Forget 16 and Pregnant; We Are Serodiscordant and Pregnant!
|August 13, 2013||Posted by Carly under Uncategorized|
What great news!!! James and I are having a baby! How did this happen? Is it safe? Am I now HIV positive? Or worse, the baby??
Thankfully, James and I did our research for a long time before making this decision; in other words, this baby was no accident! We have found that there are several ways for HIV serodiscordant couples (one positive, one negative) to have a baby of their own. One method is by artificial insemination using the HIV positive partner’s “washed sperm”. This is a technique known as sperm washing and is more like “assisted reproduction”. Sadly, sperm washing is bigger in Europe and not so big in the United States… YET. However, we did not end up using this method as there are only a few places in the US that do this, and it would have had to have been as part of a clinical trial, and involve several trips to the east coast (we live in California), yada yada yada, and it just didn’t seem like the best option for us personally, even though if worse came to worse and there was no other way to conceive, we would have tried this method.
We continued our search and found another method called “Timed Intercourse and PrEP” which can be done when the male partner is HIV positive. We researched and found that there were recent studies done where serodiscordant couples timed when they would have unprotected sex during the HIV negative female partner’s fertile window of ovulation. It sounded risky but the more we read, the safer we found it is. This method is only carried out if the HIV positive partner has an undetectable viral load to minimize transmission to the female, and for extra protection, the female must take a course of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis – a drug used when a person has been exposed to HIV to prevent transmission from occurring). The idea behind this method is that sperm washing is no longer appropriate or needed for those who are undetectable as they are not high risk.
The studies that we found concluded that timed intercourse with PrEP offered a safe solution for couples wanting to conceive naturally. So with this in mind, James and I discussed with our HIV specialist doctor about us trying this method. Our doctor was over the moon and was very much supportive and enthusiastic about us doing this. When I asked about the risk factor for me or the baby, he told me that because James is undetectable, there would be a one in 100,000 chance of transmission occurring to me, and when combined with me taking the PrEP, the risk would be one in a million (there is no risk to the baby as HIV in not actually inside the sperm cell and it can not cross the placenta between mother and child if the mother were to seroconvert). He told me he would love to say that the risk was zero, but it is as close to zero as it can be! That was good enough for me and James!
So with the doctor giving us his blessing, we sought out the PrEP. The study we found stated that the drug Truvada was used (an antiretroviral drug), and so that is what our doctor prescribed for me.
We knew that we would have to time the intercourse perfectly so I used a free website called www.fertilityfriend.com to track my cycle perfectly by taking my basal body temperature every morning as I woke (once you ovulate your temperature shoots u and stays up for the remainder of the cycle so it’s easy to see when ovulation has occurred by tracking your temperature), not to mention tracking the changes in my cervical fluid,(yes, guys, I’m sorry for the gruesome detail, but yes, girls, it’s so fun tracking the changes and knowing you’re getting close to your fertile window!) This was a fun experiment for me and I really got to know my own unique body patterns so much more.
By tracking my cycle to pinpoint exactly when I was due to ovulate (release an egg), and taking the PrEP for a week (the days leading up to ovulation and a day after), James and I successfully got pregnant first try! Hooray!
I am now 5 months pregnant and have been tested for HIV and I am still HIV negative! This method is safe and it worked for us! If you are interested in naturally conceiving as a serodiscordant couple please talk to your doctor about trying Timed Intercourse and PrEP! It worked for us, and we will use it again for baby number 2!
Please follow our journey and “like” this story to share it with others! It’s important to educate and inspire in order to change to face of HIV forever!