This is really interesting. And I agree - I think it speaks to how deeply we’ve internalised an idea that fertility is our personal responsibility, as women. Because that’s the messaging we receive, constantly. (It’s our age, it’s our weight, it’s our stress levels, it’s what we eat, on and on...) It keeps infertility - and also recurrent miscarriage, in my experience - from being seen as a more neutral medical matter like any other. What’s more, it lets societies off the hook in terms of how compelled they feel to support those going through fertility treatment - or fund it in the first place.

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As a lesbian (who had tried self-insemination at home then insemination via a clinic, plus three surgeries for dermoid cysts and endo), when I arrived at IVF I was excited and hopeful. I guess I knew from the outset that I couldn’t get pregnant within my relationship but needed external help, if just from a male acquaintance at first. So ivf didn’t feel like a blow.

At my clinic the retrieval and transfer were done while I was awake so it wasn’t a huge medical procedure that I needed a long recovery from.

I didn’t find the drugs affected me particularly badly - I want to say that so that women don’t feel they’re inevitably in for a rough ride.

I was very very lucky. The stats said 7% chance of a live baby at my age and I got him second go - he’s a very beautiful young adult now. My attempts for a second - four more cycles - were unsuccessful and even now so many years later I’m reading your articles with interest, as infertility leaves deep scars.

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Emma, thanks for again bringing an important perspective to the infertility conversation. I’ve recently been saying something similar.

The narrative around fertility still often persists with the idiotic ‘just relax and it will happen’ ideas. Which are infuriating. Would you tell someone recently diagnosed with a serious illness ‘just relax and it will cure itself’? No. Sometimes infertility patients do get pregnant spontaneously, after years of treatment or failure . There is a lot the science doesn’t know yet. But those cases are the outliers, not the norm.

I didn’t see IVF as something awful - I saw it as hope, even though I also knew it was far from a sure thing. But I hate the idea that it was ‘my choice’. Yes, true , we chose to go ahead with IVF - I know there are couples who can and choose not to, for whatever reason. But there are also unwell people in other areas of medicine who refuse treatment - and yet we still don’t view most medical treatment as a ‘choice’. I didn’t choose to have to deal with infertility - I just chose HOW to deal with it.


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Thanks Emma, very interesting at a time like this , for my husband and I. We have just finished a 3rd round of treatment and unfortunately I tested negative this morning. We are heartbroken of course, but keeping our hopes up, as we have 5 frozen embryo ready for us. We will have to go private now. Trying to keep positive even now, we will get there Pg. Thinking of asking if we can do any testing on the embryos we have.

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