It’s Performance Review Time, Fertility Industry!

It’s Performance Review Time, Fertility Industry!

Performance review time, already, for the fertility industry? Yes, it’s mid-October so let’s check in on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) confab. This year it’s billed as a Scientific Congress and EXPO. Per usual, there are a few eyebrow raisers. I followed #ASRM2016 on Twitter over coffee this morning. (A decision made easier as it was raining buckets here in California). Before long I engaged, respectfully, in a few discussions. Below are some of the highlights and observations. You can find more on Healthcare in America, which published…

HealthCARE vs. Health Business: True Fertility Medicine ‘Helpers’ Don’t Hide Statistics and Agendas

HealthCARE vs. Health Business: True Fertility Medicine ‘Helpers’ Don’t Hide Statistics and Agendas

It’s rare that male readers weigh in on the topic of fertility health and society’s response to the marketing of ‘fertility’ treatments. Such an occurrence introduced an added jolt to my morning coffee. More refreshing still were the “ah-has” that accompanied the insight-laden comment (a blog post unto itself really). Let’s annotate his comment further. Brian begins: Your blog reminds me of the importance of not letting hope replace reality. Immediately the famous quote from Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, popped to mind: “In the factory, we make cosmetics, in…

Did the Fertility Industry Underwrite Latest IVF Study?

Did the Fertility Industry Underwrite Latest IVF Study?

A new IVF study caught my attention just before powering down for Christmas. As much as I wanted to coast into the holidays and give my blog a rest, I couldn’t get this headline in The New York Times out of my head: With In Vitro Fertilization, Persistence Pays Off ‘Pays off’ that’s a nice play on words, isn’t it? IVF persistence pays off for whom? Fertility clinic owners and the pharmaceutical reps selling IVF cycles, that’s for darned sure. As I mused on it further it occurred to me…

All Women Are Infertile Most of Their Lives

All Women Are Infertile Most of Their Lives

Huh, Infertile?  What?? I know. The headline seems somehow wrong, does it not? I’ll repeat the words slowly so you have time to wrap your head around them: All…Women…Are…Infertile…Most…of…Their…Lives. It’s mind-blowing mostly because we are not programmed to view infertility from this angle. This conundrum first came to light in working with a colleague on an education initiative. The fact that any of us are here — through random human reproduction — is actually quite the marvel. Infertile Math Let’s take this infertile concept further with a little math. Story…

Fertility Industry Conning Patients?

Fertility Industry Conning Patients?

Doctor, con and IVF are not words you want to see in the same sentence. Yet that’s what you’ll find in this strongly worded piece written by Professor Robert Winston, author of a new guide on fertility.  Winston’s scathing analysis of his brethren and the fertility industry that has grown up around treatments is all the more noteworthy since he was a pioneer of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Profiteering and exploitation are not what we usually associate with those who take the Hippocratic oath. Rather we’ve been socialized to view…

Bioethicists in U.S. and Australia Call for Fertility Industry Regulation, More Transparency

Bioethicists in U.S. and Australia Call for Fertility Industry Regulation, More Transparency

When a former member of the ethics committee for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) calls for fertility industry regulation we should sit up and pay attention. Earlier this month George Annas, a Boston University School of Public Health professor and chair of health law, wrote a blistering opinion piece, It’s Time to Regulate the Fertility Industry, to combat what he sees as a fertility industry run amok. While he acknowledges that some people have been helped to have children they could not otherwise have, we can no longer…

A Conversation on Infertility Misconceptions

A Conversation on Infertility Misconceptions

On the heels of her recent BBC interview (Drawing the Line: When IVF Doesn’t Work) health advocate and blogger Lesley Pyne offered to have an in-depth chat about my latest writing project, Finally Heard. Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or libation of your choice) and join Lesley and me as we launch into a conversation on what we’ve learned since stopping fertility treatments.  We address the challenges of moving forward when infertility treatments fail, the trauma we confronted, and the need for greater accountability within the fertility industry….

IVF Rollercoaster: BBC Radio Show Callers Describe ‘Grueling, Painful, Isolating, Roll of Dice’

IVF Rollercoaster: BBC Radio Show Callers Describe ‘Grueling, Painful, Isolating, Roll of Dice’

Warning to those in a raw or vulnerable state: take caution listening to the interviews and discussions linked below.   As I come up on my seven-year anniversary of The New York Times piece, Facing Life Without Children When it Isn’t by Choice (June 10, 2008), I can’t help but be reflective. If you went back and asked 2008 Pamela what she hoped the New York Times health feature story would have led to seven years on, I have a hunch she’d be a bit disappointed with where society is…

Oh, Betty! I So Get You

Oh, Betty! I So Get You

“I don’t want you to think I’m a quitter. I’ve fought for plenty in my life. That’s how I know when it’s over. To know when to move on…” The dialogue from Mad Men this week struck like a thunder clap. I nodded instinctively. While cancer is the elephant in the room for Betty, I couldn’t help but see parallels for infertility. Her rationale is what I came to understand a decade ago: harsh reality is better than false hope. Betty’s cool Zen-like acceptance felt familiar. It is clearly not…

Customers or Patients? What Happens When Doctors See Markets Not People

Customers or Patients? What Happens When Doctors See Markets Not People

This week marks a year since Miriam Zoll and I authored The New York Times op-ed “Selling the Fantasy of Fertility.”  The piece, which has since been nominated for a 2014 EMMA Exceptional Merit in Media Award by the National Women’s Political Caucus, had a wide reach and generated lots of discussion about the unregulated “fertility” industry. Our op-ed also raised questions about whether doctors and scientists, joined by entrepreneurial business partners, were putting profits ahead of the well-being of those purchasing expensive, sometimes experimental medical services. There is a lot of…