When is enough, enough?

When is enough, enough?

Deciding when it’s time to stop fertility treatment can be a complex and emotionally challenging decision.

Stopping fertility treatment is a very personal decision and determining when to stop is different for everyone. Getting to the point of stopping can be a journey in itself and there‘s no right or wrong way to get there. Here we look at the strategies patients often employ and what support our fertility counsellors can offer.


If you are thinking about stopping treatment you will probably consult with your fertility specialist who will take into consideration your specific medical history, fertility diagnosis, and treatment plan. However, you may also want to seek support from Julie or Emma, our qualified fertility counsellors. They can help not just with the decision to stop treatments, but also with coping strategies for how to manage your feelings in the months or years afterwards about whether this was the right decision.

Seeking support from a counsellor can provide you with valuable emotional, psychological, and relationship support during the decision-making process and can assist you in navigating the complexities of stopping fertility treatment in a healthy and supportive manner. The decision to stop can be emotionally taxing, as it may involve grief, loss, disappointment, and other complex emotions. A counsellor can provide a safe space to process these emotions and work through the psychological impact of stopping fertility treatment.

Our counsellors can also help clarify your thoughts, values, and priorities to assist in exploring the pros and cons of continuing or discontinuing treatment. Stopping fertility treatment can bring about significant changes in your life and may require adjustment to new realities. Having a counsellor who can help develop coping strategies and provide tools to manage the emotional and psychological challenges that may arise during this transition makes it a little bit easier.

Decisions about fertility treatment can also impact relationships, including the relationship between partners and even family and friends. Counselling can help you navigate potential conflicts or changes in relationships that may arise during this process.

As holistic fertility providers, we see counselling as a necessity. Therefore, all our patients and their partners have complimentary access to trained fertility counsellors.

Knowing when to stop

Here are some strategies employed by many patients when it comes to making this very difficult decision:

Once only

Some couples make the decision before commencing treatment to try IVF once only and if it works, great and if it doesn’t, they are content to live life without children and focus on other experiences in life. This hard limit caps the financial strain and being clear about not being beholden to the outcome can help reduce their stress and anxiety throughout the procedure.

For some people, knowing that the process is too physically and emotionally overwhelming to endure twice makes this the obvious choice. Additionally, knowing that you’re only undergoing the process once also means that you have closure when it’s over.

Nominating an endpoint

It can be very helpful to plan a timeframe. Commonly, we find that many patients choose an endpoint that is personally relevant to them before starting fertility treatment. This can be in the form of:

  • Amount of time (example: 2 years)
  • A date (example: by the end of next year)
  • Age or partner’s age (for example: “until my 40th birthday”)
  • Number of retrievals
  • Number of embryo transfers

It's important to note that deciding when to stop fertility treatment is highly individual and may vary from person to person.

Taking time off

Even the best-laid plans can require a change. Taking a break during the IVF process is a decision that some individuals or couples may choose to make if they are emotionally and physically exhausted.

The medications, injections, monitoring appointments, managing medication dosages, and other procedures can be stressful and overwhelming. The hormonal medications used in IVF can also have side effects, and the process itself can be physically draining.

Taking a break can allow individuals to give their bodies time to recover from the physical demands of the IVF process and replenish their energy. It also presents with it an opportunity to prioritise your emotional well-being and address any emotional exhaustion or distress you or your partner may be experiencing. It can be a time to rest, recharge, and focus on self-care. A discussion with your treating Doctor can help provide guidelines as to the amount of time you can take off without affecting future outcomes.

When it is dictating your life or impacting your relationship

Putting on hold plans to move house, change jobs, study, take a holiday or otherwise change your life because you are trying to get pregnant can become a red (or perhaps orange) flag. If fertility treatment is dictating your life, impacting your mental health or relationships, it's probably time to take steps to prioritise your well-being and address any challenges that may arise.

Treatment can be emotionally taxing for partners too, and taking a break can provide an opportunity to prioritise the relationship and strengthen the support system. It can allow individuals or couples to communicate, seek support, and be present for each other during a challenging time.

Trying to start a family can be an all-consuming process, but it's important to set boundaries and establish a balance between fertility treatment and other aspects of your life. Identify activities or hobbies that bring you joy and help you relax - and make time for them. Discuss and agree upon boundaries with your partner, such as designated times or days to focus on other aspects of your relationship.

