ADVICE & ANSWERS: Infertility Treatments

Here's the first of what I hope will be MANY interesting questions brought to you, the readers, by you, the readers:

My husband and I are in the midst of a struggle with unexplained infertility. We have had all the "easy" tests done and have stopped for now because the next steps become more invasive and expensive. We are considering adoption, although it will take time to save all the money. We have looked into foster to adopt and private adoption and are considering some options there.

My main question is about infertility testing and treatment. We believe the Lord opens and closes the womb. We believe that whatever options we pursue must be done in faith. We would move ahead with adoption by faith or move ahead with medical options, hoping the Lord would work that way, acknowledging him to be the one to open the womb. If I had cancer or some other illness of course I would try everything medically that I could. Infertility is another result of the fall, but it somehow seems different because it involves a life coming into being. I know we will take the path the Lord leads us on, but am interested in your thoughts. ~Anonymous

So, what say you, readers? Read her question carefully, and consider: What advice would you give? What would you tell a friend? What would be your answer if you were this woman's situation?

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Anonymous said...

Dear friend, I have been and am still right where you are—and I wish that I could tell you that I have a simple answer for you. The waters of infertility and treatments and adoption are murky with choices and options and advice! My husband and I both underwent the basic tests and were told that to proceed any further I would need to undergo a fairly basic surgery. We, too, stopped at that point, feeling overwhelmed by the advice and, honestly, pushiness of the physicians. I would advise you to find a physician, maybe in your church congregation, who is a believer, and talk with them. Dr. William Cutrer has written some books as an experienced OB/GYN and minister that concern this very topic. I have not personally read them, but they have been recommended to me, so I thought I’d pass them on. We are currently in the adoption process, which is also overwhelming, but exciting. We have been terrified by the financial aspect, but the Lord has provided for us in miraculous ways every time that we have needed large sums of money. My personal feeling, at least at this moment in time, is that I would rather spend money on adoption, which seems to be more certain, than on any infertility treatment, which has no guarantee. Sister, I will pray for you, because I know what an emotional roller-coaster you are on!

Sunydazy said...

I hesitate to post a response here...but I understand that this is a very personal and difficult decision.
I just want to share a couple of my observations.

1. I have a dear friend who was told that it was 'impossible' for she and her husband to have any more children...they have had 2 more in the years following...It just wasn't God's timing.

2. I am acquainted with and/or related to several couples who adopted children due to infertility reasons. Every single one of them became pregnant within a short time after adopting:-) Beautiful thing. I wonder if God had a special plan for the adopted children that might not have been adopted otherwise?

Just a couple of thoughts. My heart goes out to you in this difficult time. i'll pray for you. Blessings....

Christie said...

Dear Sister,

I have a friend that is enduring that same battle. From from what I can gather from her situation and the Holy Spirit's leading, anything that is humane and honoring to God as Creator could be good. Within those bounds, it seems to be a matter of Christian liberty.

Adoption and fostering are beautiful choices. There are so many children out there that need parents that love and cherish them. Secondly, I would encourage fertility treatments if done so in faith, trusting in the Lord to bring fruit.

I would encourage you, though, to know that the Lord hears your cry for children. He knows how this issue cuts to your core as a woman. This issue touches me deeply as well, and I am filled with compassion for you. May He answer your prayers as He did Hannah's and bless you abundantly! May your vats be overflowing with resources!

Blessings in Christ,

Anna S said...

While not married yet, and with no reason to suspect fertility problems, my fiance and I discussed this and thought of possible options for our future family, if we are ever to face such a situation.

We think we would do all the basic screening, and if there's a known medical condition, would do all we can to get help, as there can hardly be any debate about curing an illness. If it came to invasive procedures, however, we'd carefully evaluate our chances and our financial possibilities. IVF is out of bounds for us.

Both of us have had a wonderful opportunity to observe adopted children in our extended family, and see what a joy and blessing they are to their parents. Therefore both of us have very warm feeling towards adoption, and think it can be a wonderful experience of selfless and generous love.

Steph VG said...

