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Whether you have completed your family or not, a diagnosis of infertility can deliver a devastating blow. How women work through this undoubtedly most difficult aspect of their early entry into menopause, is entirely personal. It is also important to bear in mind that it is a process and it may take some time to come to terms with your loss of fertility. Talking to a counsellor may help you wade through some of the emotions you may be experiencing. You may also find it helpful to speak with other women in the NZEM group who are facing, or have faced, a similar situation. We are here to listen if and when you feel you would like to talk with someone.

When you are ready to consider them however, it is also important to realise that you still have options available to you. It is critical that you have accurate and up to date information in this respect. Given that our own knowledge is based purely on personal experience we feel that it is best to direct you to relevant sites for considering the New Zealand options. Of course, your doctor or specialist will also be able to provide assistance regarding how the options apply to your specific circumstances. If you do not receive the guidance or assistance that you require, we encourage you to seek second opinions. A suitable member of our group would be happy to act as a support person if you are experiencing difficulties finding the help you need.

The following is a brief outline of the options available in New Zealand:

IVF

This section on IVF is written by one of our members who has personal experience of this most traumatic side of early menopause. As she mentions, it isn’t intended to replace advice from your health care specialists. It does however, give you some first hand knowledge of a potentially overwhelming aspect of an early onset of menopause.

As early menopause happens to women who still consider themselves in their “fertile years”, infertility can be one of the hardest issues to deal with. Even if you have completed your family or have no desire for one, it can still be difficult coming to terms with the fact that the choice has been taken away from you.

If you already have children and wish to increase your family, or you haven’t begun the process to create the family you desire, the only reliable method open to you now for experiencing pregnancy and child birth is IVF with donated eggs. This can be a long process.

Funding

First of all you have to find out if you qualify for publicly funded treatment or if you’ll have to pay for it yourself. At a cost of around $15,500 per cycle this is not easy for anyone. Your specialist will be able to tell you if you qualify for public funding. If you do, then you are entitled to one cycle. If that results in no children, then you get a second cycle. Should that one also fail, under current government policy you will have to start funding it yourself.

For more information about eligibility criteria follow this link.

Donors

Donors are preferred to be under 37 years of age and to have completed their family. Exceptions can be made for family and close friends. If you already have a donor, some clinics will allow you to get started with your first cycle as soon as your finances are sorted and everyone involved is ready. Others simply add you to the bottom of the list on a first come, first served basis. With publicly funded treatment you are allocated to a clinic. If you don’t already have a donor, the clinic can help you advertise for one. You can think about what sort of physical characteristics, personality traits, educational background etc. you’d prefer your ideal candidate to have. Once the advertisements are published, it’s a matter of waiting for someone to respond.

Cycles

A cycle is the whole process from when your donor starts taking the drugs right up to the fertilization of eggs. It takes about 4-6 weeks to complete. The donor is stimulated to produce as many eggs as possible without compromising her health. About two weeks before egg collection the recipient begins oestrogen tablets to prepare her uterus for embryo transfer. On egg collection day the donor undergoes a procedure to harvest the eggs. Sperm are added later and everyone waits for fertilization. The recipient begins progesterone pessaries to maintain the lining of the uterus. The average rate of fertilization is 60%. After a few days, the best looking embryo is transferred to the recipient’s uterus and the 2-week wait for the pregnancy blood test begins. This can be a wonderful time, but it has its stresses as you wait to find out if you’re pregnant. Use the clinic’s counseling services if you need them. Good quality spare embryos can be frozen for use at a later time.

This is meant only as a general overview of IVF using donated eggs. It leaves out a lot of detail, but your specialist will know where to get more information. Ask all the questions you need to ask. After all, you’re the client!

We have a number of women in our support group who have successfully completed IVF. To read Anita’s story, click on the following link: Anita’s story: Cancer of the Soul.

Adoption

In New Zealand, the process of adoption is managed by the government department, Child Youth & Family. This link will get you started.

Surrogacy

The following site is a great place to explore your options regarding surrogacy and establish if this is an option for you: www.surrogacy.co.nz/.

Remaining Childless

As we mentioned earlier, coming to terms with your loss of fertility so much earlier than expected can be very difficult. While some women explore all of the options available to have a child, other women may choose a different path. The situation of each woman is unique and of course so many things need to be considered. Some women choose to remain childless. For those not in a long term relationship, remaining childless may feel the only option. Others may choose to remain childless for other reasons. Many women I have spoken with tell me that there is often enormous pressure from friends and family to follow a certain path. Just remember, this is your decision (with your partner of course) and you need to do what is right for you.

Fertility