Now, I can’t help but be skeptical of what they’re going to cover. I start reading, because I try to skim before I record, that way I’m familiar with the text. As I read, each paragraph contained something I disagreed with. Sometimes it was a statistic, sometimes the tone. Then, he was working on class discussions. (It’s an online class) and found that a student had taken it upon herself to share her opinions on infertility. I thought you might be interested in his response. We sat down and went over what he thought were inaccuracies in the book. He could have let it go but he thought it was too important.
After reading the chapter and reading the posts, I wanted to address some concerns raised in both. My wife and I have firsthand experience with artificial reproductive technologies. I think many people can say what they think they would do in our situation, but it’s hard to know until you’re faced with it. Infertility is difficult and adoption is not the perfect solution for everyone. Many people advocate adoption as an easy answer for couples faced with infertility. Loving a child who isn’t your own is not the primary reason most people don’t choose adoption.
The average couple decides to have their own children even though there are so many children who “need good homes”. Why should that right be any different for a couple who cannot conceive? Also, adoption requirements are very often inflexible regarding age, persons with disabilities or past health concerns.
Medical treatment for infertility is the same as any treatment for a disease. One in six couples experiences some form of infertility, yet most people are afraid to share their story because of society’s stigma. I felt that the textbook reflected some of these negative stereotypes and attitudes. My wife runs a local chapter of a national infertility organization, and from the research we see, I know that some of the examples and statistics in the book are flawed.
– Sex sorting in InVitro Fertilization (IVF) is not available to couples as a way to choose one gender over the other. Most reproductive endocrinologists require proof of a gender related disorder before they will proceed. Pregenetic implantation diagnosis (PGD) is not used to make “designer babies”. If you can remove diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s, Sickle-Cell, Thalassemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and certain cancers why wouldn’t you? You could effectively remove the risk of your child ever struggling with those illnesses. PGD also assists in correcting chromosomal problems that would lead to miscarriage and late-term pregnancy loss.
– The majority of children conceived via IVF are in fact the biological product of both their parents. Donor eggs, sperm and embryos account for about 15% of births.
– The question of to tell or not to tell is a difficult one. Most couples do in fact tell their children of their conception once the children are old enough to understand.
– Both egg and sperm donors are screened for STD’s, health disorders, genetic diseases and chromosomal abnormalities. No tissue bank in the U.S. is allowed to bypass these requirements.
– The rate of multiples is not nearly as high as the book would have you believe. Twins is the most common form of multiple pregnancies with IVF. They occur in less than 35% of live IVF births. Triplets account for less than 8% and anything higher is unusual. The high order gestations you see on TV are usually the result of an unmonitored insemination, or the result of an OB/GYN without specialized infertility training prescribing fertility medications.
– Over the last few years, studies were finalized that said that birth defects among children born from IVF were not significantly different than the number among children conceived without medical intervention. Some studies that compile data don’t account for advanced maternal age, which can sometimes increase risk of birth defects. Of course, no study is completely comprehensive, but the National Institute of Health is keeping a close eye on children born via technologies.
– The case of surrogacy the author chose to illustrate her point was a poor example. This is NOT a realistic picture of a surrogacy scenario. Furthermore, the book focuses on traditional surrogacy, where the egg is from the woman who carries the child; and not the more common gestational surrogacy where a woman has another couple’s embryo transferred into her uterus.
– As far as the ethical question of the parent’s age, I pose this question. Society does not dictate how old a young person must be before they begin parenthood, should they dictate that a woman is too old? Infertility can affect men and women, old and young. Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term. If the partners are over 35, the period of trying is reduced to six months. The media portrayal of an infertile couple and the Hollywood stories you hear are not always reality.
-Couples who undergo treatment do not enter into it lightly. They must weigh the various factors – financial, social, ethical and medical. My wife and I have been trying to have a child for 3 years. We have undergone some of the procedures mentioned in this section. While many people have the ability to start their family when and however they want, many do not.
I hope these facts have enlightened you and will encourage you to keep an open mind the next time you hear or read about infertility.
If you want to read the article, you can email me, I have an adobe file of the section. I’m looking forward to a response from the instructor and his classmates. I love my husband for jumping on my soapbox.