Fertility treatment is an emotional rollercoaster. Every new IVF cycle brings hope that it will be successful and will be the beginning of your new family. Advances in assisted reproductive technology have helped many people become parents who never would have been able to 20 or 30 years ago.
But what if you’ve been trying and it hasn’t worked for you? Despite the enormous advances that have been made in fertility treatment, not everyone will get pregnant. How do you know when “enough is enough,” and it’s time to stop treatment? If you’re just starting treatment, you may want to think about this as well, and decide what your limits are in advance. Here are some signs to consider.
Age is a Factor
If you’re over 40, your chances of success at IVF with your own eggs are much lower than those of a younger woman. Most fertility clinics have an upper age limit for IVF treatment with your own eggs at 42 to 45 years old. Donor eggs are commonly used until about age 49, although some clinics will provide treatment over age 50. Talk to your fertility specialist about the odds of continued treatment being successful.
Fertility Treatment is Affecting Your Health
Fertility drugs can cause a variety of reactions or even, rarely, serious complications. Mood swings are fairly common. Have you been through this multiple times? Are the symptoms getting worse? Is your quality of life affected? If so, maybe it’s time to stop treatment. Your health has to be most important, both for you and your partner.
You’re Running Out of Money
Fertility treatment can be expensive, especially if your health insurance does not cover much of the cost. If you are already in debt for fertility treatment and cannot afford another cycle, it may be time to stop. If you made a plan before starting treatment for how much you were willing and able to spend, and you have reached those limits, it may be time to stop as well. Remember why you made a financial plan initially. It’s too easy to say “one more cycle and we’ll quit,” while using up your savings or going further into debt.
Fertility Treatment is Harming Your Relationship With Your Partner
Is getting pregnant the only thing you are thinking and talking about? Have you stopped having sex just for fun? Is your partner saying it’s time to stop treatment, and you’re both stressed out and angry? Sometimes couples keep going with treatment just to avoid the facing the grief and loss that comes with realizing they won’t have a child together. If you feel your relationship is changing for the worse, get counseling and consider carefully whether to continue treatment or not.
You’re Really Depressed
We’re talking more than disappointment here. You’re showing signs of clinical depression: apathy, sleeplessness, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, fatigue, guilt, self-loathing, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, poor concentration and memory. This is as serious as any physical illness and must be treated immediately. Ask your fertility practice to recommend a counselor who has experience with infertility, so you will know that you are being clearly understood.
It’s best to talk things out with your partner and make a plan before starting fertility treatment. Finding a fertility specialist, deciding how to finance treatment, and agreeing on how far you’re willing to go spares you from making tough decisions on the fly.