Last week, Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Psychology and Medicine for his work in in vitro fertilization. Edwards pioneered the technique that has allowed millions of infertile women to have biological children (about 4 million so far) of their own. There is no disputing that his work was ground-breaking and has made a huge and largely positive impact on our society.
When I heard the announcement on the radio, my toes curled. I never went through IVF myself, but through this website, I’ve spoken to many women who have. I’ve heard their stories about the treatment, the drugs, the pain and the sickness, and I’ve heard about the failed attempts, numerous failed attempts in some cases. The two men discussing the Nobel Prize on the radio gushed about the miraculous technology and explained for the audience the basic process of retrieving, fertilizing, and transplanting the egg. Their commentary was full of wide-eyed wonder. But there was no mention of the drugs, the pain, the expense, the heartache, and I felt that they only told a fraction of the story.
I try to keep perspective and not allow any lingering bitterness about my own infertility to taint my opinion, but that’s impossible. I can’t unknow what I know, and yes, IVF has had a positive impact on millions of women, but it’s been a detriment to many more. Unfortunately, that side of the story is still seldom told.