My husband and I are at the same point - I am unable to have children, and we've begun talking about possible treatment. Something that has helped greatly in establishing Biblical boundaries in this is something I heard at a counseling conference last year:

Seeking treatment and medical intervention for infertility isn't wrong. Indeed, technology is one of many ways God has provided solutions to our earthly problems (ie, chemo for the cancer patient, etc.). However, there are ethical boundaries past which one must not go:

1.) We must not seek treatment that creates but does not use life. For instance, IVF is okay (possible financial stewardship issues, of course, but that's another matter) IF only embryos that will be immediately implanted are "created." Creating more for storage or possible implantation at a later date is unwise and even wrong.

2.) Any treatment that brings a third person "into the marriage," so to speak, is Biblically unethical. God created marriage, as we know, to be one man-one woman, not a man, a woman, and their surrogate. Not a man, a woman, and a donor egg or sperm.

Adoption, of course, doesn't fall into these categories because this is choosing to care for a life already created by someone else entirely. And of course, those who are in Christ have been adopted, grafted into God's family.

I don't know if that's really what you were looking for as far as thoughts, but those two things went a long way in clarifying some VERY muddy waters for us. I'm praying God gives you grace and wisdom as you seek His face to grow your family. God bless you!

amycornwell said...

I have had a similar experience as sunydazy. I close friend tried for 5 years to get pregnant (doctors told her she couldn't ovulate on her own), did various infertility options and also did allergy tests to see if it was something that she was eating/drinking. She even did acupuncture, trying anything that she could think of to become pregnant. The church prayed over her on one occasion during a service. They did IVF twice because they felt like that was what the Lord was leading them to do. They were not open to adoption after the first IVF. After the second IVF and thousands of dollars spent, they finally felt like God was telling them to adopt. They brought home a beautiful child from Guatemala and he celebrated his first birthday in May. This summer she called me telling me that she was pregnant. She was not on birth control since it didn't appear to be a necessity since she was told she couldn't ovulate. I truly believe that God allowed her to get pregnant and opened her womb because she was obedient in adopting their son. She is now due in November and still struggles with why God allowed it to happen this way, but they are obviously very excited.

No one can tell you what you should and shouldn't do. I've never been placed in this situation, but I definitely have seen first hand what this can do to a marriage and a woman who desperately wants to have a child. I am praying for you and your husband for wisdom.

Jess said...

What a wonderful set of posts, full of wisdom, experience, and advice! I've been so blessed just to read through and learn from the thoughts that have already been shared.

Thank you to you ladies who have shared so far!

Rebekah Miller said...

How my heart goes out to you as I was in your shoes five years ago and my sister is now. My parents were also told they would never conceive children, but then gave birth to three. I know this doesn't happen to everyone, but just be encouraged that God does open the womb.
In a society that is intent on preventing pregnancy, it seems perverse that Godly couples who want children struggle with infertility. Yet, as you said, it is God who opens and closes the womb and the sin of jealousy and bitterness can easily overcome and influence our decisions. I would advise a couple with infertility to first wait a period of six months to pray and research and seek guidance. This will gain you valuable time in the long run as you will avoid many unneccesary tests and discuss medical and adoptions options with your spouse without outside pressure. Fertility specialists' only goal is to get you pregnant and I know the pressure to undergo many treatments is great.
I agree %100 with the comments of the above poster concerning the Biblical guidlines to follow when deciding on medical treatments. I would also consider the financial implications in the treatments (which only have about a %10 success rate per treatment). If not careful, a couple could easily delay adoption options for years after exhausting medical treatment options.
Also consider that even if you do use all eggs in an IVF and a large multiple pregnancy occurs, there is a high possibility of risky pregnancy and premature birth.
All these are things I learned from research when we were trying to conceive. We were saving for treatment when I did conceive (Dr. was VERY surprised and so was I.) Looking back, I'm glad we had to wait, because I learned so much about God's character and loving hand on us through our difficulties. I've also learned to see my fertility as completely in God's hands. Using medical treatments or not, God is the one who gives us children.

Di said...

This isn't an answer to the question posted, but I just wanted to thank the ladies who have posted for being so loving and encouraging. I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks in June this year, and since then, 5 of my 'real-life' friends have become pregnant, and three of my tiny blog list have also become pregnant. I am struggling so much with my loss now, more so than when I first lost our baby, and in the really bad times, I wonder if I will ever hold a baby of my own. But the posts here are so uplifting and encouraging, I feel so much better for experiencing the love that is evident in these posts. They have renewed my faith in God, and encouraged me to trust him all the more. Thank you.

