It’s time to talk about failure. The two thirds majority I wish I wasn’t part of. Lisa Jardine, the outgoing Chair of the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority (the HFEA to us infertile aficionados) did a series of interviews at the beginning of last month in which she said she regretted how little is said about all the couples who are going through IVF that don’t end up with a baby. Newspapers and magazines are full of miracle stories about conceiving against the odds, but statistics indicate that two thirds of all cycles end in failure. Who is talking about that?
I have long felt that one of the reasons for so much failure is that IVF has now become a ubiquitous treatment for all forms of infertility when it isn’t necessarily the answer. It was actually invented for women with blocked fallopian tubes whose eggs could not get where they needed to be for fertilization and has now become the go-to treatment for everyone, even the 25% of couples whose infertility is unexplained. Whatever the problem, women all over the world are up on the trolley with their feet in the air having their eggs laid and scrambled. And no one’s saying loudly enough: it might not work. Once, thrice, even ten terrible times. It might not work because it might not be the answer.
So this week’s question: how much IVF is enough?