A recent IVF study led by Yale sociology associate professor Rene Almeling stopped me in my tracks, but for reasons surely different than the research team.
The IVF study goal was to “assess whether different motivations for undergoing the same medical intervention affects bodily experiences.” Published in the September Journal of Social Science and Medicine, the study compared the physical, emotional, and cognitive experiences of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) either to become pregnant or to sell their eggs for money.
“The researchers found that there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a woman’s bodily experience and her reason for harvesting eggs.”
To IVF veterans who pursued this invasive reprotech procedure with the sole goal of a successful pregnancy the findings are, in a word, obvious.
IVF Study: Physical Pain Scores Misleading
What left me particularly dumbfounded? Nearly 40 years after IVF was commercialized this was “the first explicit comparison of bodily experiences.”
“Scientific researchers and medical professionals should take into consideration an individual’s end goals as a potential factor in how they will experience medical interventions.”
While Yale has codified these results in a study, patient/consumer readers here and on other forums have long made clear that for-profit IVF clinics and service providers have a track record of tone deafness. Nonetheless, it’s validating to have an institution take a systematic view and put some data behind what we all know so well:
“The Yale study also reveals that just looking at physical pain scores can be misleading. The researchers applied a statistical method called cluster analysis, which demonstrated that bodily experience is the result of physical, emotional, and cognitive processes.”
So, for those who needed to see it spelled out in black and white: clinics selling or studying medical interventions, such as IVF, “should attend to individuals’ reasons.”
And in the news this week
- From Australia: “Ethical accusations against IVF doctors” — as if patient/consumers need more reason to be alarmed about the quality of care and motives of reprotech doctors. More reporting here.
- From the UK: “Crackdown on the IVF cowboys after probe reveals financial incentives to entice women into giving away eggs” — The revelations led IVF pioneer Lord Winston to declare: ‘I fear that some in my profession have no moral or ethical compass.’ Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the findings were serious and worrying.
Finally, on a more compassionate note, I’d to call out the work of two women. Each bring new understanding to the misunderstood experience surrounding childlessness not by choice and the cultural complexities surrounding motherhood (or the lack of it) in the modern age.
- Please visit Jody Day’s Gateway Women website for her series this week recognizing World Childless Week.
- Please support Jessica Hepburn in her efforts to bring forward 21 Miles: the story of one woman who ate 21 meals with 21 women and then swam 21 miles to answer the question: does motherhood make you happy?
Welcome your input, shares and comments, as always.
3 thoughts on “New Studies Call Out IVF Clinic Tone Deafness, Profiteering”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this post, especially given a conversation I overheard from an egg donor who described her donation cycles as “not that bad” while I remember them being fucking awful. I think it completely makes sense that the desired outcome would completely impact the IVF process. And yet, as you pointed out, the clinics do nothing to address this.
Pain is real. Pain needs to be mitigated and managed. After all, that’s part of a physician’s job (and arguably part of the Hypocratic oath).
I’m appalled by the same things you are – that it has taken 40 years for a study to compare experiences. I am thankful for Lord Winston (who was the Dr for a friend of mine in the 1980s), as he always seems to speak with an ethical commonsense.
Also – everything that Cristy said.
And holy cow – a clinic offering incentives to increase the number of cycles. Once again, I’m thankful that my dr at my clinic didn’t try to do this. (It makes me want to go back to interview him on a range of issues now. Would I be brave enough?)