Thursday, December 06, 2007


I was watching Dr. Phil today because that's what one does on the first day after exams are over after they've done all of their laundry and gone to the gym.

The subject of the show was infertility and women who wanted to get pregnant and whose partners didn't want to have babies. It got me thinking about IVF. I think that sometimes IVF is more of a curse than a blessing. The success rate is so low that sometimes I think it provides false hope and prevents women from grieving the fact that they cannot have children. I think it also gives some women the false impression that they can wait until they're in their 40s to have children and it will be ok because if they're too old to conceive there will always be another way. Perhaps the world should be encouraging women to have babies in their most fertile years and be supportive of women who want to do so. Maybe there should be better ways for women like me to take time off to have children without their colleagues scoffing and saying that they don't deserve to go into medical school if they're going to then work part time or take a few months off. We need to stop looking at child bearing as a vacation from important work or as an unfair advantage for women who won't have to do months of residency. I still hear grumbles from colleagues who complain about the idea of having to take extra call if someone goes on mat leave and saying things like how dare women go into surgical residencies and then take time off to have a baby. Sigh. How short sighted.


FooFoo5 said...

Don't ask how I got here... Click, click, you know the deal.

I was a resident in lower Manhattan at a hospital with the city's largest methadone maintenance program and detox (like they ever detox). Across the way was a hospital with a new (for the time) IVF center with its own entrance to the street & a "doorman-like" fellow opening taxi doors for the lovely & wealthy white couples entering. I don't intend this to be racial comment, but it was such a juxtaposition to stand in the ambulance bay of my hospital amidst poor, minority addicts with HIV drowning in children. All I could think of was, "Is it a blessing or a curse to be fertile?" I still don't know.

ditzydoctor said...

hullo first time here! :D

OH MY. my O&G prof told us the exact same thing!!! he said: get married and have kids fast. get specialties later - it can wait!

i'll be coming back for more! ;)
meantime enjoy your hols - you've deserved them thoroughly!

Tiny Shrink said...

I mentioned the word "family" to an attending I was asking for advice on choosing a career and he totally flipped his lid. He was a residency coordinator (not at my school) and totally went off on women having babies in residency, don't they know that makes life harder for everyone else? I mean, what if they need bed rest for 9 months? DON'T THEY UNDERSTAND???

That said, most programs are cool with women having children in residency. Depending on how much time you take off, you may need to make up time at the end, so it's not like you get all these extra "months off" that the men don't get (at least that's how it works in the US). Sure, there can be call irregularities, so you might want to buy your classmates something nice since they covered for you.

So yeah, I definitely don't want to be 40 and trying to have my first child. It's hard on you, your partner, the kid, etc. Not to mention how amazingly expensive IVF is--many couples go through multiple cycles at around $20,000 each. For that amount, you could adopt.

Midwife with a Knife said...

IVF success rates actually aren't that bad. They depend on age, the reason for infertility, even the center you're having IVF at; but in general they're around 30-40% per cycle. Then, if you had a good cycle (ie made a lot of eggs) but didn't get pregnant, they can freeze the embryos and then you can have a "frozen" cycle with the frozen embroys, and thereby increase fertility rates even more.

This is the reason why the Maternal-Fetal Medicine docs think that IVF docs should only put 1 embryo back at a time.

medstudentitis said...

MWWAK: I am all for single embryo transfer, but the crux of the whole thing in my opinion is that if you're going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars per cycle, 30% doesn't seem that great to me. Also, I understand younger women having IVF a lot better than older women whose eggs probably aren't the best having IVF and I really don't understanding IVF with donor eggs... why not just adopt. I know it's your partner's sperm, but, what's so important about genetics anyway?

Anonymous said...

Leave it to me to stumble on a blog for the first time and get peeved at a post.

I've got much to say, none of it particularly nice, so I'll say nothing.

Sign me,

32 year old mom of 5 year old IVF twins.