When Infertility is Big Business

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I was at the hospital today (just visiting, that is) and by the hospital pharmacy was a sign welcoming IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients and it reminded me of how much the “business” of infertility treatment irks me.

Back in the day when my husband and I first sought treatment for our infertility problems one of the best pieces of advice we got was to decide ahead of time how far we were willing to go with treatment. We took this advice very seriously and tried to look at the situation from all angles.

(Before I go on, I want to acknowledge how very personal these decisions are for couples. In what follows, I am simply describing what we chose and not trying to tell anyone else what they should decide.)

We made two important decisions up front:

  1. We wanted to address my overall health, not just make a baby. My infertility condition is part of a syndrome–meaning there are a variety of symptoms involved. In other words, infertility is not my only problem. Women with this syndrome, called Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are at greater risk than other women for developing a variety of complications as well. We wanted my treatment to deal with the PCOS on fronts other than the infertility issue.
  2. We did not want to do any treatment that would significantly increase the chance of multiple pregnancy. There is a progression of infertility treatments and the mildest options have very low incidence of multiples. We wanted to stay with the milder treatment options and were willing to accept not getting pregnant at all rather than risk multiples.

We’ve dealt with various doctors over the years with respect to my reproductive health. Most of them totally get our decisions and have respected them and worked with us within the parameters we have set.

But before we had our son there was one particular doctor who ignored our concerns about my overall health and pushed advanced reproductive treatments on us despite our objections. Pictures of babies–even multiples–lined this doctor’s bulletin boards while the expensive treatments lined the doctor’s pockets.

Meanwhile all the emotional ups and downs of treatment had left us weary. We were ready to revise decision #2 to be no treatment that involved shots or scheduled sex. We felt our marriage was on increasingly shaky grounds and we wanted most of all to preserve us.

People I know and love have had children through advanced types of infertility treatment. Babies are a gift, so I’m happy for them.

Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth when that particular doctor did not seem to care about our needs and values in the treatment process. The doctor just wanted to give us our little miracle even if that bundle of joy had to get sent to a broken home.

It was shortly after that appointment that we walked away from any treatment that wasn’t related to our decision #1. Consequently, I credit our decision to address my overall health with my eventual ability to conceive our son.

I know that infertility treatment can work. I also know it comes at great cost–both financially and emotionally. And while, of course, the couples that have successful treatments get the priceless gift of a baby, plenty of other couples go home with empty arms.

But either way, there’s big money in it for the professionals involved.

$o, of cour$e, welcome IVF patient$, we’re $o glad to $ee you.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Hermano Grande on May 24, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Yikes!
    This is a good reminder about knowing ahead of time who one is and what one values. So often in the heat of the moment when it hits the fan our true character is revealed.

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