Opting for assisted reproduction was not an easy decision for me. I absolutely did not want to even consider anything like that, as I was convinced I was well and fully able to conceive a child, without any medical intervention. It took me almost 30 cycles to finally decide to go the assisted route, and this was because I had well and truly had enough.
Basically, I had reached the end of my tolerance limit. I had cracked, broken, call it whatever, I had gotten there. In my case, considering that I did have one functional tube, with decent ovarian function, I probably could have kept trying for longer and could possibly have gotten pregnant naturally….eventually. But with age 34 knocking, and almost 3 years of mechanical sex and countless heartbreaks later, I knew I could not go one further cycle on my own. So, that fateful cycle, as soon as my period came, after having one final cry, I scheduled an appointment with the first of many fertility clinics, and never looked back.
It could be a function of faith, individual tolerance level, or maybe even plain laziness. Whatever the deciding factor, it differs from couple to couple. I know a couple that started speaking with a fertility specialist 6 weeks after their wedding. They had actively been trying before they got married, so by the time of their wedding, they already had a red flag. I also know couples still dragging their feet after almost 10 years of trying. To some of the couples in the latter category, the acronyms IVF and IUI are foul curse words not to be even considered.
There are some couples whose religious beliefs prohibit such options. Frankly, I’m a firm believer in our God being a miracle working one. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. I know of so many couples that have conceived, naturally, when medical science seemed to conclude otherwise. A friend’s friend was able to conceive even after a botched appendicitis surgery destroyed almost all of one ovary, and left the other very damaged. She had just about resigned herself to fate when she got pregnant, seven years later. Yep, God still is in the business of performing miracles. That said, I also believe it is this same God that has blessed us mankind with the science of assisted reproduction. So opting for assistance is not a cop-out on one’s faith, but just trusting God to carry you through another route. If medical interventions like chemotherapy are readily acceptable for cancer treatment, I don’t see why there should be a different point of view for fertility treatments. I am Roman Catholic, and IVF is not a particularly happy topic in our fold. But as my hubby and I were not going to be destroying any of our embryos (the remaining of which are being kept frozen till we are ready), I was able to convince my very Catholic parents that it was a worth a go. And we’re all glad we took the chance.
For some other couples, it is not about religion. They just cannot fathom the idea of the process. I had a discussion with a friend the other day, and her jaw literally dropped to the floor when I started talking about the injections, and how I had to have my eggs harvested. She just could not comprehend! For her, it would be a far less harrowing experience to continue trying naturally, than to subject herself to the Dr-Who sounding shenanigans. However, couples that fall in this category soon come around, usually when their elastic limit breaks, and they have reached their own tolerance limit. You see, when a couple gets to this limit, even if it means getting on a spaceship and flying to Planet Mars to get their baby, they’ll do it. Okay, I kid. But you get my drift.
However, the most common deciding factor, unfortunately, is finance. A lot of the assisted reproduction chatter is amongst women who fall in the middle to upper class of society, for whom the typical pricing for such treatments (ranging from N100,000 and upwards, for IUI, and from about N1 million for IVF) is within reach. But infertility also afflicts the lower income members of our society, many of such couples have also been trying for a baby for years, and would like to be given the chance to decide whether or not to go for assisted reproduction. But, unfortunately, this is choice is out of their hands. It is heartbreaking to know that there are options, but that these options are not within one’s reach. One day soon, I would like to reach out and help women in this situation, as I think we should all be given a fair chance. The decision of whether to opt for assisted reproduction or not, is not one that should be made for you, least of all by such factors as finance.
In my opinion, these are the questions you need to ask yourself before considering assisted reproduction:
Am I ready for it?
You need to have arrived at that place where you are certain it is the right option for you, and not via any means of coercion. If you are not mentally bought into the idea, it is best to wait until such a time that you are.
Am I physically ready for it?
Apart from the necessary testing (HIV, Hepatitis, hormonal function, semen analysis, etc.), you need to ensure that your body is in a good physical condition to endure assisted reproduction. It is usually best to eat healthy and ramp up your exercise routine, to ensure that you are in good shape for this, sometimes, physically grueling journey.
Am I emotionally ready?
The truth of the matter is that assisted reproduction, IVF particularly, is not for the faint hearted. Before embarking on it, it is IMPERATIVE that you realize that success is not guaranteed. Odds are high that it might fail. It is critical to prepare for this possibility, as IUI/IVF failures can be particularly devastating. This is understandable, considering it is such an incredible build up, starting sometimes 6 clear weeks before the actual procedure, and culminating in a pregnancy test that could end up positive, or negative. Even though one should not plan for failure, one must be prepared for it. Expectations need to be managed. Also, the drug administration process can be just as emotionally tasking, involving self injecting, vaginal scans, etc. It is critical to be ready for about 2 to 6 weeks of shots, or even longer. If you are not sure you can scale this hurdle, it is perhaps best to wait until you can.
Am I financially ready?
Yep, finance again. Unfortunately, it is the cold reality. To be able to make this decision, we need to be true to ourselves and answer this question honestly. Before deciding on assisted reproduction, especially IVF, you need to be sure you can afford the procedure, from start to finish. I would suggest having enough funds for at least 2 cycles, so that if the 1st cycle fails, there will not be too much of a gap before the next fresh cycle, or a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). And even in the event of a successful cycle, you have to be sure to have enough funds to cover pregnancy related medical costs, childbirth, and child care. So yeah, you need to be financially ready.
If these questions can be honestly answered, and you, as a couple, have addressed any personal reservations you might have, you are well and truly ready to walk into your preferred fertility clinic to discuss your options.
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