IVF add-ons are the dirty little secret in the ‘fertility’ industry. These interventions are the latest in a long history of the industry experimenting on women.
As I moved from IVF patient to patient advocate I’ve had the opportunity to monitor the industry from a unique perspective. You can see it unfold the past decade in The New York Times.
Firstly, there was June 10, 2008. That’s the day The New York Times ran a feature story about my move away from IVF treatment. I spoke about the personal and social challenges in this companion audio feature: patient voices.
From Patient to Patient Advocate
However, it wasn’t long before I realized the industry misled patients. A little more than five years ago The New York Times agreed to run an op-ed authored by me and my fellow patient advocate and friend Miriam Zoll. Our piece Selling the Fantasy of Fertility exposed the distorted reality that fertility medicine equals ‘successful science’
Today I woke up before dawn to see my latest op-ed run in The New York Times. The editors didn’t pull any punches with the headline they wrote: The Big IVF Add-on Racket. The piece landed on the homepage alongside major news around the world. Its placement signals this is not a topic to be taken lightly.
Clinics Prioritize Profits Over Safety
The op-ed reveals the unethical way the industry develops and sells add-ons to patients seeking help to become pregnant.
But, this op-ed is not the only piece making waves. It follows several new papers published this month in Fertility and Sterility, including one I co-authored as part of an international team of researchers, academics and patient advocates. Our article, Do à la carte menus serve infertility patients? The ethics and regulation of in vitro fertility add-ons, raises many tough questions
Companion papers on IVF add-ons run in the December print issue. They include:
– Add-ons in the laboratory: hopeful, but not always helpful
– In vitro fertilization add-ons for the endometrium: it doesn’t add-up
Furthermore, the papers, as a package, point to a troubling pattern of the profit-driven IVF industry. They reveal how new procedures and therapies enter clinical practice before their effectiveness or safety had been validated.
So, is it any wonder there are problems when you see Tweets like this from last week:
— BioNews (@BioNewsUK) December 4, 2019
Call for Change – Will It Be Heeded?
Moreover, there has never been a well-organized constituency calling for change in the IVF industry. Maybe this will happen in 2020. Welcome your thoughts and shares.
As I said in this @nytopinion There needs to be more rigor in how #IVF procedures are developed, researched and put into use. Self-policing by the industry has failed patients. #UnmaskingIVF The Big IVF Add-On Racket https://t.co/iEkGQqDfLv
— Pamela M Tsigdinos (@PamelaJeanne) December 12, 2019
I also haven’t lost sight of the emotional toll that accompanies IVF or involuntary childlessness. You can read my latest on this topic over at Medium: A Socially Unacceptable Grief.