More and more couples are turning to a procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a child. As Catholics, this is not a path that we agree with for a number of reasons which I won’t get into today.
I know why many couples choose this path. Our major health systems guide us to this path. Catholic Naprotechnology doctors are few and far between and hard to find. Catholic treatments aren’t typically covered under our health plans or company’s fertility benefits, and so they are all out of pocket costs which can add up. Lastly, the cross of not being able to have a child of our own is heavy and we don’t want to carry that burden.
But with all that said, I personally wouldn’t choose IVF for a few reasons (and for the record, these are my personal beliefs).
1) I don’t believe that having a child is a right I’m entitled to. It’s a gift from God.
2) God is the Creator of life and I am not. I am an instrument by which He brings forth life if He chooses.
3) IVF is not a root cause treatment. It doesn’t find the root cause of the problem. It merely gets the result.
4) If God chooses to not give me a child naturally, then He has another plan.
5) Many couples who had IVF often have a natural child later. Therefore, was it really necessary?
My goal here is not to judge those who have chosen this way of having a child, and in fact I have great empathy for those who have, but rather to share some insights I’ve learned along the way of the infertility journey which may suggest alternative paths.
- Investigate your hormones. The traditional fertility tests used by most doctors don’t always reveal the issues underlying the problem. Tests like DUTCH reveal more subtle issues. For example, many women are estrogen dominant in today’s society because of all the estrogens in our environment - like plastics. An easy fix for this is progesterone supplementation.
- Reduce your stress levels. Women today carry a lot more stress than years past. Our jobs and lives are far more stressful than they used to be. I’ve learned that the body won’t prioritize reproduction if it’s constantly fighting stress. Get your stress and mental health under control. Make choices that reduce stress in your life.
- Eat a clean diet. We live in a culture that drinks far more alcohol and caffeine than former generations on a daily basis and many studies have shown that these reduce fertility and/or cause miscarriages. Reduce your intake of these. In addition, watch the processed food you’re ingesting and clean up your diet with whole foods that nutritionally support your body
- Endometriosis is a common overlooked problem. One thing I learned on my infertility journey is that endometriosis is a common problem resulting in infertility. This surprised me. Press your doctor on this one if you’ve been through a bunch of tests and years of not being able to get pregnant.
My last piece of advice is to follow the Bible’s guide. The Bible gives us a few great examples of how to deal with infertility and they involve four things: 1) patience with God’s timing, 2) not resorting to our own ways of controlling the situation, 3) honest and emotional prayer, and 4) trust in God’s plan.
In each of these situations (e.g. Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth), God eventually brought forth naturally a special child who did great things for Him.
I take comfort in the fact that there was no medical intervention in these situations, instead just a lot of prayer and waiting even until older years.
I’m afraid that’s the spiritual lesson of infertility that more of us need to learn instead of resorting to controlling the outcome.