If you have found out you can’t have children, or you have been trying to get pregnant for several months or years with no success, then we understand how disappointing and devastating it can be. And it’s important to know this is not your fault or anything to be ashamed of.
This is a hugely stressful and emotional time. It can also be a confusing time, as you try and look into alternative options to having your own baby.
For couples who can’t have children, the silver lining is that there are alternative options available.
Although it might not be the road you thought you’d have to go down, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And not being able to have children of your own isn’t the end of your dreams of building a beautiful and loving family.
Here are some options you can consider when you can’t have children.
7 Options When You Can’t Have Children
See a fertility specialist
The first step on your journey is to see a fertility doctor. Perhaps you’ve already been to see a gynecologist and you want to investigate your challenges further.
It’s important to have information to hand. Including the dates of your last six periods, any medications you and your partner take, any infertility risk factors you might have, and any unusual symptoms you might be experiencing (such as painful sex, irregular bleeding, etc.)
You will most likely undergo basic fertility testing such as blood work for women and semen analysis for men. Other tests include ultrasounds, an HSG, pelvic exam, and diagnostic laparoscopy.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious during this time, so make sure you ask as many questions as you can and get the support you need.
When a couple is dealing with fertility challenges, one of the first options to explore is taking fertility drugs. Based on your test results, your doctor might prescribe treatment such as Clomid, Femara, or Metformin. You might also be recommended to have surgical treatment.
Some lifestyle changes can also help increase your chances of conceiving along with treatment, including:
- Cutting back or stopping alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Gaining weight if you are underweight
- Changing your workout regime
Before making any changes to your lifestyle, it’s important that you speak to your doctor about them first.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the next step if fertility drugs don’t work out for you. There are several different procedures that your reproductive endocrinologist might suggest.
The most common of these include:
- In vitro fertilisation (IVF): when sperm and an egg are harvested from each partner (or a donor) and are combined in a lab. If the combination is successful, embryos are implanted into the woman’s uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): this is the option used when the man is experiencing infertility challenges. A single sperm is inserted into a harvested egg.
- Assisted hatching: a procedure that makes it easier for embryos to “hatch” before being implanted into the woman’s uterus.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): inserting sperm with seminal fluid removed directly into the uterine cavity.
As with any surgical procedure, it’s vital that you make the decision that is best for you and your partner, so take the time to research all the options and discuss them with your doctor.
Egg donation is the best treatment for women with age-related infertility. It’s also a good option for same-sex couples, if you’ve had past medical treatment that has led to infertility or if you have problems with your eggs.
The procedure involves a doctor removing a healthy egg (or eggs) from a donor or retrieving them from an egg bank. The eggs are fertilised in a laboratory and the embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Surrogacy is an option for couples where pregnancy cannot be sustained. You would select a woman who is both healthy and willing to carry your baby and give birth to them.
Many couples choose someone they know, while others work with a fertility clinic to select a suitable surrogate they’ve never met before. An embryo is either donated or created by the parents before being implanted into the surrogate’s uterus.
Adoption is where you become the legal parents of a non-biological child, and the rights of the birth parents are removed and transferred to you. It’s a wonderful way to build your family and give a vulnerable child a loving new home.
With adoption, there are children and young people of all ages who need new homes and families. From newborn babies up to older teenagers.
To adopt, you need to apply through an adoption agency, and there is a two-stage process that takes about six months to complete. If you are approved, the agency will try and match you with a child, followed by a few weeks of planned introductions. If everything is successful, the child will move into your home.
If you have tried fertility treatments and haven’t been successful, and you don’t want to go down the surrogacy or adoption road, then you might want to foster a child.
Fostering is an incredibly rewarding role, as you not only welcome a child into your home, but you’ll be giving a vulnerable child a safe, secure, and loving family. It’s also a prosperous career with many personal development opportunities.
If you’re wondering what age child should I foster, or can you pick the age of a foster child, then signing up and working with an independent fostering agency will give you the most options. There are children of all ages who desperately need loving homes where they can heal from their past and build a better future. A great agency will offer unconditional, round-the-clock support to ensure you feel listened to and any questions you have are answered.
What are the requirements to foster a child?
Another question a lot of potential foster parents have is what are the requirements to foster a child. There is a process you’ll need to follow, but as long as you’re over 21, have a spare room, and have the legal right to live and work in the UK then you already meet the initial requirements. Of course, you’ll also need to have some personal qualities such as empathy, compassion and resilience.
As fostering is a career, there are many other benefits including a generous allowance, which is there to help you give your foster child everything they need but also to reward you for your hard work and dedication.
Can you adopt a foster child?
The goal is always to reunite foster children with birth parents, if and when it’s considered safe to do so, however that doesn’t always happen. If you foster a child long-term, you may form a beautiful bond to the point where adoption makes sense. Although it is not always straightforward, adopting a foster child is possible. You’d need to speak with your foster agency and social workers about your intentions, as ultimately, it will come down to what’s best for the child.
Want to foster a child or learn more about fostering?
Not being able to have children biologically is a challenging time for anyone who longs to start a family. But now you’re aware of some of the options available when you can’t have children, you can start making plans to start the family you’ve always dreamed of.
And we’re here to help. If you want to learn more about becoming a foster parent or if you have any questions about the process, then download our guide Fostering 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Fostering a Child.
Or, get in touch with our friendly and supportive team who will gladly answer any questions you have.
Types of fostering
As no two children are the same, there are many different types of foster care.