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Making Fertility Treatment Choices

Tips for making fertility treatment choices

One of the most difficult choices facing patients is whether and when to move from one step of the fertility process to another. Agreeing to see a fertility specialist often involves much discussion and struggle. If one particular treatment does not result in a successful pregnancy, how do you decide what to do next? We have tips for making fertility treatment choices.

What to do when making fertility treatment choices

First, I encourage my patients to acknowledge the disappointment they experience when a specific course of action has not worked. The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These steps do not necessarily come in the order above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients. However, Kubler-Ross believes that a person will always experience at least two. Couples should be aware that they may experience grief differently from one another. They may also be at different stages in the process. Keeping an open line of communication is extremely important to minimize feelings of isolation, blame, guilt and depression.

At Texas Fertility Center, we encourage the couples we work with to schedule a time when both partners are available. The goal is to discuss their previous treatment and the recommendations for the next steps. Reviewing success rates, costs, risks and the time commitments of the options helps with making fertility treatment choices.

I often find that partners are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to their readiness and willingness to move forward. This is common. Most of us do not arrive at decisions in the same way or at the same time. However, when this happens, I usually recommend that the couple consider meeting with a mental health professional who specializes in treating people dealing with infertility. This person has access to tools that facilitate conflict resolution, compromise, and ultimately consensus decision-making.

Using eggs and sperm

In my practice, I think the most difficult decision for couples involves the use of an egg or sperm donor. The typical first response is “No, we don’t want to do that.” When this happens, I ask them to visualize their lives five years down the road. What do they see? Is it possible to be in a happy place with just the two of them? Does the vision of a childless family cause pain? The most critical part of this decision is being honest about priorities.

Sometimes, couples only want a child if the baby shares both of the parents’ genetics. If that is not possible, then their preference would be to remain childless. However, if the most important thing is to parent a child together, then it becomes an issue of making fertility treatment choices.

What do I mean by that? I ask the couple to think back to situations in their lives where they did not get their first choice. This could mean in a relationship or a job offer. How did that ultimately turn out? I use this example because I can personally think of several situations where I thought I would die if I did not get my first choice (and then I didn’t). Then, what happened next was better than I ever imagined my first choice would be. The children that result from treatments using donor eggs or sperm are the children that couple was meant to have. Maybe not what they would have chosen in the beginning, but what they can now not ever imagine living without.

My best advice to couples in the transition of treatment decision-making is to visualize their possibilities and look at the most effective way to make that happen. Contact us for more information.

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