JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Katie Harley and her husband struggled with infertility for two years -- miscarrying four times -- before her husband suggested they see a specialist.
"I couldn't sleep at night knowing it was just unexplained. I couldn't go through it again knowing there's no medical reason this is happening to me," Harley said.
The Harleys went to Dr. Samuel Brown, the medical director of Brown Fertility, one of more than a dozen doctors in Jacksonville specializing in infertility.
Dr. Brown told Action News Jax reporter Letisha Bereola that demand has exploded over the last 10 years, and while that doesn't necessarily mean more couples are having trouble conceiving than in years past, it could just be that people are more willing to seek help.
"Back in the old days' infertility was kind of taboo, now it's just no big deal. It's OK. It's one out of eight women, one out of eight couples have infertility," said Dr. Brown.
Dr. Brown says he covers a lot of ground in the initial meetings with couples.
Harley and her husband had one of those meetings at his clinic.
"Being able to sit down and have that option to talk to him without making a commitment to do IVF or do IUI I think it's a big misconception with women — it definitely was with me," said Harley who paid her insurance copay for that conversation.
Dr. Brown says in some cases it's free and insurance is covering more types of fertility treatments.
"They get geared up for the big, aggressive, expensive things and say probably half our patients get pregnant on the simpler stuff," said Dr. Brown.
Dr. Brown eventually discovered Harley had a piece of tissue dividing her uterus in half keeping her from sustaining a pregnancy.
Harley had to have surgery to remove it.
Then they tried artificial insemination that can typically cost a couple about $400.
For the Harleys that was unsuccessful, but then they got pregnant with baby Charlotte — naturally.
"How affordable is treatment?" asked Bereola.
"That's a great point. You know it's one of the myths I have to dispel all the time. Patients come in thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, Dr. Brown, I can't afford this.' You'd be surprised. Insurance is covering this more and more," said Dr. Brown.
Dr. Brown says the most common infertility issues can include:
- Problems with ovulation.
- Endometriosis, which is a disorder where endometrium tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus.
- Age of a woman, usually over 40.
- 40% of the time it's an issue with the man's reproductive system.
"Don't you believe, my husband was the first to be checked!" said Harley.
Looking back Harley says she wouldn't change anything about her fertility journey.
"Because now I have her," she said.
Harley now hopes more families feel encouraged if they're feeling stuck to seek out a fertility doctor if they can they may get their breakthrough.