Part Two: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions
The first crossroads is likely to be when you decide to see the doctor because, despite your efforts, you have not conceived. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or culture, to expose their intimate life to the scrutiny of doctors or undergo blood tests and scans, checking for something wrong. Some uninformed men may be unwilling to provide a semen sample, for fear of what the results may suggest about his manliness.
Both the woman and man may feel some anxiety about whose family line may be to “blame” for their inability to become pregnant. If this pertains to you or your partner, you must cast these outdated stigmas aside and take some relatively simple tests to discover the cause of your infertility. If having a baby is your ultimate goal, your value system may have to adapt to accept the help that modern medicine and technology offer.
The second crossroads is deciding whether to pursue more invasive medical investigations and/or treatment. With a clear diagnosis and readily available treatment, it is easier to decide what to do because the options are more clearly set out. Your personal life may present the deciding factor: your relationship, finances, career, religion or emotional wellbeing may all be taken into consideration. Many couples have to contend with unexplained infertility, where early test results were ambiguous. If you (or your doctor) are operating in the dark, it wont do much for your confidence. In this case, the dilemma about which treatment to pursue may be decided by not knowing what else to do.
Whatever your decision, the most important factor is agreement between the partners, not only because cooperation, understanding and support are vital to keeping stress levels down, but also because it could mean the difference between having a genetic child or not. From the point that you choose assisted conception you enter a different world; one where your daily life centres on the fertility clinic. For working men, the clinical, inconvenient scheduling, financial and sexual aspects of trying to conceive while being treated, put them into unfamiliar territory and cause stress. Women will physically experience all of that, and possibly, mood swings, pain, invasive procedures and fear that time is running out as well.
The decision-making shifts to:
- Are you happy with the doctor/clinic you started with?
- Should you try less invasive treatment first, or go straight to IVF?
- Should we try complementary therapies before, or alongside, traditional medical treatment?
- How will you pay for your treatment?
- When should you begin treatment?
- Can this be managed around your work and/or other obligations?
- How many embryos do you want to implant?
- How many times will you undergo treatment?
These questions may have the two of you at a new crossroads every week. While some people may sail through and others agonize, its more likely that some decisions will bring up unexpected issues. Pay really close attention how you are both functioning. Your emotional state is important: Do either of you feel stressed, resentful, guilty, desperate, depressed, or hopeless? Is one of you leaning one way and the other in another direction? Are you fighting? That is where mutual respect, communication and agreement come into play.
Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause. Visit her blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or her website http://yourgreatlife.co.uk for more information. For coaching, email firstname.lastname@example.org