When Infertility Treatments Don’t Work

By OBOS Infertility Contributors | October 15, 2011

I’ve been working through my feelings over my failed procedure, over the probability that I will never be pregnant. .​ . . I​ am feeling really sad, very discouraged .​ . . angry,​ [and] frustrated at the fact that we did the best we could but hit another brick wall. I am really uncertain how to proceed. Does it make sense to put more money into a procedure with no guaranteed outcome? How will we feel if we do this one more time and [fail again]? Maybe I should cut my losses and proceed with adoption. On the other hand, I have been pursuing the dream of raising a birth child for a decade. I still deeply want to raise a child I give birth to. I may always wonder if I could have been successful on my second try.

If fertility treatments don’t succeed as you had hoped, you may feel extremely disappointed, angry, vulnerable, and desperate to try any intervention that offers a glimmer of hope. Some of us find ourselves, after every failed intervention, undergoing treatments that become increasingly physically invasive and emotionally debilitating.

If there’s always something more that you can do, it becomes a situation where you don’t even have control over when is enough.

On top of our own pain, many of us feel pressure from partners, family, friends, and colleagues to pursue more technically and socially complex treatments. This seemingly never-ending journey may lead some of us into a spiritual and ethical labyrinth that forces us to make quick rather than well-thought-out decisions concerning hormone therapy, IVF, donor egg, sperm and embryos, surrogacy, adoption, and living child-free.

Moving Forward

If treatments are unsuccessful, we face difficult decisions: Should we continue trying, pursue adoption or foster parenting, or make the decision to not raise children?

For many of us, adoption provides another path to having children.

Some of us decide—generally with a lot of grief and conflicted feelings—not to pursue parenthood.

The challenges of living child-free aren’t always easy, and there are definitely still ups and downs. But the downs are helped tremendously by realizing there is much more to life. I also feel blessed to have the support of my wonderful and loving husband and close and caring friends. Overall, I feel that I have grown as a person and can now face the future, whatever it holds.

As you decide on the next step, give yourself permission to be uncertain and cautious, change your mind, and grieve. Figuring out how to move forward is hard. But many of us find a way to live with the pain and disappointment of infertility and move on.

Our daughter is now four months old. We continue to heal from our six years of infertility and the loss of our son. I have come to believe that there will always be some pain associated with the battles we fought—and so often lost. At the same time, we love our daughter with all our hearts and we are happier than we have been in a very long time.