Deciding When Enough is Enough with IVF

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IVFThere are generally three categories of couples in the infertility world: those considering treatment; those actively engaged in treatment; and those who grudgingly realize that they’ve reached the end of the road and cease IVF treatment altogether in order to pursue a different path. Each comes with its own unique emotional gymnastics.

Deciding when to end IVF intervention is one of the toughest decisions any couple has to face.  Take it from one who knows. It was gut-wrenching and not without its share of misgivings. Who willingly wants to give up on a dream?

Sure there are no more pills, no more shots, no more trips to the lab, the RE clinic, the acupuncturist, the chiropractor or herbalist in search of measurements, advice, alignments, retrievals or transfers. No more errands to the drug store/pharmacy for basal body thermometers, ovulation or pregnancy kits or other devices aimed at preparing, monitoring or cajoling our bodies into performing.  Oddly those very unnatural activities gave us their own twisted sense of purpose and reward — we were after all engaged in doing something.

I was reminded once again reading one woman’s story Infertility Treatments – How Long Should You Persevere in the UK’s The Independent that even after we call it quits, the what ifs can still dog us.  Difficult as it was for us to put a halt to the science experiments it was the right decision for us.  As with anything related to infertility, each decision we make along the way is intensely personal. No one else can make them for us.  Among the issues the author, Carolyn Gallup, raises in this piece:

When should you stop treatment?

* Is your treatment pushing you apart as a couple?

* It’s a biological imperative – your body is urging you on, but you don’t have to keep obeying the order.

* Are you regarding all of your life as a failure, just because you are not being successful in this one respect?

* Are you doing this for each other, or are you doing it for your your partner? Keep talking and checking with each other. My husband kept “giving me permission” to stop, but I didn’t believe him.

* Are you satisfied that you’ve left no stone unturned and that 40 years down the line, you will feel you did everything you could while you had the opportunity? Write a letter to yourself, imaging how your life will be, just the two of you, or you on your own.

* Talk about what attracted you to each other in the beginning. Can you re-discover any of the pastimes you have lost as a result of the rigors of treatment? What will you be able to do if you stop treatment, which you would not have been able to do if you’d continued?

* Keep talking, no matter how difficult it becomes.

3 comments

  • Excellent points! I would also add: Listen to your entire body, not just your reproductive organs. Be aware of what other forces may be pushing you — guilt, especially.

    And the last is most important of all — keep talking.

  • Deathstar

    Thank you so much for letting me know about that article – I read it last night, emailed it to my husband and we had a terrific conversation about it this morning. It’s pretty close to our situation. It really helped us to talk about what we have been going through.