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Decision Fatigue and Infertility

A recent New York Times article posed the question “Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue“?  It went on to describe how making decision after decision can wear people down, sometimes resulting in poor choices or a different choice than may have been made with a fresh mind.

It reminded me of the overwhelming number of decisions that have to be made during an infertility journey, particularly the choices made during an IVF cycle.  By the end of the cycle, or end of the journey, are we making the same decisions we would have made when our minds were fresh (or maybe we were more naive)?

I think there is something to be said for the fact that some decisions should be made after a good night’s sleep.  Whether it is own egg or donor egg IVF, fresh cycle or frozen donor eggs or donor embryos, domestic clinic or international clinic, proven or unproven donor, how many embryos to transfer, whether to do PGD testing, what foods to eat or avoid, accupuncture or not, which type of progesterone, POAS or not?  The list feels like an endless number of decisions that have to be made.

By the end of a cycle  we’re on the rollercoaster of emotions hopped up on estrogen and progesterone (and maybe steroids or blood thinners) and that is when we are making these all important decisions – and then second guessing them over and over again.  It is no wonder that we are driving ourselves simply crazy with worry and “what ifs”.  And usually, that is when we gather our trusted friends and confidantes around us to talk us off of the cliff and help us hold on to hope or at least cautious optimism or neutrality.

Although not much can be done to lessen the number of hard choices to be made, I think we can be cognizant of identifying which choices will need to be made, and when – and what decision points or input will be necessary prior to making those decisions.  I think it is the last minute – “quick, decide now” types of decisions that are most often replayed over and over in our minds.  The ones where perhaps we felt unprepared, or caught off guard – those are the ones that often keep people awake at night wondering…..what if.

So, my advice is to know yourself (when you are at your best decision-making) and try to make the majority of the important decisions with a clear, fresh head and full stomach. Then, make sure you review with your clinic and doctor what decisions you will be asked to make, and when. That way you can be prepared, and maybe even have a chance to discuss it with your partner (if you have one) or trusted IVF friends in advance for additional input.  And lastly, trust your instincts.  Usually your gut will not steer you wrong.   And if all else fails and there is no one “right” answer, what always worked for me was asking myself “if things go wrong, which choice will I regret less”.

Happy decision-making.

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One Response to Decision Fatigue and Infertility

  1. Gyea says:

    This is great advice. I thought a lot up front about the decisions I’d need to make during my fertility treatments–from how many embryos to implant to what I’d do if I had higher order mulitiples (I, and my clinic, are very very conservative, but there was one time we had to explore the possibility of multiples, even though it was unlikely). I like to make informed decisions, so I did the research up front when I had a clear head, which made it easier during my cycles. Things might have come up that I didn’t expect, but I had done so much research and thought things through so well that most decisions came pretty easy to me. (You’d think there was no one else making decisions the way I’m writing, but I’m married. He never felt strongly opposed to anything and generally agreed with my thoughts.)