#Unmasking IVF Explained

The Untold Stories of IVF

#Unmasking IVF Explained

January 3, 2022 Bioethics How This Works 15
IVF Unmasked

Originally posted June 6, 2017. Updated January 3, 2022

Welcome. We’re glad you found us. If it’s your first time visiting, here’s some background…

On July 25, 2018, Louise Brown, the world’s first baby born via in-vitro fertilization (IVF), celebrated her 40th birthday.

For those fortunate to have birthed healthy babies using IVF, this anniversary will be celebratory. But for many millions more who attempted IVF and failed, and for women’s and infant health specialists still trying to assess and reduce medical risks, the 40th anniversary of IVF represented a different opportunity. It offered a chance to come forward with the well-hidden side of IVF and spotlight concerns about safety, efficacy, and the lack of consumer protections.

In anticipation of the 40th anniversary, several former IVF consumers, including ourselves, created an online repository along with a social media campaign using the hash tag #UnmaskingIVF. Our long-term goal was to push for greater procedural transparency and public health information so that women can be well-informed about the full spectrum of outcomes and risks associated with IVF.

Our first step in 2018 was to create a more comprehensive collection of narratives where people who experienced the lesser-known IVF outcomes and those who have worked in the industry can post their testimonies and share their stories with the public.

We sought input and information from:

  •  women who were early IVF research subjects
  • scientists who had concerns that did not get fair hearing
  • people who managed a clinic or agency and witnessed data manipulation or questionable practices around development or marketing of new service offerings without evidence-based science to indicate its effectiveness or risks
  • people who experienced failed IVF
  • people who bore children with health challenges or stillborn infants 
See also  Questioning the 'Fertility' Industry

We also wanted to hear from those who sold or froze their eggs, served as a commercial gestational surrogate, and those who came away with compromised health.

Women and men who felt comfortable sharing information about the complications they experienced as patients/consumers, or witnessed as health practitioners or scientists helped provide an important public service during the 40th anniversary year and beyond.

Due to poor record keeping in many countries, it has been virtually impossible to know for sure how many babies have actually been born through ReproTech services or how many have been born healthy. Over the years various industry representatives have estimated anywhere from one to five million. In a 2001 interview Robert Edwards, one of the British scientists responsible for Brown’s birth, was quoted as saying that one million IVF babies had been born since 1978 (1 ).  Five years later, in 2006, those approximations rose to two million , and in 2012, to five million.

Yet, while the IVF industry focuses on and markets the success stories, the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) asserts that of the 1.5 million IVF cycles performed annually, roughly 1.2 million fail — translating into a global IVF cycle failure rate of almost 80 percent.  In the U.S., recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate a national failure rate of roughly 70 percent per cycle across all ages. Public information provided by the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority indicates that 73 percent of cycles fail annually (2).

Given these numbers, it is very likely that as many as 20 million failed cycles occurred impacting the lives of women and men over the past 40 years. Equally unknown is the number of babies born with health challenges . As alarming as these underreported statistics are there are many other troubling aspects of the ReproTech industry that are equally obscure. This includes the absence of medically proven treatments ; ethical concerns linked to the commercialization of women’s eggs and wombs; and hyper marketing risky techniques to perfectly healthy young women.

See also  Research: IVF survivorship, IVF memoirs and reproductive activism

Today, ReproTech is a fast-growing unregulated industry with few, if any, consumer/patient protections. The lack of longitudinal studies about reproductive technologies has been one of many troubling issues surrounding IVF since it was first commercialized. Scrutiny and honest dialogue is needed now more than ever with increasingly risky entrepreneur-led efforts to sell untested procedures while downplaying risks.

We continue to welcome bioethical exploration as well as scientific rigor – particularly as experiments with gene therapy migrate to reproductive tech procedures despite cautions about risks associated with DNA manipulation .

#UmaskingIVF values personal testimony about ReproTech. Personal stories are a powerful tool that can help individuals and civil society make decisions about repro tech and help direct public policy in the future.


15 Responses

  1. […] encourage you to share your untold IVF story. It’s best to send via email: info [@] reprotech [dot] org and please provide your consent for […]

  2. […] If you have a story to tell we want to hear it. […]

  3. […] you have a untold story? Read here to learn more about how to share […]

  4. […] you have an untold story for ReproTechTruths? Read here to learn more about how to share […]

  5. Elena says:

    I LOVE that you are doing this!!!
    Thank you!!
    People need to learn that most of what they believe about fertility treatments is wrong. Childless women are faced with so many stupid stereotypes and ideas. fertility treatments cause so much heartbreak. Thank you so much.
    I didn’t even get as far as IVF – after the firs failed IUI my partner backed out and my relationship failed. I didn’t get a second chance at a baby and am still single and now 45 years old. But still even professionals such as psychotherapists treat me to the “but you still can”….making me sad and angry… .and then blaming me for being sad and angry. I don’t know whether that kind of story is also interesting to your project?

  6. […] a year after our failed IVF, we meet with the doctor to talk about why.  It was difficult.  I didn’t know what the next […]

  7. […] questionable practices from an IVF or egg freezing clinic and want to share your story, please contact us at info (@) reprotechtruths [dot] […]

  8. […] If you have story to share contact us at info (@) reprotechtruths [dot] org More on how to participate here. […]

  9. […] IVF clinic.This is the side of IVF you certainly won’t hear about in the media. ~~ If you have an #UnmaskingIVF story to tell, please contact us at info (@) reprotechtruths [dot] org. (Visited 1 times, 1 visits […]

  10. […] you have had health issues since IVF and would like to share your story, please contact us at info (@) reprotechtruths [dot] […]

  11. Mandy says:

    I am a current commercial surrogate. Discharged from hospital yesterday with bilateral pulmonary embolism. Now on blood thinners, almost died. Sent email. Still pregnant, terrified of delivering this baby.

    • Editor says:

      What a terrifying experience, Mandy. So hope you are getting the care you require and need. Keep us posted on your progress. All the best to you in the meantime.

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