When you are having trouble trying to conceive (TTC) it can be a tough step - emotionally, physically and financially - to decide its time to try artificial reproductive technologies (ART), like IUI or IVF. Personally I didn't want to rush into IVF. I really thought that, given some time, we would succeed on our own. After all isn't reproduction the most natural thing for our bodies to do?
And for some people, it is (lucky things!!). But for many people, like us, it is definitely not.
So when is the right time to move from trying naturally to IUI or IVF?
Unfortunately there is no uniform answer to this question.
In my case the acceptance process took awhile. It was important to me to feel I tried every other avenue first. As time went on it was a case of "You name it I've probably done it":
- Naturopath? Check!
- Acupuncture? Check!
- Go Organic Food/Skincare/HouseCleaningProducts? Check!
- Stop Alcohol/Gluten/Dairy/Sugar/AnythingFunWithFlavour? Check!
- Yoga? Check!
- Meditation? Check!
And so on....
Did any of it help? Yes, definitely. I'm healthier than I've ever been...so why am I still not pregnant??
After over 12 months of TTC I could no longer ignore this question. All the basic testing that our GP could do said we were healthy people with no obvious signs as to WHY.
So we were referred to a Fertility Specialist.
Then amazingly, 14 months into our natural pregnancy quest, I was PREGNANT! We'd done it!! We were one of those mythical couples people tell you about who booked in with a Fertility Specialist and then got pregnant right before the appointment!
Sadly it wasn't to be, and the ectopic pregnancy meant that IVF was undeniably our most realistic chance going forward. After our second ectopic it became our only chance. I had to adjust my mindset and find a way feel positive about it.
So what advice do I have for those who are considering IUI/IVF?
- Explore all your options first! It’s a fine line between waiting too long to get to IVF and jumping in too early. Seeing a Fertility Specialist doesn't mean a direct line to IVF - there can be less invasive stepping-stones to try. A good specialist will take you through lots of tests and options that might uncover the hidden truth behind your fertility issues. Don’t compare your situation to others too much – what is right for them might not be for you. Gather the information you need to help you feel empowered in your decision, whatever it may be.
- Finding the right Fertility Specialist is key. Talk to your GP, friends in the same boat, go on forums to get some realistic advice - you are putting a lot of trust (and money) in their hands so you need to be comfortable with them.
- Still do all the natural conception stuff - the healthier you are the easier things like IVF will be. Diet and exercise are so important to quality and health of sperm and eggs - strong embryos are the goal.
- Give yourself some time and space to be comfortable about the decision to move to ART before launching into treatment. Being positive and letting go of negative emotions about it is important otherwise it will feel very overwhelming. Meditate, do yoga, listen to music, pro/con lists, talk about it - whatever helps you and your partner. You both need to feel it’s the right decision and timing.
What are some of the hesitations you had/are having about making the leap from natural TTC to ART? What advice would you offer to others in this situation?