One in eight couples experience infertility. However, when it’s you it can feel incredibly isolating. Despite more recent developments like this great 1A episode on NPR, it’s not talked about enough. Moreover, there is still a lot of misinformation. Sadly, I have seen women give up on their journey based on poor information. Additionally, many people give up due to a lack of resources. There is no judgment on ending your fertility journey. However, I hate to see someone end their journey without having the right information and resources. Below, I discuss some “workarounds” for overcoming common obstacles in infertility treatment.
This is perhaps the biggest obstacle when seeking fertility treatment. It is not just the treatment you have to pay for. Other expenses include time off from work, medications, complementary treatments like acupuncture, and parking at your fertility center.
Some states now mandate insurance coverage of fertility treatment. However, even if you do not live in one of those states, your employer may still offer benefits. In fact, some people look for this when seeking employment. Before taking a job, ask to review all of the health benefits. If you are in a job you love but does not offer fertility benefits, ask your employer if they can add it. Carrot is a company that helps employers with this. Remember, if you are partnered, you may need to go onto your spouse’s plan.
Get a Covered (non Infertility) Diagnosis.
Many causes of infertility are basic medical conditions covered by insurance. Endometriosis, fibroids, and PCOS are common culprits. Whether you want children or not, they should be addressed. Insurance does always cover these conditions.
Find a New Job.
This may sound extreme but it could be worthwhile if it gets you a baby. I once met a woman who moved to my area to teach for a year because the school district here offers insurance that covers fertility treatment. She was able to stay with a relative for a very low cost. During this year, she managed three rounds of IVF. This was a small sacrifice for a lifetime of loving her child.
Our post Covid society has opened up lots of opportunities for remote work. Perhaps you can find a new job locally that offers good fertility benefits.
Fundraise for Infertility.
If you are fortunate enough to have parents with some disposable income, ask for help. Many grandparents like to start college funds for their grandchildren. Instead, ask them to help with fertility costs. Additionally, if anyone asks what you want for your birthday or Hanukkah/Christmas–be honest–request money towards fertility treatment. Obviously, you need to consider strongly how much you want to share and with whom. For instance, this could be a terrible idea if your in-laws equate money with control.
Take a Razor to Your Budget.
Now obviously, someone on medical assistance or living close to the poverty line will not have any room in their budget to cut. That is really tragic. However, if you are the average middle class couple, I challenge you to look at your expenses and budget. Should you “have” to make big financial sacrifices to have a family? Of course not, but the current reality is that you may need to. This could be anything from moving to a smaller, cheaper apartment to not eating out as much. Small cuts add up. For example, making your coffee at home can save you over $700 per year. Additionally, brown bagging your lunch 3 days a week could save $1440 per year ($30 X 48 weeks). That’s a combined annual savings of over $2000. If you and your partner are doing it, you are now at $4000 in savings.
I’m Too Old.
How old is too old to have a baby? I honestly don’t know. Nor do I think anyone can answer that universally because we are all individuals. That individuality includes the level of resources we have to help with the baby. For example, an older couple may have a lot of adult nieces and nephews who are happy to pitch in and help when needed. It also involves your expectations and preconceived notions around parenting.
Unfortunately, some fertility clinics do take a strong line on this. The workaround here is to find a new provider. You will most likely not be able to change a clinic’s existing policy. However, there are fertility clinics that have more flexible policies related to age to begin with.
I’m Too Fat for Infertility Treatment.
This is one that always gets me riled up. Like there isn’t enough fatphobia out there to begin with. Yes, some of the procedures done during fertility treatments are riskier in people in larger bodies. However, it does not mean they can not be done. It may mean they are done in a hospital setting. I strongly urge you to get a second opinion if you are told that you weigh too much for fertility treatment. This article explores it more thoroughly.
Trying to conceive can be an emotional and challenging time. This is especially true if you are encountering fertility challenges (AKA infertility). There can be many obstacles to family building. Typically cost is the number one obstacle couples or individuals with infertility face. However, age and weight can be factors as well. There are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to building your family. However, having the right information can guide you in the direction you want to go.
Do you need more support during your fertility journey? Reach out today. We specialize in all aspects of women’s mental health.
Sharon P. Fisher, PMHNP-BC, PMH-C is the founder of Nurtured Well, LLC and co-author of Beyond The Egg Timer: A Companion Guide For Having Babies in Your Mid-Thirties and Older.