Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Nobel Prize Awarded to Father of IVF October 14, 2010

Filed under: Current Affairs,Infertility and Loss — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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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.

And yet…

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.

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6 Responses to “Nobel Prize Awarded to Father of IVF”

  1. Sue Says:

    I know exactly where you are coming from. As soon as I saw the title to today’s post my immediate reaction was “Big deal! It’s not like everyone who does IVF gets a baby.” I too, have never gone through IVF- we stopped at medications. But I, like you, have read enough from real women who make up the not-so-happy-ending statistics (which are rarely brought up as you pointed out). It’s wonderful that this technology has helped so many, but I guess I just relate more and feel for those who were not so lucky.

  2. Kathleen Guthrie Says:

    Having seen so many friends SUFFER through this process (and only one resulted in a child), I knew it was not an option for me. I also worry re: the long-term health effects on the women (overload on hormones=ovarian cancer?) and the potential effects on the children. Remember DES?

  3. Mali Says:

    I think the Nobel Prize was long overdue. It was a tremendous scientific achievement, and one that has given many many couples – who thought they had lost hope – the children they so desperately wanted. I guess that’s what the media is going to focus on.

    I do agree though that the wider population, who don’t know enough or in fact anything about it, think it is a cure all, that it works for everyone, and that it is without stress, or physical danger. I wish that more people knew what it involves, and what people go through when they try IVF. I went through two IVF cycles – it didn’t work for me – and all I can say is that at the time it gave me hope. And when it didn’t work, I was able to accept that.

    I am fortunate though to live in a country where two IVF cycles are free (for women under 40 – I didn’t qualify for that), and where there are quite strict regulations surrounding the use of IVF so we don’t see women trying endlessly and spending endless amounts of money, or pumping huge amounts of hormones through their bodies (the maximum dose is restricted) or having six or eight babies, or many of the very negative outcomes you might see in other countries.

  4. lmanterfield Says:

    The fertility industry is not well regulated here in the U.S.. As a consequence we see doctors taking big risks with multiple embryos to get the success rates that keep their clinics in business. It has become a very lucrative industry instead of the medical treatment it was intended to be. Sounds as if your country has some very sound regulations in place. In the US most health insurance companies don’t even cover fertility treatment, let alone proving two free cycles!! The industry has a lot of evolving to do.

  5. Elena Says:

    why did he get a Nobel Prize in PSYCHOLOGY? I’m not getting that bit. IVF might be an attempt to “fix” infertility (as has been talked about in the newest thread) but certainly the psychology aspects are lagging behind or made worse by the medical possibilities…. did no one question that???


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