How to know when it is time to stop fertility treatment

How do you know when it’s time to stop pursuing fertility treatment. At what point do you call it quits and either mover to adoption or make peace with living child free? We received this question on the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group.

We are about to do an IUI, will do one more after that, then we have some big decisions to make, so I’m looking for some guidance.  If you could go back, would you do your fertility treatment just the same? (A little background: I have PCOS, TTC [trying to conceive] for 2.5 years, age 32, one miscarriage a year ago and nothing since).

When to Call it Quits with Infertility Treatment

Nothing is more personal than how you build your family. It involves issues as far ranging as your childhood dreams and your ideas of family, and includes the painfully mundane issue of money. And all of these issues are times two if you are married. There are no easy answers, but these are some of the things you should consider.

First Step

The first step is assessing your chances of success at treatment. Unfortunately, often you need to try treatment before you really know how you’ll respond, but your reproductive endocrinologist should be able to give you a clue based on your diagnosis and age.

Second Step

Money. How much will your health insurance cover? How much can you afford? How soon can you replenish your savings if you decide to adopt?

Third Step

How important is it to you and your partner to have a biological and/or genetic connection to your child? No shame, no guilt here. If having a child that shares your genes, or being pregnant, or controlling the pre-birth environment of your child is very important to you, then you probably need to move up the fertility treatment escalator if you can’t imagine life without a child.

Fourth Step

How hard do you need to try before you can move on without regrets, or at least minimized regrets?

Words of Wisdom from Those Who’ve Been There, Done That

  • We did 3 IUIs. One with oral meds only and two with oral meds and injections. I decided my body was done after the third. We have unexplained secondary infertility. We don’t protect still and just enjoy having sex when we want and are loving it — no more charts, timing, holding back so he can jerk into a cup and then can turkey baste me. I wouldn’t go back to treatments at all. We did do some counseling afterwards with a counselor who specialized in family building. The counseling helped a lot.
  • We realized for us that it was very important to try as hard as we could to have a biological child. I wanted to be pregnant and my husband wanted to have his genes passed on to our kids. When one treatment didn’t work, we saved some more, then tried a more involved treatment. It was right for us. We are now pregnant through egg donation and couldn’t be happier.
  • I had six miscarriages over 3+ years before we decided to adopt. I wish we would have started looking into adoption sooner and skipped all of the extra fertility testing (lots of money spent that could have gone toward adoption!) I’m at the point where I’m very excited to adopt and don’t think I’ll miss having biological kids. Family is family whether there are blood ties or not…at least, in my world.
  • We had unexplained infertility and our infertility doctor really couldn’t tell us what our chances were of getting pregnant. We agreed in advance to go through treatment all the way through 3 tries of IVF using my eggs. We succeeded on our second IVF. Next year, we’ll start trying again. We think we will do the same – go up to 3 IVFs then reassess.
  • It was very important to me not to end up destitute through this horrible journey. That being said, we had decent insurance coverage when we started this journey and used that for several tries, though it only covered 50%. My in-laws are the world’s best and kicked in some, and we paid the rest. We paid wholly out of pocket for two donor egg cycles that netted us nothing in the Czech Republic. I wouldn’t take any of it back, but it was just as emotionally exhausting as it was physically, and financially. Try to keep your whole being in perspective when you decide to change course. We are moving to foster to adopt after a year and a half of rest.
  • We did 6 IUIs and 2 IVFs. We were pregnant from the 3rd IUI and first IVF and miscarried both. Looking back I wished we hadn’t done the last 3 IUIs and switched to IVF. I feel like we lost so much time and money. We didn’t have any coverage and now it’s years later and we are still paying down our medical debt before another IVF cycle.
  • We tried IVF twice. Spent about $30,000. Insurance covered $0. Wish we wouldn’t moved to adoption after the 1st, but my infertility doctor felt confident we’d achieve a pregnancy on #2. We didn’t. The doctor suggested that we use donor egg on our next cycle. I said we were thinking about adoption. He strongly urged us not to adopt, which I thought was very inconsiderate! I definitely wish we tried IVF only once to have more money to adopt again after this adoption (we are matched with an expectant mom due soon!!)
  • I think that if you follow your gut throughout the entire process, whatever steps you take, you won’t have any regrets. We did 3 IUI’s of which none were successful, then an IVF that resulted in an identical twin pregnancy that we lost at the end of the 1st trimester. We soul-searched for months and decided to try one more time after which we would head the adoption route. We did and were successful and carried our beautiful little girl to term. We then tried for #2 with 2 frozen embryo transfers and were successful each time and lost both at the end of 1st trimester again. I’m SO thankful we persevered and we got our daughter and didn’t change course too soon, but now after our 3rd loss (4th baby), I can’t do it again.
  • We did 3 IUI’s and then moved to adoption. We were older so it was a choice between IVF (probably with donor eggs) and adoption. For us the reality was we wanted a child and rather than spend the money on the uncertainty of IVF with my 40yr old eggs, we adopted and are very happy.
  • I had 2 surgeries, one artificial insemination (IUI), and two failed IVFs. Although nothing worked, I have to say that I will never sit and wonder the what ifs. I grieve not having a child of my own yet because in all honesty that is truly my heart’s desire. I feel like now we need to make peace with never being parents, but at least we know we tried.

Other Creating a Family resources you will enjoy:

First published in 2014. Updated in 2016
Image credit: David Brown