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More Talk About IVF Cost - $47,000 and No Baby - As Reported in Elle Blog Feature
Lisa Rosenthal

By: Lisa Rosenthal on January 22nd, 2014

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More Talk About IVF Cost - $47,000 and No Baby - As Reported in Elle

pregnancy | SART | CCS - Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening | Fertility Treatment

IVF Cost - Lies About Infertility Treatment?

ivf cost - questions about fertility treatmentI’m going to push back a little. It may turn out that I will be pushing back a lot. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the lies about fertility treatment, specifically IVF cost and money. And hope.

Latest article in Elle online: "$47,000 Dollars Later, I Have No Baby: The IVF Scam," by Ali Margo. Ali is very specific with who and what deceived her. Maybe it’s because it’s the scientific protocol that RMACT uses that raised my hackles. After all, I wrote last week about "The Big Lie," (See my blog about the book The Big Lie, Motherhood, Feminism and the Reality of the Biological Clock) and I supported what the author said. In some ways.

I feel a little like something is being discovered that was discovered a long time ago. That old joke about Columbus “discovering” America, when the Indians (as they prefer to be called in Arizona) were already living here. What did we really discover?

This isn’t making much sense yet. Here’s what I’m trying to say.

$47,000 is a boatload of money to spend on a product that you don’t get. If I were paying for a car or a boat, I’d expect to pay my money and have my product.

Fertility Treatment Is a Service

Fertility treatment is not actually a product; it’s more akin to a service or even a series of services. Without a doubt, the hope is that the services result in a product; a baby (a successful pregnancy). Still, there is no one out there, that I know of, that guarantees the product; a baby.

Doesn’t this all sound a lot like a business? Yes, sigh, unfortunately. I won’t go into whether other medical fields/treatments are also businesses; I’ll save that for another day.

Here’s something to consider though. We are buying services with fertility treatment. We are buying treatment. Not a guarantee about successful pregnancies resulting in babies. Not buying the end product. And just to be crystal clear, I agree with all the conversations whirling around that we do not talk enough about the patient who leaves treatment unsuccessfully; without their baby. I rarely, if ever, bold a statement in a blog. Maybe twice in over four years of writing five days a week. So if there’s only one take-away message from today’s blog, please let it be that I agree whole heartedly with the message in this blog and so much else that is being discussed in the infertility world; we do not talk enough about patients that leave treatment unfulfilled.

Pregnancy Rates - Clarity About IVF Scams

What I feel like pushing back about is this: when we are told about treatment, we hear numbers. Percentages. We are told that there is a 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% or any other number per cent chance that we could achieve a sucessful pregnancy. That leaves us to understand that directly opposite are the chances of not becoming pregnant. A 70% chance, 60% chance, 50% chance, all the way down to a 20% chance of not becoming pregnant, if you are lucky.

I know we don’t all get that. And that sometimes, in some clinics, we don’t even get told that. (Shame, shame, shame on fertility practices that don’t tell the truth about the chances and non-chances of pregnancy.) But please, please, please. Let’s not pretend that the information isn’t out there. These authors have not discovered something brand new. They really haven’t. If you’re at a fertility program or with a physician (or naturopath or acupuncturist, or reiki master, or yoga instructor) who does not share the possibility that you will not become pregnant in treatment with them, then they are not being honest or candid with you. Shame on them, absolutely.

But please. And I am using the word “but” here very deliberately, knowing that it negates what comes before it. I’m also saying please, trying to be polite. Another truth is that information abounds. It is so abundant. There is a book at least once a year about how fertility treatment doesn’t work. There are articles, blogs, message boards, and more, that speak to the fact that fertility treatment is very expensive and that it often doesn’t work. If you are going into fertility treatment, it is near to impossible to not hear the rampant conversations that go on about fertility treatment, success rates and cost.

In the most respectful way possible, how far does one need to stick one’s head in the sand to NOT know that fertility treatment doesn’t always work? And that you still need to pay for services?

Here’s a quote from Ali Margo’s blog, “The odds for women over 42 are so low some clinics won’t even offer IVF to women of that age—so why would anyone in their right mind even consider it?” Good question. Isn’t that responsible of those clinics? However there are many fertility programs that do offer IVF to 42 year old women, because even with the odds against them, women do get pregnant and that’s also their choice. I would like to add that with CCS, (Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening), which RMACT offers, the chances of pregnancy are as high as 70%. For the most recent pregnancy rates from RMACT, visit SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology) and click here.

We come down to hope. I love what Ms. Margo had to say about that, “But what they don't realize is that not only did we run out of money, we ran out of something far more important—hope.  Even there, though, it has been my experience for the last two-and-a-half decades that hope is a renewable resource. Sometimes, often, much more so than money, hope replenishes itself. I see and experience over and over again, in the trenches with women trying to become pregnant, that hope bottoms out, only to fill again. And again and again.

I wish that Ms. Margo had been treated more gently and lovingly at the fertility practice that she was using. She deserved a phone call or more; she deserved compassionate attention. We all deserve that when news is as catastrophic as the news that she got was; 20 embryos, none of which survived. My heart goes out to her, having to leave treatment without her hoped for baby. It hurts that not everyone leaves with a baby. It really, really hurts; deep down inside in places that you feel will never stop aching.

I admire, support and will continue in these conversations because it brings me back to another point that I want men and women to hear about this. One that I consider crucial and shows us the way to survive. We need to leave as intact human beings. We may not get what we are hoping for or what we think we paid for; still, we need to leave being able to recognize ourselves in the mirror. And if that is not possible, then we need to leave with the tools to create a meaningful and loving life for ourselves.

With or without a baby.  

Read the Elle article I reference: "$47,000 Dollars Later, I Have No Baby: The IVF Scam"

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About Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.