The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Amy Anka Headshot

IVF - Ill Conceived?

Posted: Updated:

IVF is a big business. With infertility now affecting one in six couples, IVF is something that has become somewhat of a necessity for some couples wishing to conceive their own biological child.

Often times, couples are so desperate for a baby, that they don't even consider the toll it can take on their physical and emotional well being. The main one failed to be discussed is the increased risk of cancer.

With taking any type of hormones there are links to breast, ovarian and uterine cancer - but this hasn't been conclusively proven - of course it hasn't been proven as this would damage the multi million dollar business of luring people in with the hope of helping them conceive a baby when they are in such a fragile and desperate state - here in Australia, one IVF procedure costs anywhere between $1500 at a public fertility clinic all the way up to $8000 for a private clinic - not including the cost of freezing any extra embryos, or if pre-genetic implantation screening is required, so this is a very lucrative business that relies solely on emotions - after all, a baby is a desire, not a requirement for a fulfilling life.

There is also the possibility of early menopause if you were unlucky enough to develop hyper-ovarian stimulation, and an extremely rare but possible side effect of that is also death.

I think a classic example of what can go wrong, is E! news presenter Guiliana Rancic. She suffered every imaginable complication throughout her IVF process. She became pregnant with her first cycle, and then sadly miscarried, and developed hyper ovarian stimulation with her second cycle where she was dramatically hospitalized and required a blood transfusion, and then she failed to conceive in that same cycle, and by the time she went to attempt her third cycle, she was given the devastating news that she had developed breast cancer at the age of 36, with no family history of it, nor having the gene for it.

And the worst part is this - the average success rate of a pregnancy through IVF is just 30% (which is actually only 5% higher than a natural cycle), and to add to that, there is a 25% chance of miscarriage (this is the chance in all pregnancies - assisted or natural).

Now to add to that is this - if you are lucky and are successful in becoming pregnant through IVF, the babies born as a result of IVF, often have health problems, that they won't actually tell you about, because they say there hasn't been enough evidence collected to suggest that this is the case. Now I'm not saying that all IVF children have problems - obviously that's not true, as there are many healthy IVF children out there - but more than you realise do have problems, and the reason why its more that you know is this.

What has actually happened, is there hasn't been many studies done on IVF children, as once the woman is pregnant she will generally go into the mainstream system, and any complications that do arise, will not be associated with IVF (more info here and here)- and a lot of the problems don't begin until after the baby is aged 1 year - why? Because the organs fall into place when the child begins to walk and that's when a lot of the problems begin to appear, and because of the late onset of these problems (as opposed to it being diagnosed in-vitro or shortly after the birth), the correlation is not established, and therefore overlooked. Here are a few examples below:

There are two reports published in genetics journals which have found that children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome were four to six times more likely to have been conceived through IVF or ICSI than not. The syndrome, which normally affects one in 15,000 newborns, can cause an oversized tongue and internal organs, high birth weight and a greater risk of some cancers.

A report in The Lancet, implicated IVF with a five- to seven-fold increased risk of a rare form of eye cancer known as retinoblastoma among children born in the Netherlands.

In an issue of the Journal of Urology, Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that babies conceived though IVF were seven times more likely to be born with a set of rare urological birth defects that include the formation of the bladder outside the body. Other case reports linked ICSI with Angelman syndrome, yet another rare condition that can cause developmental problems and speech impairment.

And a lot of the other problems don't even surface until the child hits puberty.

Now a lot of the doctors will tell you that these problems come as a result of the infertility itself, and not the IVF / ICSI procedure. Fair enough, but doesn't that in itself, act as a red flag to the potential parents? If all couples were made aware of the risks associated with IVF, and tried to consider the reason why they were indeed infertile, would they still choose to pursue it? Did they ever stop to think that there is a reason why they can't fall pregnant naturally, and it might simply be because they cannot produce a normal healthy baby?

Who are they doing this for anyway?

Around the Web

IVF - NHS Choices

HFEA - Fertility, Infertility, IVF, Embryo research - Human Fertilisation ...

IVF Treatment at CARE Fertility, the UK's largest independent ...

UK government backs three-person IVF

Britain could create first 'three-parent baby' through IVF

IVF: third-parent mitochondria 'don't make us who we are' - video

As Britain approves babies with three parents... The moment science took ...

UK set to approve IVF technique that prevents inheritable diseases

Presented by Havana Club