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Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Failure


a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, Apr. 16, 2010

If you’ve ever purchased a mutual fund, you know there’s one thing they remind you: “Past performance is no guarantee of future success.” When I meet with infertility patients, I tell them the same thing, but with one exception — I change “success” to “failure.” If you are going through infertility, please remember this: Past performance is no guarantee of future failure.

I meet so many intertility patients who tell me, “It’s never worked, so it's never going to work.” I understand why they feel this way. If you’ve never been pregnant, why would you believe that you will ever be pregnant? If you’ve had five miscarriages, what would make you think that next time might be different? If two IVF cycles haven’t yielded a pregnancy, why hope that the next one will?

Yes, there is a small sub-group of infertility patients who do believe past performance guarantees them future success. These include people who were “very fertile” at some point in their lives — they became pregnant when they didn’t want to or weren’t trying. Now sometimes 20 years later, as age-related fertility declines, they continue to see themselves as abundantly fertile. This can be as much of a problem as adopting the “past performance guarantees future failure” perspective.

Sure, there are things that might have happened to you in the past that are relevant to your chances of having a successful pregnancy now. For instance, women who have an “incompetent cervix” (I hate that expression), may need a cerclage in order to carry successfully. A woman who has miscarried a number of times may be instructed to take a baby aspirin or even a stronger blood thinner during pregnancy. This history shapes and improves your current treatment, but it doesn't mean it won't work this time around.

What I'm saying is, “There’s no time like the present.” Past “performance” may inform current decisions, but it doesn't guarantee success or failure this time around.

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