigh Hajny, Progyny Members

Kayleigh and Steven Hajny are infertility advocates from New England. They first met in 2010 and married October 2014 on Wells beach. They always knew they wanted children but Kayleigh was told at an early age due to PCOS, she would be unable to have kids. There was hope after they fell pregnant after one medicated cycle but then they suffered a miscarriage at 6 weeks. After a year of more medicated cycles and one IUI, they decided IVF was their ultimate best plan of action. They started their IVF journey in December 2018. Thankfully, Steven’s employer (VMware) announced that they would be covering fertility benefits starting January 2019. Kayleigh left her job as a veterinary nurse to reduce stress and focus solely on trying to give them the child we dreamed of for so long. They went through one fresh cycle, resulting in five embryos, and one frozen transfer — both were unsuccessful. On their second frozen transfer, they finally got the news we were waiting for — they were pregnant! Kayleigh struggled with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes but overall, had a wonderful, happy pregnancy. Olivia Eloise was born Feb 21st, 2020 at 37 weeks. They would like to thank Progyny, WMware, and Boston IVF (The Maine Center), because, without them, Olivia wouldn’t be possible.

Having benefits like the ones they have through Progyny and VWware is the reason why they were able to bring Olivia into the world. They had complete coverage of pricey IVF medications, egg retrieval, and subsequent frozen transfers. An immense number of couples not only experience the crushing heartbreak of infertility, but they also have to figure out how to pay the financial side of not being able to start a family. Thankfully, there are companies like VMware that provide vital benefits Progyny!”

Dr. Ilan Tur-Kaspa, MD, FACOG, Founder & Medical Director of IHR

Dr. Ilan Tur-Kaspa is an internationally known specialist in Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, specializing in personalized advanced Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), reproductive imaging, oocyte freezing, and Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT). He is one of the world’s most experienced Reproductive Specialists involved in advanced IVF/ICSI treatment with PGT and in addition to thousands of ART treatments, he has personally conducted over two thousand IVF-PGT cycles for patients with single-gene disorders, chromosomal translocations, HLA matched child, and for aneuploidy.

Dr. Tur-Kaspa is the author and co-author of over a hundred scientific publications and book chapters. He serves as a Reviewer for the leading scientific journals in Reproductive Medicine, and is a co-Editor of the books on “Biotechnology of Human Reproduction” (2003) and “Ultrasound Imaging in Reproductive Medicine” (2014). Dr. Tur-Kaspa served as a Clinical Professor at the Department of OB/GYN, The University of Chicago, Chair of the Reproductive Imaging Special Interest Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and as the President of the Chicago Association of Reproductive Endocrinologists. He won the 2010 and 2015 “Star Award” of the ASRM for over 10 years of continuous scientific contributions in the field of Reproductive Medicine.

Dr. Tur-Kaspa believes that treating female and male infertility is a delicate and emotional process and all patients should get full support and attention from our staff together with the most personalized, successful and less-invasive treatment available. While referral is not mandatory in most cases, we would like to send you back to your physician as soon as possible, but this time it will be for prenatal care.

Music From This Episode:

Artist: Steve Combs
Track: To Move An Inch
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/

Artist: Jahzzar
Track: Bloom
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/

Artist: Monplaisir
Track: Four Years
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/

Artist: Mise Darling
Track: No One
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/

Artist: Meydan
Track: Underwater
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/