Dr Margarete Sandelowski, Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has done some very exciting work in exploring how couples cope with their infertility. There are six patterns that she makes mention of.

Six Patterns

She observed that infertile couples tend to find that they are trapped in a maze of sorts and that they exhibit 6 different patterns while they try to find their way out this maze and  these are:

  • Sequential tracking
  • Backtracking
  • Getting stuck
  • Paralleling
  • Taking a break
  • Drawing the line

This particular research is such an apt description of infertile couple behavior, that it’s a shame it hasn’t received more exposure in infertility literature. I have made an attempt here to summarize her findings that she has described very vividly in her book- With child in mind: Studies of the personal encounter with infertility. (1993) Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

  • Sequential tracking- The "sequential tracking" pattern occurs when couples exhaust one of the options before they start on another, such as attempting a number of IVF cycles. When couples are looking through any medical treatment, they first try simpler and less-intrusive as well as less high-tech procedures and then move onto the more complex ones. While some moved onto the latter option quicker, others took longer and tried many simpler options before trying the complicated ones.
  • Backtracking- This is the second pattern in which couples  change their doctor and restart their diagnostic treatment plan and then move back to an option they had tried in the past. Sometimes this backtracking occurs when their doctor feels that the procedure done earlier hadn’t been done in the right manner. In some cases, a factor can change over time and backtracking can occur because of this too.
  • Getting stuck- Many patients feel they have reached a point of diminishing returns or they can’t afford more aggressive treatment options; despite this, because they still believe or are being encouraged by their doctors, they get stuck in a particular treatment groove and keep trying the same treatment over and over again.
  • Paralleling- In this pattern, patients try multiple options to attain parenthood. They are desperate to have a baby and want to reduce the wait period, by trying various options all at once.
  • Taking a break- This is the 5th pattern and there are a number of reasons why patients take a break. They feel they need to recover, re-assess their goals, and replenish their diminishing emotional, physical and financial reserves, to continue their pursuit of a child.
  • Drawing the Line – This is the sixth pattern and different couples draw the line at different points in their IVF treatment, depending on their personal psyche and circumstances.

What about you? Are you following an intelligent path in your pursuit of a child or are you stuck in a dysfunctional pursuit pattern? Use this research so you can find your own way out of the infertility maze!

Not happy with the attention you are getting from your IVF clinic? Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you!

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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