Is it Time To Stop Fertility Treatments?

Stopping Infertility Treatment: When Couples Disagree Stopping Infertility Treatment: When Couples Disagree

Have your finances run dry? Has the emotional weight of failed treatments become too much to bear? Are you wondering if it is time to take a break from fertility treatments? Dr. Marie Davidson, fertility counselor and psychologist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, encourages you to trust your intuition when you feel burned out on infertility. She recommends that you "have faith and know when it is time to stop and move on."

How to decide
Consider the following factors as you make your decision on whether to stop fertility treatments:

  • What you can afford
  • Your doctor's recommendations
  • Whether you can handle the discomfort, side effects, and mood symptoms that accompany fertility treatments
  • Whether you and your partner can handle the difficult emotions involved

If you're still stuck, check out five of the top issues that make couples question whether they should stop fertility treatment.

1) Your bank account has dried up
It may be ideal to plan a budget for your infertility journey before you begin, but what if you've already begun and are now close to broke? If this sounds familiar, sit down with a financial planner and consider your financing options. As you review possible treatments, discuss your personal chances for success and how the costs will impact your family. Financial strain, after all, is one of the top marital stressors. So choose wisely before your savings are gone, your credit cards are maxed out, and you are insurmountably stressed.

2) You and your doctor disagree
Many fertility doctors advise patients to try fertility treatments 2 to 3 times before proceeding to the next step. However, that may be more than you feel comfortable with: financially, emotionally, or physically. It is important that you and your partner only choose procedures that fit into your lifestyle. Consider costs, side effects, and their full impact before you start each new treatment. Also, instead of stopping altogether, you can always switch doctors if you are not perfectly happy with the one you have been working with. Another doctor may be more in tune with what you and your partner are seeking at this time. Check to see if there is an Attain Fertility clinic near you if you are thinking of making a switch.

3) Side effects have gotten the best of you
If fertility treatments cause side effects or moodiness that make you (and others around you) feel miserable, do you need a break? You may want to try as many fertility procedures as possible, but your body might not agree. If side effects are overwhelming, a temporary break offers you a chance to rest and regroup, allowing you to start treatments again when the time is right.

4) You have lost your balance
Your life did not go on hold when you started this fertility journey. Instead, you have had to manage appointments, injections, medicines, tests, and procedures, all while juggling a relationship, career, social life, hobbies, and possibly other children! And you wonder why you have trouble coping with infertility? While some couples become closer along the infertility journey, others become strained. Whether you decide to stop treatment or keep going, find infertility support online or through an infertility support group in your community. If you are burned out on infertility, see an individual counselor or meet with a couple's counselor. In therapy, you can think through your decision to stop or continue treatment, learning more about yourself along the way.

5) You feel out of control
Some women stop treatment to cope with infertility burnout. They reason, "If I stop now, I will feel more in control and it will be my choice to remain childless." If you do stop, avoid living with regrets. Ask yourself: 30 years from now, will I be OK that I stopped now? Was it an impulsive decision or did I fully think it through? Accept where you are and find peace with your decision. While you may not become pregnant, you do have options like surrogacy and adoption to help you build your family with the help of others. You also have the option to not pursue parenthood at this time.  Accept what comes and find peace within

If you decide to take a break from fertility treatments, let yourself fully mourn your loss. Stopping fertility treatments means giving up on the hopes of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. This grieving period can be intense and difficult. Give yourself enough time to breathe, feel, relax, and think things through with the support of your partner. Trust yourself and know that you will make the right choice.

Reviewed July 2011 by Psychologist Dr. Marie Davidson at the Fertility Centers of Illinois.