In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has always been controversial, there are lots of different opinions and views on the subject.
• Should couples, or indeed individuals, who are not able to procreate, for one reason or another, be given the chance to produce a child?
• Is it a good idea to actively increase the population in this way when it seems that the global population is already approaching a number where soon there will not be enough food and water for all the people on our planet while there are already so many orphans and uncared for children?
• Is it right for medical experts to assume the role of God and use science to change what has not been given by nature?
• Is there enough information available on how high (low) the chances are for IVF to be successful?
• What are the physical consequences of IVF procedures on women, is data collected and analysed?
• What impact do IVF procedures have on the mental health of both women and men?
This subject has always interested me and so in my novel I have written about it; below is part of a conversation between my heroine Eden and her best friend Marion.
‘Why didn’t you look at adoption? Forgive me if I offend you but our planet is overpopulated, we don’t have enough food and water for everyone now, what will the future hold with an ever increasing population?’
Marion said vehemently, as if on a mission.
‘There are so many children who are orphans.’
‘Well, by then I knew that it was possible for me to get pregnant so I wanted to try again. But before we began the third cycle, we had agreed that it would be the last one and that if I didn’t get pregnant we would definitely look at adoption, as it turned out we didn’t have to. It’s true what you say about this world being overpopulated. However … I guess it’s how we were created … there’s this self-preservation thing inbuilt in us, isn’t there? Not knowing for sure what will happen to us after death, we want to continue living in our genes.’
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica have provided us with stacks of stuff about medical technology. You will find interesting generalities and if you want to know what they say about in vitro fertilization in particular, follow the link.
IVF: Moral and Ethical Considerations
In Vitro Fertilization was once as controversial as gene editing is today. The scientists who pioneered it were regarded as pariahs, even within their own universities.
So described by The Smithsonian Institution, follow link to article, In Vitro Fertilization.
Focus on the Family
To understand the question, a review of the terminology and the basic facts is in order, to delve into the subject, I suggest you follow the link and read:-
Focus on the Family, go to … To understand the ethics of IVF (In vitro fertilization) we must first consider the ethical status of an embryo.
New Technologies: The Ethical and Social Issues
We can consult books in the US National Library of Medicine, in particular in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information we can read accounts and reviews regarding:- Science and Babies: Private Decisions, Public Dilemmas.
In a tome titled:- New Technologies: The Ethical and Social Issues, Professor Patricia A. King, of Georgetown University Law Center, has said that the new reproductive technologies are controversial:
… because they challenge deeply held moral, ethical, and religious values, particularly those values that concern the family and relationships among its members. They involve the deliberate separation of reproduction from the act of human sexuality and from the human body.
Important ethical questions also attend many of the social aspects of reproductive health, such as the issues of hospitals turning away women in labor because they do not have insurance or of routine four-week waits before women can begin prenatal care.
As a rule, the new is often controversial
Although stalled in the US, a technique often called three-person IVF is gaining ground in Europe, where a pilot trial is now under way.
You can read more about this technique in WIRED, in an article entitled:- A Controversial Fertility Treatment Gets Its First Big Test.
New Controversy Over Experimental IVF Method – exclaimed sciencemag.org
On their website, the American Association for the Advancement of Science publish an article which states:-
In today’s issue of Science, three evolutionary biologists argue that the ethical and scientific debates over an experimental IVF approach called mitochondrial replacement have underplayed some potential risks of the technique.
The Ethics Centre discuss In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Article Science + Technology
A Point of View: IVF and the marketing of hope
On 25 October, 2013, BBC NEWS published a Magazine article by Lisa Jardine, the departing chair of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), about the frequency with which In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) fails, which prompted readers to send in their own experiences.
Fertility problems are estimated to affect one in six or one in seven couples in the UK – approximately 3.5 million people. Around 60,000 fertility treatments are performed in UK licensed clinics per year, with the live birth rate after IVF about a quarter, according to latest figures (2010) from the HFEA. Moreover, costs are high – 60% of IVF treatment in Britain is carried out in private clinics.
Follow link to read more of the article, IVF and the marketing of hope.
‘I wish IVF had never been invented’
On 4 November, 2013, BBC NEWS Magazine published a further article by Lisa Jardine.
Five million babies have been born worldwide since 1978 thanks to IVF. But few people talk of the many more times the treatment doesn’t work, said Lisa Jardine,
The latest HFEA figures show that for every cycle of IVF, fewer than a third of patients under the age of the 35 will be successful. And the percentages decrease as women get older.
Read more of the article, ‘I wish IVF had never been invented’.
The impact of Infertility and IVF on your Mental Health
Male infertility and mental health
Eden on the impact of IVF on men’s mental health:-
I could see that he was suffering a lot, he felt ashamed and inadequate because he was not able to fertilise his wife in the traditional manner. His demeanour changed, like he was a waste of space, an ineffective and irrelevant member of society, even though he discovered that he was not the only one with this problem. On top of that he had to deal with me in the state I was in. You know there’s a lot of information on the TV and in the media these days, about IVF, and all of the focus is on how it is for women.
The Spark Blog, male infertility and mental health by Andrew Webb, Oct 16, 2017.
Mental health in women 20–23 years after IVF treatment: a Swedish cross-sectional study.
Obstetrics and gynaecology – Research
Objective To assess self-perceived mental health in women treated with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) 20–23 years previously, while comparing them to a reference group, and to determine any differences in mental health between those who had given birth, those who had adopted a child, those who had given birth and adopted a child and those who remained childless.
BMJ – British Medical Journal – Mental health in women 20–23 years after IVF treatment: a Swedish cross-sectional study.
Secrets of IVF: high rate of failure and heavy toll on mental health
Sheila Wayman, in THE IRISH TIMES, December 5, 2017
The day Ruth drove her car up to Howth harbour in Co Dublin and contemplated driving off the side, she realised it was time to stop preparing for a third cycle of in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
“I figured nothing was worth that and I stopped taking it,” she says of the medication she had been prescribed to suppress her immune system and that had caused upsetting side effects. Two previous IVF cycles using different protocols had failed.
Read the THE IRISH TIMES article ‘We have made the decision that if it doesn’t work this time we are going to stop.’
Lots and lots of info by Nicola, on her site:-
Infertility network UK, check out Access Fertility.
The impact of Infertility and IVF on your Mental Health
Article by A Lust For Life Reader.
Fertility Treatments Take a Toll on Mental Health
Intended parents, sperm donors, egg donors, surrogates … it’s a “complex psychosocial minefield.”
VICE website, article in Health section – Fertility Treatments Take a Toll on Mental Health.