#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF & Booming Baby Business

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF & Booming Baby Business

Published
Fit
6 min read
Fertility declines, in some cases more rapidly than others & fertility clinics sell hopes in packages while cherry picking the successful results.

At 36, the last thing Shweta expected was to spread her legs in stirrups for some technician to prick and poke her privates with needles and tubes in ways considered unimaginable.

After several miscarriages, more than 50 hormone injections, two invasive procedures, and over 15 months of emotional and physical slog, this Mumbai girl, now a Hong Konger, worries if she waited too long. She spent the early years of her marriage doing her darndest not to get pregnant and then when at 34, she started trying for a family, nature refused to cooperate.

Fertility declines, in some cases more rapidly than others. But there’s been a rise in the number of fertility clinics that sell hope in packages while cherry picking the successful results.

Like nature, technology is unforeseeable. So it’s important to understand what you are getting into and make an informed choice.

IVF Clinics Oversell Fertility Fantasies

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility.

Since 1978, more than 5 million babies across the world were born via IVF. Remarkable, right? But technology has failed more than 20 million women worldwide in the same four decades!

There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility but data from Europe finds that for every 15 lakh IVF cycles, only 3.5 lakh result in a live birth. That’s a global fail rate of 77 percent. (Source: Journal European Society of Human Reproduction)

Contrast this with the success results plastered in many popular IVF clinics in your city – exaggerated and highly misleading. Clearly, vulnerable, weary, desperate couples are being misled by the industry which weeds out failures and combs and constructs data to paint a meaningless, false picture. 

A complete lack of IVF laws in India mean that clinics are free to do so.

Is 35 a Fertility Cliff?

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
Fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so.

Time is a slow killer, it’s dreadful and one day will kill us all but when it comes to making children, the panic linked to it is highly overblown.

Popular literature which marks 35 as a plunging year for fertility is heavily based on a study published in the 2004 medical journal, Human Reproduction, which found that without medical aid, 75 percent of 30-year-olds get pregnant within a year of trying, compared with 66 percent of 35-year-olds, while the odds for 40-year-olds stand at 44%. Alarming, right? 

Now the snag – the data on which this study is based comes from 17th century French church records!

17th century was centuries ago!

I KNOW!? No BIGGIE!

That said, fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so – but if you’re not, then what help are centuries old, archaic statistics?  

When Is IVF Most Successful?

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years.

Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years. So when is the right time to enter the assisted reproduction clinic?

Not All Embryos Will Survive the Ice Age

Egg freezing is fascinating in theory, especially for cancer patients where the treatment jeopardises fertility. But these advances come with limitations.

Large-scale studies done by the New York University have found only a 15 percent success rate of egg freezing in America. That means only 15 out of 100 frozen eggs resulted in live births in this study in the USA which boasts of much finer technology than India.
#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
The process of freezing eggs is intensive, expensive, and grueling and comes without a guarantee.
The process involves injecting your belly with multiple rounds of hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries, ovulation trigger medication to ‘mature’ the eggs, and then an intrusive, painful extraction procedure.

Diana Hayden gave the glam lift to egg freezing in India but the whole process is intensive, expensive, and gruelling and comes without a guarantee.

Fertility Tests Are a Thriving Business But Are (Mostly) Useless

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.

Ovarian reserve tests are selling like hot cakes in India’s metropolises. Shell out Rs 1,500 and women get an insight into the current and future fertility possibilities. Some of these tests claim to be so advanced that they can predict when a woman is likely to go into menopause.

But scientists are already debunking the accuracy of these tests. Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.

A study in medical journal JAMA points towards the limitations of technology – even if we can foresee the number of eggs left in a woman’s ovaries to predict the date of menopause, it is impossible to foresee the quality of those eggs or how they will function after fertilisation.

In the End, It’s Worth It (Or Maybe Not)

#LetsTalkFertility: False Promises of IVF &  Booming Baby Business
Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.

IVF can be like a merry-go-round with endless cycles of invasive surgeries, topped with a cocktail of drugs, pain, stress, loss and loneliness. Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.

As for Shweta, she will fiercely chase the baby dream till there is even the slightest of a fighting chance left. And if it doesn’t happen? “Then I’ll just go back to living my life,” she says.

(We at FIT are running a campaign to increase awareness about fertility. Get your queries on fertility answered by top specialists. Write to us at Fit@thequint.com or click here.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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