Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: I've tried everything to get pregnant, what should I do now?

"Many subfertile couples find themselves trapped in a longing for a child, which is combined with a certainty that there is a baby out there waiting to be born"

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The Independent Online

Dear Virginia,

I’m 30 and have been trying to get pregnant for five years now with no luck. We’ve done everything, and we’ve even been treated privately  – and it’s getting expensive. My partner thinks we should just forget about it and if something happens then fine, and if nothing does, fine. But I keep thinking it would be worth having one last attempt, even though we would have to get a second mortgage. All my friends are having children and I long for a baby. I know you’ve written about infertility. What would you advise?

Yours sincerely,


Virginia says...

The important thing is not whether you try again but that you have an overall plan – a plan that includes when, finally, to stop for good. As you are, you’re like a gambler – just one more throw, just one more, just one more.

Many subfertile couples (and don’t write yourself off as infertile yet) find themselves trapped in a longing for a child, which is combined with a certainty that there is a baby out there waiting to be born. It’s just a matter of constructing the right conduit to let it happen. With this view, it’s exceptionally hard to stop trying, ever. These couples are like children at one of those grabbing cranes in the fairground. It’s so hard not to believe that next time you’ll get the toy that you can’t bear not to have another go.

You’ve got this “one last attempt” firmly in your head right now, and I imagine it would be extremely difficult to let it go. I think you should say to him that this really will  be the last attempt. Write this promise down and give him the proof. Start looking at adoption agencies with him right now, this minute. Begin to make constructive plans about what you’re going to do when and if this one fails.

When I contributed to a book on fertility a while ago, there did seem to be some research that showed that once a couple had adopted a child, the chances of them getting pregnant increased. What was more interesting was that there was starting to be some evidence that showed that after the death  of a parent, the chances of becoming fertile also increased. All most peculiar.

As for the other mothers, I know from personal experience how easy it is to want to go with the flow and be like everyone else. And biologically we’re programmed to want children. But few of us really consider how selfish our desires are. Is this world a good one to bring a child into? Do you want the child for your sake or for its sake? Most children are a blessing but not all. Have you considered that, if you have love to give a child, that the most unselfish thing might be to adopt an unwanted child rather than create a new one?

These are not things that anyone wants to think about, least of all a childless young woman. But if you find you can’t have children after this final try, you might like to ponder on the bigger picture that so many parents (including myself) have tended, in the heat of the moment, to forget.

Virginia Ironside’s new book is ‘No! I Don’t need Reading Glasses!’ (Quercus £14.99)

Readers say...

Try for adoption

My husband was married to his first wife for nearly 15 years. For much of this time they tried to conceive. They adopted a baby and a couple of years later his wife became pregnant. He now has three sons, two conceived naturally. They had tried fertility treatment before they adopted but it put a huge strain on their relationship. When they finally adopted they were very happy. I’m not saying that adopting will make you conceive but it might be better than putting yourselves through all that heartbreak. The adoption process can be stressful but I don’t think it can be anywhere near as bad as the stress of fertility treatment.

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Believe it can happen

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was that women have periods for a reason and as long as you are menstruating you can get pregnant. As you have tried western medicine you might want to think about Chinese medicine. Herbs and acupuncture can dramatically increase your chances of getting pregnant. Focus on your diet, cut out caffeine and alcohol and take time out for you to relieve stress. Believe it can happen, the mind is a very powerful tool.


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Next week’s dilemma

Dear Virginia,

My niece, who’s six, comes to stay regularly with me. I have no children of my own and we’re very close. My sister,  her mother, broke up with my niece’s father six months ago and is still very bitter. It’s true, he did go off with another woman, but I don’t think he was entirely to blame. My sister loathes her ex and has been doing her best to turn her daughter against him, and only rarely allows him to visit, though he’s very keen to do so. But last week my niece came over and burst into tears and said how she misses him. Should I tell my sister?

Yours sincerely,