Ever since I posted about my infertility a few years ago, I've been amazed and humbled at the many women who have commented about their own struggles. According to Wikipedia, one in seven couples have problems in conceiving a baby, which means there are a lot of us out there. Even so, it's easy to feel alone much of the time.
One question that came up a number of times from those who commented had to do with getting treatment for infertility problems. Should we seek medical help? What kinds are okay? Is it even biblical?
Those are good questions, but tough ones. While medical advances have made a lot of things possible, that doesn't necessarily mean all the options are biblically or morally right. But when you're filled with the longing for a baby, it's easy to try and justify your decisions for the end result.
My husband and I struggled with these decisions, just as many of you are. We prayed, searched the Scriptures, read books, took daily temperatures, made lifestyle changes—all in the ultimate quest for a baby. I certainly don't have all the answers as to what is right in seeking out infertility treatment, and I realize not everyone would fully agree with where we landed on this subject. I would simply encourage people to go to their Bibles for the answers and to lay this issue before the Lord in asking His guidance—after all, His thoughts are the only ones that really matter.
As you make decisions about infertility treatments, here are some basic principles to keep in mind:
It's okay to seek medical help.
First off, I believe it's totally legitimate for any couple that is having problems conceiving to seek out medical help. While the Bible doesn't specifically mention infertility treatments, it does talk about using medical treatments such as applying bandages (Isa. 1:6), oil (James 5:14), and oil and wine (Luke 10:34). The Bible also tells us that our bodies are God's temples (1 Cor. 3:16) and that we should take care of ourselves. Infertility often can be the symptom of a deeper medical problem, and it's important to get checked for your greater health.
Seeking medical help to have a baby can have a lot of repercussions—spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. You and your spouse need to decide together, with the Lord's guidance and leading, what treatments you'll seek and where you'll draw the line. (Seeking out wise counsel in relation to the biblical and spiritual implications of various treatments can be a helpful part of this process.) You need to be prepared, as best you can, for the rollercoaster of emotions this road can bring, as well as know that the majority of treatments and even tests to find out what's wrong will most likely not be covered by insurance.
Decide beforehand how far you'll go.
When my husband and I decided to seek treatment, we spent countless hours in prayer and discussion trying to discern God's will in this matter, which helped us decide which treatments we would pursue and which ones we would not—all before we even saw a doctor.
This made some decisions simpler down the road when we'd exhausted the possibilities we were comfortable with. We knew we were done, and the Lord's answer to having a baby at this time was a "no." It wasn't easy to hear that answer, but I did have peace in not seeking any more medical help.
Wait, wait, and wait some more.
Anyone who's struggled with infertility knows that waiting is par for the course. Unless you already know you have a problem that will make it difficult to conceive, you generally wait a year if you're under 34 to even start the process of trying to figure out what's wrong (six months if you're older than that). You wait to have a test; you wait for the results. You wait to schedule a treatment; you wait to find out if it worked and you're pregnant. But I want to encourage you to wait even more.
As you make your decisions, you need to pray, wait on the Lord, and not rush. Make sure you have the Lord's leading before you go ahead with infertility treatment, just as you would with any other decision in life. Believe me, I know how it feels to desperately want a baby and have the media and your mother/sister/best friend/doctor telling you that this is what you should do and you need to do it now before you get too much older. But you should ask yourself, Am I seeking this treatment because I know that's what God wants or am I so desperate to have a baby that I'll do whatever it takes?
Trust the Author of life.
Ultimately, no matter what treatment we do or do not seek, we need to remember that God is the Author of life—not a pill, not a procedure, and not any physician. God is the One who knits a child together in his mother's womb (Ps. 139:13–15). He is the One who will make His perfect will happen in your life, whether that includes a baby or not. And remember that ultimately, nothing and no one other than Christ can make us truly happy and fulfilled. He is the only One who can satisfy the deepest longings and fill the empty spaces of our hearts.
Here are a few resources that were helpful to my husband and me as we made decisions in this area:
- Water from the Rock: Finding God's Comfort in the Midst of Infertility by Becky Garrett, Donna Gibbs, and Phyllis Rabon
- Inconceivable by Shannon Woodward
- When the Cradle Is Empty: Answering Tough Questions about Infertility by John and Sylvia Van Regenmorter
- The Infertility Companion: Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility by Sandra Glahn, TH.M and William Cutrer, M.D
- Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility by Marlo Schalesky
- Stepping Stones—A Christian support group offered through Bethany Christian Services for couples facing infertility or pregnancy loss