In a Telegraph newspaper column, It’s adults, not teens, who need a sex talk, UK journalist Bryony Gordon describes a friend who runs a fertility clinic in central London who is:
…slack-jawed with amazement at all the highly educated, highly paid, highly functioning couples who pass through her doors every day with only the most basic notion of reproduction. ‘People honestly think IVF is a cure-all!’ she squealed the other day. ‘I want to shake them! I want to say, ‘Do you know what it involves? Do you know how heart-in-mouth horrible it is?’
Those of us who have lived through IVF clearly know how horrible it is but, truthfully, the basic understanding of reproduction has been obfuscated by conflicting headlines about reproductive medicine and what it can actually achieve. Compounding the confusion, the dark side of IVF has been a pretty well-kept secret.
Consider this. It’s been 54 years since the birth control pill became widely available (thanks in part to research involving infertile women), and 36 years have passed marking the birth of the first in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby. Until now we’ve relied on those who profit from selling fertility drugs and treatment to control the conversation. The carefully cultivated narrative complete with the fairy tale ending doesn’t include the ‘heart-in-mouth’ horrible aspects of the procedures because, let’s face it, is bad, bad, bad for business.
Scarier, still, without the benefit of longitudinal health studies, those of us who have engaged in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and any children resulting from IVF have largely been involved in a huge experiment.
Our collective experience and what IVF does to our body, hearts and souls is starting to come to light. While the success stories have had lots of visibility, the flip side has been under-reported. Those who experienced failed treatment and trauma are only now stepping forward to openly and honestly acknowledge and address the physical, social and psychological tolls associated with reproductive medicine and treatments.
With the benefit of reflection and healing — and having fully come to grips with what we’ve experienced — a new generation of women are now willing to share valuable lessons. This is where I need your help. Below you’ll find links to a set of independent resources, articles and perspectives. I’ve created a new page (see nav up above) to house the links.
Welcome your addition to this list so we can continue to grow the body of knowledge and provide a fuller picture of what’s involved in IVF and related fertility procedures. Decision making about reproductive medicine will come much easier to the next generation if they have knowledge and access to information well before crunch time. Knowledge is power.
CDC – Assisted Reproductive Technology (Monitoring outcomes of technologies that affect reproduction has become an important public health activity)
Grassroots Groups & Initiatives
Our Bodies Ourselves (Trusted information on sexuality and reproductive health)
We Are Egg Donors (Grassroots group whose mission is to advocate for any health initiatives that make donor health a top priority)
The Dark Side of Fertility Treatments (Psychology Today)
Childless Women and Infertility (Psych Central)
Assisted Reproduction (Frontline)
Ethical and Psychosocial Impact of Female Infertility (University of Texas)
Study: Variation in Distress Among Women With Infertility (Oxford Journal)
Exploring Epistemic Injustice Through Feminist Social Work Research (Karen Bell explores women’s experiences of assisted reproduction and injustice)
Constructions of “Infertility” and Some Lived Experiences of Involuntary Childlessness (Karen Bell argues that the dominant construction of “infertility” is partial, biased, and inaccurate and that it serves to maintain infertility as a “woman’s problem” to be addressed ideally via biomedicine)