IVF: Clarifications and Caveats

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on January 25, 2016

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Earlier this month I wrote about a recent study in the Journal of the American Medicine Association that found that “nearly two-thirds of women undergoing I.V.F. will have a child by the sixth attempt.” In commenting on the story I noted that the New York Times reported on the study with a rather deceiving headline: “With In Vitro Fertilization, Persistence Pays Off.” The article glossed over the very high costs of IVF (up to $15,000 per round) and the major payoffs for pharmaceutical reps and fertility industry professionals who promote multiple IVF cycles. A new article out from the Wall Street Journal aims to right that wrong.

Reporting on that same study, the Wall Street Journal’s headline was much more sober—and asked a question rather than declared a statement: “How Many IVF Cycles Should Women Try?,” they asked. Another subject line aimed to clarify the matter even further: “Large U.K. study shows cumulative birthrate increases with each cycle, up to nine rounds, but there are important caveats to consider.” And the article, which includes the aforementioned concerns about the study, went on to note: “Media coverage, understandably, focused on the good news. But the findings may give some women false hope and guilt others into thinking they quit IVF too soon.”

In an age in which consumer protection is all the rage and politicians and journalists alike want to be hailed as consumer advocates, the fertility industry often gets a free pass. In fact, treating one’s fertility issues shouldn’t result in individuals being treated as consumers at all, but rather as patients. But such an enterprise is built off of profits and the powers-that-be want to minimize these important caveats when it comes to considering IVF. Fortunataely, there are still a few headline writers that aim to combat such deception.

Image by andrewinraleigh via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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