Couples struggling to conceive typically spend about one year trying before they ever see a fertility specialist. Depending on what’s causing the couple’s infertility, it can be another six months to two years before they see any results – if at all. In the meantime, a couple can lay out tens of thousands of dollars, all betting on the hope that one day, they’ll be able to conceive.
This journey’s not for everyone. The fact is, it can be exhausting. Imagine a cycle of anticipation, hope, excitement, and disappointment that repeats itself every 28 days. It’s no wonder that many couples going through fertility troubles suffer from depression.
At some point, you will ask yourselves: “How far are we willing to take this?” The answer isn’t always the same for every couple (or even every individual).
Here are some tips on knowing when it might be time to jump off the fertility roller coaster and either consider other options or move on:
- Start by taking a break. One or two cycles away from fertility treatments (or even just counting the days of your monthly cycle) can give you a breather. It also gives you some time to think about where you want to go from here, without the constant pressure of a potential pregnancy staring you in the face.
- Take inventory. Look at how your infertility struggles have impacted you so far. How has it affected your time, emotional energy, relationship with your partner, and budget? How much more is the continued struggle likely to affect those areas of your life?
- Identify your options. After trying on your own and maybe going through a few cycles with fertility medications, you’ve got a big decision: do you pursue Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)? Procedures like IVF can be time-consuming and expensive. You need to know whether you have the resources to move forward.
- Recognize that you may stop before other people do. There’s nothing wrong with stopping short of fertility treatments. You may have religious or ethical convictions that get in the way of certain types of procedures, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might decide that the infertility struggle has already cost you too much in your relationship with your partner or other areas. Not everyone needs to, wants to, or should pursue further reproductive assistance.
When to quit
When you get into an IVF cycle, it’s pretty much the same thing as when you run out of money. Either you can’t face another torturous cycle of treatments, or you give up. How old your firstborn must be before you give her a little sister or brother is a choice only you make. It’s vital to set a timeline so that you don’t set yourself up for failure. How long should the timeline be?
If you’re feeling the urge to ask yourself this question, you’ve probably reached a point where you’re feeling desperate, and maybe you should take a break from your current situation to allow yourself to explore your feelings deeper and give your body and mind a rest.
There’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to fertility choices. It’s a process that every couple who struggles with infertility has to go through. The most important thing to keep in mind through the entire process is that your well-being: emotional, relational, financial, and physical, have to take guide your choices and help you determine your path.