When should you stop fertility treatment?

Article provided by NetDoctor.

For people going through IVF it can sometimes seem like there are babies and success stories everywhere. However the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which regulates assisted conception treatment in the UK states that for women under 35 the national average success rate for IVF is just 33%.

So even for ‘younger’ women that means that nearly 67 out of every hundred women either choose to undergo further treatment or explore other options.

For people who do choose to move on, there are many fulfilling alternative nurturing options such as donor conception, adoption, fostering, mentoring or taking on a more participative role with a child in your wider networks. But you don’t have to choose right away.

When is the right time to consider my treatment options?

This is a question I get asked a lot by people going through IVF. The reality is that there is no ‘right time’ to end IVF treatment and try something else, and to be wholly contradictory, any time can be the ‘right time’. For some the odds of success can feel too low or the financial pressures too high, but if the chances of success remain the same and the money is available, then making the decision to stop treatment can feel impossible.

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For people who feel like this I would say it signifies that you are not ready to make that decision. I would tell people to listen to their instincts, which sounds oversimplified but if a decision feels 51% or more ‘right’, then I believe we have the strength to cope with the ifs, buts and maybes.

Accessing support from the counsellor at your fertility clinic can help to manage the limbo time whilst you come to a decision that you are comfortable with. Talking with friends and family can sometimes be helpful, but try not to let their own thoughts or feelings weigh you down too much, as this can add to an already stressful situation. Objective support from your clinic counselling service should always be available for you.

Embryo selection for IVF light micrograph
Getty Science Photo Library – ZEPHYR

Coping with your decision

For most couples or individuals trying to conceive with assistance, beginning treatment means grieving the loss of the fantasy of conceiving naturally. When choosing not to pursue a certain type of treatment further, it’s natural to also grieve.

This can be the case for both primary and secondary infertility. We recognise that grief can bring on many emotions, and can often feel like a rollercoaster. The different stages to grief that people may experience include:

Shock, which can include fear and confusion as we cannot believe the situation we find ourselves in.
Anger, which can include anxiety, shame and embarrassment as it should not be like this, thoughts and feelings can be amplified if others see our discomfort.
Depression and detachment, as we begin to experience more holistically we can feel overwhelmed, depression is appropriate and detachment can help a situation to feel more manageable if we’re not exactly feeling part of it.
Dialogue and bargaining, where we have a chat inside our own heads internally, externally with other people, non-verbal communication plays a part too as does our intuition or ‘gut feel’
Acceptance, finding meaning to our situation, not necessarily happy with our situation, but accepting of it and managing.
Acknowledging the immense lows and highs and working through them with support, rather than battling with each emotion can create a smoother journey to acceptance of your situation.
Acceptance

Acceptance of your situation might mean that you are now exploring alternative parenting options. Or acceptance might mean focussing on you and self-nurturing.

Although at this time of year it can seem like the end of the road, we also have the opportunity to make a new start too. Sometimes it’s most important to just give yourself some time and space to explore the options available to you.