It’s surprising that I haven’t had five children, the number of miracle breakthroughs that there have been since the fourth and last time I had unsuccessful IVF treatment four years ago to the month. Prop open the doors of the maternity ward, ‘cos here comes another.
Today’s miracle, as reported by the BBC, concerns a mixture of citric acid and bicarbonate of soda to replace the carbon dioxide incubators, medical grade gas and air purification systems needed to grow the embryos outside the body before they are replaced in the womb. Apparently this will reduce the cost of IVF from approximately £5,000 per cycle to £170.
My partner and I paid for IVF three of the four times we had it. Those three cycles cost around £20,000 in total.
When paying for IVF, you pay for1
- Blood tests (him and her)
- Sperm tests
- Drugs to down-regulate the woman’s cycle so that the next stage starts from a ‘zero base’ (usually taken for 10-14 days)
- Drugs to hyperstimulate the ovaries so that multiple eggs are produced
- The syringes to inject the aforementioned drugs into whatever part of the body deemed most appropriate twice a day (stomach for me)
- Regular scans to monitor the progress of the ovaries (a good old internal probing every two or three days) along with blood checks to monitor hormone levels
- A final mega injection of human chorionic gonadotropin to trigger ovulation
- An operation (sometimes performed under general anaesthetic, sometimes local) to extract the eggs (involving an ultrasound-guided great big needle piercing the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries and suck out the eggs.)
- The bit where eggs and sperm are introduced and hopefully the sperm fertilises the egg, then the embryo is left to develop for a few days
- The transfer of fertilised embryos back in to the body
- Progesterone pessaries (your choice – front or back)
- Any other bit of quackery that you allow yourself to be duped into paying for.
Each stage of the process costs. The miracle process that will allegedly cut the cost of IVF treatment is the ninth one in the list above. I really cannot see how an advance in that stage of the process will reduce the total cost of IVF from (a conservative) £5,000 to £170. At best it will reduce the cost of that stage of the process.
The mainstream fertility industry in Britain is reportedly worth an estimated £500million a year (2011) and rising. Does anyone really think the industry is ready to kiss its profits goodbye?
And back to the BBC piece linked above, is there not a whiff of an incitement of racism, the special brand of racism reserved for people in developing countries, in the sentences : “Experts said there was big potential to open up IVF to the developing world.” Repeated later on, in case you missed it the first time as “If you don’t have a child in Africa, or also South America or Asia, it’s a disaster.” Or is it just me who imagines the ” ‘They’ don’t need encouraging to have any more babies” reactions of badly informed bigots who haven’t the inclination to take the time to understand the relationship between world poverty and birth-rates?
I’m angry that another development in the IVF process is being so irresponsibly reported as presenting something that it cannot. Not for me, it’s irrelevant. I’m done with IVF. But for everyone who will be getting a ‘don’t give up, have you heard about this new treatment?‘ call, text, email or even newspaper cutting over the next few days from well-intentioned friends and relatives who desperately want to support someone trying to conceive through IVF; for everyone who’s thinking, maybe they won’t give up, maybe with this they can afford to give it another xxx attempts, for every poor bugger whose hopes are being falsely raised by this article and others like it, I’m bloody raging.
1 There are several different methods of IVF, this is the method I had.
- IVF as cheap as £170, doctors claim (bbc.co.uk)