If you’re going through fertility treatment, chances are it’s happened to you.
I’m talking about the cancelled cycle. When your doctor or nurse calls you and tells you that you won’t be proceeding with treatment and have to sit out that month.
Cycles can be cancelled for lots of reasons. You could have ovarian cysts, your hormone levels might not be where your doctor is hoping for the best chances of a successful cycle, or you could be over- or under-responding to your medication.
Whatever the reason, when it happens it ‘s hard. You’ve endured the physical and emotional side effects of medication. You’ve gotten your hopes up for the cycle and then you find out you’re not even going to have a chance to try. It can be just disappointing or it can be completely devastating. It can be either a temporary setback or it can inch you closer to the end of your journey.
When it happened to me I realized for the first time that I had not only invested my money, I made a huge emotional investment into my treatment.
I had two cancelled cycles. The first one was early in my journey. I’d had two Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) procedures. The first had given me a positive pregnancy test but early testing showed the embryo wasn’t viable and I had my second miscarriage. The second IUI had been unsuccessful. What would have been the third cycle was cancelled because I had cysts and my hormone levels were crazy.
I wasn’t completely surprised, because I had been charting my basal body temperatures and my temperatures were all over the map leading up to the start of the cancelled cycle, which told me that my hormones were erratic. Even though it wasn’t a shock, I was still pretty upset when it happened. I felt like, great, my body is so broken down I can’t even handle basic fertility treatment – because IUI is a pretty basic treatment, and at that time I was only taking clomid, not injectable medication.
The second cancelled cycle came just last year. We were trying for our second child and had had two unsuccessful IUIs. On the third cycle I wasn’t responding to medication and my estrogen level, which should increase during the follicular phase of the cycle, was holding steady.
When this cycle was cancelled I knew in my heart that a second child wasn’t meant to be for us, and that my journey was over. Part of that grief process for me was accepting that my journey ended with a cancelled cycle, rather than a solid attempt at conception.
There are ways you can cope with a cancelled cycle, though. The suggestions below can help you can help you emerge from a cancelled cycle stronger and with greater resolve to continue on your journey.
- Look for the silver lining. A cancelled cycle is a setback, to be sure, but there are some positives that can come out of it. It can alert your doctor if you’re having issues with your medication and he can adjust your protocol. Or it can give you a break from treatment that you didn’t know you might have needed. After my first cancelled cycle, I had every intention of returning to treatment the following month, and it ended up being 3 months before I had my next IUI, and I truly believe that break was the turning point that led me to successfully conceiving my son.
- Use the waiting time wisely. Fertility treatment is a time when your self-care is utterly important. All of the things we talk about here at B-Method, like eating wisely, moving your body, sleeping well, managing your stress – those are all important throughout treatment, including when you’re waiting to restart after a cancelled cycle which can be a wonderful time of renewal. During my unexpected 3-month hiatus after my first cancelled cycle, I used the time to focus on myself. I took stock of my life, and began to make positive, lasting changes to my physical and emotional health that, I believe, led to my son’s conception. (read more about this here)
- Seek support. A cancelled cycle can be devastating and could be compared to mourning a loss, the loss of the chance to try and conceive that month. As with any loss, it’s important to get the support that you need. Your partner, family or best friend are great sources for support. If you don’t feel you can get the support that you need there, try finding a support group of other women who are also trying to conceive. Those women will undoubtedly be able to relate to what you’re going through and can be immense support for you. You can support them too!
- Try to see the big picture. Trying to conceive is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s easy to pin all your hopes and dreams on one cycle, especially if it seems to be going well before it’s cancelled. Try to remember that this cancelled cycle is just a blip on the radar screen of your overall journey. Next month will bring you a new cycle and renewed hope.
Have you had a cycle cancelled? How did it make you feel? How did you regroup and move on with your treatment? I’d love to hear from you – leave me a comment below!
Lots of love to you,
[Originally posted at B Fit, B Fertile on 7/22/16]