IVF – be informed

IFV, or In Vitro Fertilization, is thought by many to be a source of great hope.  Many of us desire to have children.  Too often this does not happen easily or when we want it to.  So, you are in your mid-thirties and have been trying to have children for over a year.  Your doctor sends you to a fertility specialist.  A number of tests are done and no specific cause is found.  It is determined that you understand the process of achieving a pregnancy, a process you and your spouse have faithfully adhered to.  Still no pregnancy.  You are prescribed a medication to enhance fertility.  Six months later, still no pregnancy.  You have read a little bit about IVF.  A friend of yours recently had a child by using IFV.  IVF is what your specialist recommends.  The process seems simple.  Eggs are collected at the right time of the month, as is a sample of sperm.  The egg and the sperm are put together in a petri dish.  The resulting blastocyst is put into the uterus and, given time, a pregnancy is established.

This seems simple and straight forward but what you need to know is that, in reality, it is not that simple or straight forward.  It uses a lot of medication, many visits to the fertility clinic, a lot of money and often more failed attempts than successes.  You have heard something about this but, in the end, is the child you hope to have not worth it?

If it were that simple, then the child may be worth it, even with the inherent risks involved in the use of the medications used to cause hyper-stimulation of the ovaries and to control to process of the ovaries releasing the eggs.  But there is more too it than this.  It can be, or is, a matter of life and death.

The main concern, one often not discussed, with IVF is the loss of life that is inherent in the process.  Usually, many eggs are fertilized, which mean many tiny human lives begin.  Then two eggs, ones that the doctors think look the healthiest, are selected.  There are likely to be many failed fertilizations, meaning that eggs and sperm unite to form a new human life but, due to the less than ideal environment of a petri dish or test tube, they fail to grow and they die.  Their life is lost.  Of those that survive, only two are selected.  What happens to the rest?  The remaining tiny human lives are discarded (destroyed) or they are frozen, to possibly be used in another attempt.  Some of them will die as a result of freezing and some will die in the thawing.  Of those selected tiny human lives that get the opportunity to be put into the womb, the odds of one surviving is not high.  Sometimes two survive resulting in a twin pregnancy.  Twin pregnancies have a higher risk of serious problems, putting both of the tiny human beings at risk of problems or demise before, during and after their birth…

Should we head down such a path or recommend it to others?


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