This is one of the commonest questions patients who have failed
an IVF cycle ask when they come to me for a second opinion.
Is it worth doing another IVF cycle? What should I change ? Do I need to do anymore
tests ? Should I expect to do three ? or four? How much stamina do I need? How much
will this deplete my bank balance? Will multiple IVF cycles damage my health ?
Sometimes, with a lot of patients, you know that repeating
the IVF treatment is futile, but many patients continue clutching at straws , because
they're not willing to accept the truth.
Often they read about some fancy new research ( either in
the newspaper or on a website ) which claims
to dramatically improve IVF pregnancy rates . They some with this newspaper
report or website printout, saying, "Can't you do this for me?" You
then have to do through the details , and often you end up explaining to them
that the research was done in a mouse laboratory, and has not been proven to be
safe to use in humans,
Then they come after a few weeks , with a full page colour
ad from a spanking new clinic that offers the "latest advanced technology"
- and ask - Should I go to them, since they seem to offer much more than you
False hope can be cruel, but hope springs eternal in the
breast , and if it wasn't for hope, none
of us would survive for too long. This is what makes things so difficult for
both patient and doctor - it's no fund having to explain the limitations of
modern technology to a patient who feels you have all the answers, and wants
you to deliver a miracle.
A good doctor would tell the patient the truth that,
"Look, a lot of these things which sound good on paper don't stand the
test of time . New is not always better, and it's not a good idea to use
yourself as a guinea pig."
However, patients need to make their decisions for
themselves, and if they want to try something new, unproven and experimental, it's
hard to stop them. After all, there is no medical risk when doing IVF - the risk
is predominantly financial and emotional. If patients understand that and are
still willing to go ahead, then perhaps a doctor should not stop them from
doing what gives them peace of mind, even if this is illusory.
However, one thing which patients forget to factor in is
the opportunity cost of doing repeated IVF cycles. After all, if you repeat the
same thing, you're mostly going to end up with the same outcome - there's no
logical reason for it to be different after you have done 4 IVF cycles .
The problem is that because you have locked yourself into
repeated IVF cycles, you end up stopping yourself from enjoying all the other pleasures
which life has to offer you. Also, this pig-headedness can stop you from
exploring alternative options , such as adoption or third party reproduction -
a decision which you may come to regret as you grow older.