Sunday, January 07, 2007

IVF and the fear of failure - what IVF patients can learn from entrepreneurs

Many infertile couples know that IVF represents their best chance of getting pregnant. However, many of them are scared of doing IVF, because of their fear of failure. They are afraid that the IVF cycle may fail, and they don't think they will be able to cope with this failure.

This fear is very similar to the fear many employees have when they think about becoming an entrepreneur and starting up their own company. Sure an IVF cycle can fail, just like a startup can. But if you don't make the attempt, you'll never succeed ! And what's the worst which can happen ? You may not succeed. But at least you have the peace of mind of knowing that you gave it your best shot !

And just like some people become excellent serial entrepreneurs, and find it much easier to start their next company, many infertile couples find it much easier to start their 2nd and 3rd IVF cycle because they have more realistic expectations !

Here are the lessons I feel infertile couples doing IVF can learn from entrepreneurs.

1. Be as well-informed as you can. Do your research , read books, check out websites, and meet doctors. Knowledge is power, and being curious and well-read will help you in your decision making process. You are the CEO – you need to ask for input, but you’ll need to make your decisions for yourself !

2. Build a great team. IVF is a complex process, which requires high-tech medical expertise as well as tender loving care. You cannot do this alone, and finding a doctor you are comfortable with is a very important decision you will need to make.

3. Doing IVF can be a lonely road and few people will understand what you are going through. Entrepreneurs are solitary beasts, who march to the tune of a different drummer – and you’ll find that few fertile couples can understand the angst you are going through. Trust your instincts !

4. Build a support network . This can often spell the difference between happiness and distress. You can find this in the real world – or online. Remember, that you are not alone – and others can help you along your path.
5. Make a plan – and be prepared to modify it. A “business plan “ can help you cope with the ups and downs of IVF. Failure is never final. You need to learn from it and move on. Learning to fail forward is key.

6. Yes, IVF is a risky enterprise. Just like most startups will fail, most IVF cycles will fail too. However, the rewards are worth it, so it's well worth making the effort Life can be unfair, and just like no one can predict which startup will succeed, and which won’t, the same uncertainty applies to IVF as well !

7. This is a well-kept secret, but the risks of not trying are actually far more than the risks of trying and failing. Build an an exit option. Know when to stop trying and to move on.

8. Have a backup plan. Life is unpredictable, and you never know where it will take you. If your cycle fails, what will you do next ? Just like all successful entrepreneurs need to plan for the possibility of failure, you need to do so too !

9. Be kind to yourself ! IVF can be very stressful – and you need to learn to look after yourself and your personal needs. A startup can be as demanding as an IVF cycle, but if you don’t look after yourself, no one else will do so – and you need to be in good shape, both mentally and physically, to be able to give it your best !

10. Being an entrepreneur, just like being infertile, changes you as a person. It tests your resilience and your character - and can bring out the best in you - and the worst as well.
There will be major ups and downs - but the ride can be very exciting ! You need nerves of steel, and the heart of a lion. Outcomes are always uncertain, when you start a company or an IVF cycle, but the process should always be a positive one !

And finally,

11. Find funding. It's an expensive proposition , so make sure you don't run out of
money !


  1. Anonymous5:11 AM

    Wouldn't it be better to adopt a child without parents and help pick up society's slack rather than creating more when nature deems they shouldn't be able to?

    Pro Solution

  2. This is a good post and so much of it rings true. IVF (and all of ART) is very stressful and these are all very valid concerns to keep in mind.

    In response to anonymous -- if only it was that easy. There is no such thing as "just adopt" as many people seem to think.

    Adoption is VERY costly (much more so than IVF) and it takes a lot longer. Also there are a lot of factors that can't be controlled with adoption that can be controlled with IVF (genes, mothers exposure to drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, mothers prenatal care and diet -- just to name a few).

    Adoption is definitely an option for me but I want to try with my own body to have my own child first.

    So while IVF is complex and may not be your choice, adoption is very complex as well and may not be everyones choice.

  3. Anonymous5:55 PM

    What is your recommendation(s) if both IVF and adoption fail?

    We have three failed IVF cycles, all ending in cancellation due to poor response and even (7) failed adoptions.

  4. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Prayer is THE best option. It waorked for us after 6 years of treatments including IVFs and surrogacy! Have faith.


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