TTC: I quit!

Tonya Wertman and husband

when to give up trying to conceive

After months and months of shelling out thousands of dollars, spending hour after hour in your RE’s waiting room, undergoing countless treatments — only to be right back where you started — how do you know when it’s time to give up?

Quit, give up, bail out, let go... whatever you call it, when facing infertility month after month, year after year, it becomes the $25,000 (and then some) question: How do you know when it's time to quit?

When to quit

Do you give up when you run out of money or just can't face another tortuous IVF cycle? Is it when your firstborn reaches a certain age, or when you do? Should you give yourself a timeline and how long should it be?

I believe if you are at the point when you are asking yourself this question, you have reached a very desperate place and maybe you should consider taking a break to explore your feelings deeper and give your body and mind a rest.

"There is no magic number of years for trying, or IVF cycles,
or losses."

Coming to the decision to get off the infertility merry-go-round is an individual one and not only requires much discussion with your partner and support system, but also some true soul searching.

There is no magic number of years for trying, or IVF cycles, or losses. Each couple has their own pain threshold — what might be bearable for some will be too much for others. In other words, I don't think anyone really knows going in when it will be time to give up trying to conceive until they do.

Personally, I haven't reached that point yet but I believe if and when I ever do, it'll hit me like a ton of bricks and I'll just know in my heart that it's time to stop. Right now, however, the pain of stopping is way greater than the pain of continuing to try.

What other women say

I belong to several infertility groups on Facebook and each of the women in these groups has become a source of tremendous comfort and support to me. Because the groups are international, there's always someone online to answer a question or commiserate with. I recently posted the question: How do you know when it's time to quit?

Here is what I heard: 

"When you can't take it anymore," says Patty M. "It equals the stress, the treatments, the costs, etc. and it varies for everyone. But this is all very hard and we can't forget to live life while we have it and not always wait for what we want our lives to be."

Others have set specific limits to determine when they will stop. "Hubby and I set an age when we'll stop," Catherine T. explains. "Also, we are keeping our eye on the financials. If it reaches a certain point even before the age, we'll stop. We don't want to lose sight of life around us and forget all we do have to be thankful for."

Some couples are willing to try until they financially can't try anymore. "Financial! I don't care how emotionally drained I am, as long as I have money I will try!" says Stephanie R.

"When we have exhausted every option that is on our list... unless prior to that our hearts just can't take it, we shift or stop!" Lisa P. says.

When to stop trying to conceive is such a personal, emotional choice. "Our final decision was based on the emotional aspect," explains Renee H. "We had decided at the beginning that our last option would be IVF. If that didn't work, then we would be finished. We reached that point and it didn't work. For me, it was closure. I am at peace with it and am enjoying living without the stress and strain that infertility causes. We are planning on pursuing adoption at a later time."

Bottom line

Only you will know when enough is enough. If you decide you can’t or won't do this anymore, then embrace your decision and move forward with life and make it as rich and full as you can.

More about infertility

Holding on to hope during infertility
The infertile library
Infertility: With a little help from your friends


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Comments on "TTC: I quit!"

Mary February 15, 2013 | 6:10 PM

This is definitely an extremely personal decision that only you and your husband can make. I did notice a theme though - make sure to keep living your life.

Kristin February 13, 2013 | 9:42 AM

I can only imagine how difficult this decision would be - and how so very personal. You've articulated that so well here, Tonya.

A Lady in France February 13, 2013 | 8:46 AM

It's heartbreaking to go through this, which I only know vicariously through family and friends. Couples in France get a lot of financial support that we don't get in the US, but the emotional roller-coaster is the same everywhere. I have 2 adopted siblings, so before becoming a mom, I tossed out a quick (in my head) "Just adopt!" But now that I'm a mom, I know - I know that feeling, that longing to carry a child and breastfeed.

Natalie February 13, 2013 | 8:12 AM

I don't know if I ever would've stopped. It's such a personal decision, and one that I definitely think would take ages to make. So, so hard to say.

Lindsey February 12, 2013 | 8:25 AM

Great article! So many women deal with the prospect of having to give up on a dream long before they want to.

Kimberly February 11, 2013 | 7:52 PM

Such a hard decision. You're right though, only *you* will know when it is time for you to stop.

Laura February 11, 2013 | 7:32 PM

So hard. It sucks that this even has to be a discussion. It sucks that putting so much time and effort and money and emotions into this doesn't guarantee a baby. I'm sorry that people even have to come to this decision.

Greta February 11, 2013 | 6:42 PM

I just can't imagine what that is like, to wonder when to quit after such a struggle. But it must be so, so hard.

Jennifer February 11, 2013 | 5:10 PM

For us it was definitely when it got too much for me. I just couldn't handle the disappointment anymore. I do agree that it is a different time for everyone. It is a really hard decision.

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