Meredith said...

My husband and I are doing Natural Family Planning - the Sympto-Thermal Method taught by the Couple to Couple League. (I know there is some controversy over using it to prevent conception, but that is not what this is about.) I would recommend all women to chart their cycles to know how there body works. There are many different charting methods - you can find one that fits you. I have found out, through charting, that the last phase of my cycle (the luteal phase) is not long enough to support a child if conceived. However, now knowing that, there are many simple ways that can be "fixed". If I had never charted... I would have never known! You may have already tried charting, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I pray that some of the wonderful advice given by others may encourage and give you hope.

Kara said...

To Di- My heart goes out to you...I don't know if this was your first pregnancy but my first pregnancy I had a miscarriage around 8 weeks. I really had to fight discouragement and a fear that I would never have babies. I started doing a Bible study about Jesus but it started out with the stories of Elizabeth and Mary finding out about their pregnancies. God really spoke to me through these and gave me such a was like He told me He KNOWS what a desire I have to have children and that I was to rest in that...For me I knew from that point that I somehow would "mother" some way. It didn't take us that long to get pregnant again and I now have two boys and look forward to welcoming more into our family.

Dealing with this loss is so different for everybody, I was pretty private about it and only wanted to talk about it with close friends at the time. One of the hardest things for me was seeing the young teenagers around town with babies....right or wrong on my part...that was hard to process after having lost a child. I will say that going through that experience was definitely an important part of my walk with Jesus, learning to lean on Him, trusting Him, giving Him my strongest desires. As I said before, my heart so goes out to you and my prayer for you is that the only One who gives real peace will comfort your heart in an awesome way.

Mrs. L said...

From personal experience I have these various thoughts to offer:

Yes, the Lord does indeed open and close the womb. In my case He took it altogether.

Private adoption was an option for us, as was international adoption. Because my husband is a native of Poland, that was the obvious choice for us. Adopting from the state was not an option because where I live you must do foster–to–adopt. Even working with a ‘Christian’ agency does not guarantee that we would get a believer who actually thought and acted like one. Case managers/agencies/licensing workers/etc have too much say over the lives of foster families. We are Christians and can not be unequally yoked to the state.

He put adoption on our hearts in 2000, but did not provide the funds to cover the expenses. We shelved the project to potentially revisit later. Sometimes His answer is not ‘no’, sometimes it’s just, ‘wait’.

A few years later (2005) He awoke that desire in us. In the last two years He has since managed funding (home equity loan and tax credits) and a myriad of other details as only He can. (We are leaving to pick up our sons in less than 3 weeks!) If you take this route, He’s not going to stretch and grow your belly, but rather your faith.

While infertility treatments were never something we had to research, I would encourage you also find a good ND. Naturopathic Doctors have non-invasive options that standard pharmaceutically-focused doctors do not.

While my two cents means nothing, remember that the Lord wants you to pray, pray, pray. Grown in Him, be faithful, watch for what He has to teach you. He’s there, He’s merciful, and His grace will abound.

Mrs. Brigham said...

My heart and prayers are with you, Anonymous.

My thoughts on this are similar to Anna's. I do have an auto-immune disease that could cause infertility in the future. My particular disorder has no known treatment other than diet, so I follow the diet and take care of my health in general. Other than treating my disorder and looking after my health, we would not look into fertility treatments of any sort. Regardless of being blessed with more biological children or not, my husband and I would love to adopt an older and/or special needs child at some point in the future, so if infertility is in our future, we would seek this option provided God presented the opportunity, of course.

Charley said...

If this has already been discussed, please excuse the post; I didn't read all the way through each answer.

As far as the expense of adoption...yes, it is extraordinarily expensive. BUT!!! There are ministries out there that will help with the expenses. You just need to find them. I know John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist, has two ministries: the MICAH Fund (helps with the adoption of children across racial lines) and the LYDIA Fund (helps with the adoption of children from international locations). I don't know if they help folks outside of their church, but they might have be a link to another ministry that does....

Infertility is a horribly painful reality in many a couple's lives. People may wait many years in futile attempts at medical technology...and thus miss out on the many blessings that could have been theirs through adoption. The process is rather lengthy the first if you are the least bit interested, you might start gathering information.

May the Lord strengthen you and bless you with generation upon generation of children!

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