When you can no longer afford to continue

Fertility treatments can be expensive, and the cost can accumulate over time. Realistically there may come a point where you have exhausted the financial resources you set aside for treatment. Financial strain and fertility treatments can take a toll on individuals and couples, impacting your emotional well-being.

It's important to note that the decision to stop fertility treatment due to financial constraints is deeply personal and can be a difficult one to make. It's crucial to have open and honest conversations with your healthcare providers, partner, and support systems to consider all the factors and make an informed decision that aligns with your physical, emotional, and financial well-being. Our counsellor at Flinders Fertility is available to help you with tools, strategies and mechanisms to cope with this.

Seek a second opinion

There are several reasons why you may want to seek a second opinion before stopping fertility treatment including a confirmation of diagnosis to ensure that you have been fully evaluated for all possible causes of infertility and to ensure that you have been offered all of your available treatment options and testing that could increase your chances of success.

Stopping fertility treatment prematurely can lead to feelings of regret or uncertainty later. A second opinion can help you make an informed decision and can provide you with additional information and peace of mind so please do speak to the Admin team at Flinders Fertility if you’d like to see another doctor for a second opinion.

Ultimately, seeking a second opinion before stopping fertility treatment can help ensure that you have explored all your options and made an informed decision about your care.

This is my last time. Maybe I’ll just try one more time.

Yes, it's absolutely okay to change your mind when it comes to fertility treatment. It is a very emotional and personal journey, and it's natural to have doubts or change your priorities along the way.

There are many reasons why someone may change their mind about fertility treatment, such as a change in financial situation, health concerns, relationship changes, or simply feeling overwhelmed with the process. And sometimes, you may have decided on an end date and are simply not ready to stop treatment when you get there. Whatever the reason may be, it's important to remember that you have the right to make decisions that feel right for you.

If you're considering changing your mind about fertility treatment, it's important to talk to your doctor and counsellor about your options. They can provide you with information and support to help you make an informed decision that is in line with your goals and values.

When your doctor is recommending that you stop

If your doctor is recommending that you stop fertility treatment, it's important to carefully consider their advice. Your doctor's recommendation is likely based on several factors, such as your age, medical history, and the results of any previous fertility treatment you may have undergone.

If your doctor determines that your chances of success with fertility treatment are low, it may not be worth continuing with treatment that is unlikely to result in a successful pregnancy. Fertility treatment can also be physically demanding and may pose risks to your health, such as the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) or multiple pregnancies. Additionally, fertility treatment can be emotionally taxing, and continuing with treatment that is unlikely to result in a successful pregnancy can be emotionally exhausting and may take a toll on your mental health.

Sometimes, stopping fertility treatment may allow you to explore other options for starting a family such as using fostering or adoption. Ultimately, the decision to stop fertility treatment should be made in consultation with your doctor, counsellor, or partner, and should be based on a careful consideration of the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of continued treatment.

When you have exhausted all your options

It's important to have realistic expectations about your chances of success with fertility treatment. Sometimes, despite best efforts, fertility treatment is not successful, and it becomes necessary to explore other options to start a family. While this can be difficult to accept it's important to remember stopping fertility treatment doesn't mean giving up on your dreams of starting a family. There are many paths to parenthood such as fostering adoption, surrogacy, or using donor gametes (eggs or sperm).

Alternatively, stopping fertility treatment may provide positive opportunities that you had not considered such as having the time to focus on other things such as your career or the freedom to travel.

Strategies for moving on

It is never easy to walk away from treatment and the dreams and plans you had hoped would result from it. There is no easy five-point plan for getting through this. It hurts. As with any grief you experience, there is no easy quick way to fix it. You will need time to heal and will probably always carry some scars and some regrets. Allow yourself this time. Allow yourself to grieve.

Grieving for an unborn child is complicated, as the loss is so intangible. It is a loss of possibilities. There is no body, no funeral, no ritual to mark this event. Others around you may not be sensitive to your loss or be unaware of what you are experiencing. Yet you may be experiencing grief as profound as that of a parent whose child has died. You are not exaggerating or overreacting. Allow yourself to acknowledge just what it is that you have lost.

If you would like to book a counselling appointment to discuss your feelings on continuing or stopping treatment please call us on 8155 5333.