October 19, 2021

Lived IVF Reality Gets New Look

My inbox has overflowed recently with new requests for writing and guidance as well as comments about the painful lived reality of IVF and egg freezing. The academic and bioethics world is also paying more attention to IVF survivorship. Here are some of the latest deep dives into the lived IVF reality.

IVF Marketing Scrutiny

Jennifer Takhar, Associate Professor of Marketing and Communication at ISG Business School and a research affiliate at the Linguistic and International Resources Center at the Graduate School of Communication and Journalism (CELSA) of the Sorbonne University has written on IVF marketing.

Meanwhile, Takhar’s latest work, IVF survivorship, the IVF memoir and reproductive activism, looks at IVF memoirs written by yours truly, Miriam Zoll and Jessica Hepburn. She asks what can be gleaned through memoir, a literary genre:

“Patient narratives of treatments recounted in IVF memoirs tell a more nuanced and complete story of cruel optimism that need to be recognised and analysed by marketing scholars as vital sources of lived consumer experiences in high-risk, low outcome ART contexts. The three memoirs assessed here offer first-person accounts of human resilience and persistence.”

Furthermore, Takhar concludes IVF memoirs such as Silent Sorority, Cracked Open and The Pursuit of Motherhood:

  • –are understudied literary sources of embodied health activism in the context of the consumption and marketing of assisted reproductive technologies;
  • –reveal the creative diversity of ART consumers’ expression and their chronic, ‘consumer identity projects’, which warrant more critical attention from the marketing field.

The full article is available in the Journal of Marketing Management. I’ll have a my own lengthy article on IVF Survivorship published later this year in the same journal. Stay tuned.

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BioNews: When Reproduction meets Ageing

The editors at the UK’s BioNews asked me to review a recent academic book, When Reproduction meets Ageing.  It offered a rare opportunity for a lived IVF take on an academic’s work. Here’s an excerpt:

At a recent socially distanced neighbourhood get-together in northern Nevada, my neighbour introduced me as an author and health writer.

‘And what area of health do you focus on?’ one new acquaintance asked eagerly.

‘Well,’ I hesitated, ‘many find it socially awkward or uncomfortable… ‘ before I ploughed ahead and declared: ‘I write mostly about the shortcomings of in vitro fertilisation and its failure impacts.’

My husband was more direct: ‘IVF does not live up it its hype. It fails some 75 percent of the time – we experienced it first-hand.’

The now sympathetic new neighbour had a confession. ‘My sister-in-law had an awful time. Her IVF failed several times.’ She then enquired plaintively: ‘Why don’t more people know about this?’

This conversation stayed with me as I completed reading Nolwenn Bühler’s book, When Reproduction meets Ageing: The Science and Medicine of the Fertility Decline. While far from an easy read, due to the mostly dense, academic language, Bühler provides a useful new look at the biological clock and how often it’s miscalculated as well as the hazards of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ presentation of fertility.

You can read the full piece here.


Grief Expressed

Finally, I was taken by a conversation Stephanie Phillips led during World Childless Week. She spoke with Cristina Archetti, Jessica Hepburn, Yvonne John and Tessa Broad on the process of writing their books; what they hoped to achieve and what they learned from the process. Cristina Archetti in particular lit up my brain as she discussed her lived IVF reality. It’s worth a listen: Releasing our Grief Through the Power of Words.

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As always, welcome your thoughts.

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