Sitting on the hard-backed plastic chairs with the buzz of the unnaturally bright lights above, you can’t believe you’re here in this moment. “The results are in,” the doctor says. Even though you know this is why you’ve come today, the word “results” takes your breath away. Your pulse quickens. A lump forms in your throat.The doctor knows.
They’ve done this far too many times. You look over to your spouse and grab their hand as you exchange brave smiles. Smiles that say “I love you” while knowing your world is never going to be the same from this moment on. The doctor waits as you collect yourself, clears their throat, and says the words you were afraid to hear.
“I’m sorry to say, you won’t be able to have any children.”
Tears fill your eyes. You look over at your spouse to see tears filling theirs as well. The words hang in the air like humidity on a hot summer day, almost as though you could reach out and touch them. The doctor continues. You’re only partially listening to the medical jargon as you try to process these words.
The doctor explains it all in layman’s terms for you, laying all the facts on the table as your head swims. While you knew there was a possibility this is what they’d say, you never imagined to find yourself among the millions of others who have faced infertility.
Parenthood has become much more medical than you ever wished it would. It seems impossible. Now you and your spouse must face decision after decision as you navigate the road toward parenthood in a different way.
If you or a loved one can relate to this situation, we hope this article about infertility treatment options will help.
Infertility Treatment Options for Couples
Those who have found themselves unable to become pregnant don’t have to give up on becoming parents. There are many different infertility treatment options available. Your counselor can help you with the decision for which option to pursue, if any.
Medical Procedures and Treatment
In some cases, medical infertility treatment may reverse infertility. This involves dietary, lifestyle, and other health changes. Sometimes surgery or medication is involved. There is no guarantee these approaches will reverse infertility, but they often do. A doctor can advise on what may be best for each situation.
This is, perhaps, the option that most often comes to couple’s minds. Adoption often resonates with Christian parents as a tangible way to grasp our relationship with God as God’s chosen and adopted children. Counseling through the adoption process and after placement has been found to be helpful for both adoptive parents and children.
Each adoption situation is unique and may take months to years. There are different factors and scenarios in adoption and most adoptions will involve more than one.
An adoption in which the adoptive child and family know who the biological parents are. The biological parents, at least the mother, may even be involved in selecting the adoptive family or placement may occur through a social worker. In newborn adoption, parents may be at the hospital for birth and involved for prenatal appointments.
Sometimes the biological parents become like an extra member of the family and may even be involved in holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Other times the adoptee communicates by letter or phone call on a rare occasion. Level of involvement and information given to the adoptive family is agreed upon by both parties and can be re-evaluated as time goes on.
This is an adoption in which the biological parents choose to not disclose who they are. In some cases, the biological parents make stipulations for when this information can be disclosed, such as when the adoptee reaches adulthood.
Sometimes basic information such as medical history and ethnicity are provided for adoptive parents to have as part of their records. In a closed adoption, an adoptee may still be able to find their biological parents through attorneys or private investigators once they reach adulthood.
This involves adopting a child from outside the country. These are most often closed, but may sometimes be open. In some cases, the adoptive parents travel to the country to bring the child home. In other cases, a social worker will bring the child home. Sometimes parents travel to an orphanage to get to know children there and see who they connect with to become a member of the family. International adoptions are often the most expensive and lengthy processes.
This involves adopting a child from the same country as you live in. These can be open or closed adoptions. The adoptee can be any age and may have come from a children’s home, foster care, or been relinquished by their biological parents. A domestic adoption can happen within your state or across state lines. Domestic adoption can also occur if the couple is adopting a child from someone they already have a relationship with.
This involves adopting a child from foster care. Sometimes this looks like a foster family adopting a child who has been in their placement. Other times it involves a family adopting a child out of the foster care system. Usually children are first placed in the home as a foster child while the adoption process is completed. These are most often, but not always, open adoptions to some degree.
This is the least common form of adoption. It involves adopting a family member, such as a niece or nephew. This is not often the route couples facing infertility take, but it warrants mentioning as an adoption scenario.
While this is not legal adoption, it makes the most sense to fall under this category. Foster care involves providing short-term care for a child, or children, but does not involve legally becoming their parents. Children may be placed in the home for a matter of hours or many months. The process is similar to adoption to become qualified. Couples faced with infertility often choose to become foster parents and nurture many children over the years.
In some areas, this falls under adoption as well. Surrogacy involves a woman who carries an infant through pregnancy but does not parent that infant. A surrogate most often has an embryo placed inside of her that was made from at least one cell (sperm or egg) from the parents. The other cell may come from a donor, relative, or the surrogate’s own egg, or both cells may have come from donors.
In some cases, the surrogate carries her own biological child which she and her partner have agreed to conceive for someone else to adopt. This always ends up being a form of adoption. Other types of surrogacy may require adoption, depending on the court overseeing the case, the surrogacy contract, and other factors.
IVF, Sperm or Egg Donor, IUI
These are all medical options involving pregnancy. Sometimes medications are used to help stimulate ovulation or support a healthy uterus in this process, too.
Sperm or Egg Donor
This involves using a sperm or egg from someone else. It can come from a donor bank or someone the couple knows. There are multiple ways in which these donor cells may be used to try for conception.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
This involves fertilizing a sperm and an egg outside of the body. The fertilized embryo (usually multiple embryos) are then inserted into the uterus. IVF often takes multiple attempts before pregnancy occurs. Multiple births, most often twins, are common with IVF. This is one of the most expensive options of infertility treatment.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
This is also known as artificial insemination. In this process, the doctor inserts sperm into the uterus around ovulation. The sperm used may be from the couple or a donor. Sometimes the sperm is frozen. IUI often takes multiple tries but is much less expensive than IVF.
Christian Couples Counseling for Infertility and Pursuing Parenthood
Infertility is a unique and complicated situation. While it is not a mental health diagnosis, there are often deep mental and emotional implications. Infertility in women and infertility in men both occur in millions of people worldwide.
Depression and anxiety are common after a diagnosis of infertility. Pressure and tension on marriages often increases. In many cases, couples struggle with communication or struggle with deciding what, if any, route towards parenthood they’d like to pursue.
If an individual faces infertility because of a previous trauma or abuse, then finding out how deep the implications are may be difficult. These are all excellent reasons to work with a counselor during infertility treatment and afterwards.
A counselor can help work through the mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and even some of the physical response and processing of infertility. Counseling can also help couples evaluate and make decisions on the options for parenthood. Couples will often choose to work with a counselor throughout the process and beyond.
If it’s one session or ongoing counseling, we are here to help you as you work through your infertility journey. Your counselor can be a trusted and helpful third party to navigate this uncharted territory. They’ll be there through decisions, waiting, and celebrating if you welcome a child into your home.
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