Women are sold on the idea that doctors help. But what if it’s just a sales pitch? It’s about time someone told you the truth about what to expect as an older female, or woman of advanced maternal age, when you go to a fertility clinic for help, especially with fertility clinics having reporting considerations which may be deceptive. When a woman walks through the door of a fertility clinic, there are dollar signs over her head.
What you want is to get help getting pregnant with your own eggs, an already expensive procedure. What you get is pressure to use donor eggs, an even more expensive procedure. It doesn’t matter sometimes how many times you tell your doctor that you want to try with your own eggs, or that you had a traumatic past and didn’t find a relationship sooner, or have great genes that you want to pass on, the pressure to use donor eggs is outrageously high.
Why? Doctors have to report their statistics to the CDC. Not only are their statistics with older women horrible, they don’t want you using your own eggs because there is more money to be made with donor eggs and the statistics with a younger woman’s eggs are much better. The greater success rate with donor eggs means preservation of their statistics. Never mind that you want your own biological child when the doctor has a business to preserve and statistics to think about. That’s right, a fertility clinic is a business and don’t you forget it. And the malpractice runs the gamut from cherry-picking which patients they will treat to forcing women into procedures they might not want, all the while wasting valuable reproductive time which can’t be recovered.
It’s shocking because this doesn’t happen with other elective procedures. If you go to a doctor because you want breast augmentation/reduction or a nose job, weight loss surgery, or gender reassignment, you plunk down your money to purchase that procedure. Some elective procedures are even covered by insurance such that the cost to the patient is minimal. Need of the procedure is often weighted with age, development, maturity, and psychological readiness/completeness. With sex reassignment, the waiting period is 1 year in which you must live life as the intended gender. Weight loss surgery candidates go through behavior modification classes. But what if you need to try to become pregnant with your own eggs for your psychological completeness?
A fertility clinic is the only place where one is pressured to raise what is basically someone else’s child – even if that’s not what is wanted. The doctor’s recommendation does not often consider whether or not this move might be psychologically harmful or guidelines of what factors a clinic must base this decision on. Instead, they focus on the pregnancy as being a time of bonding for mother and baby. Unlike a breast enlargement or a nose job or even sex reassignment, there are no psychological factors involved in the doctor’s recommended services. The CDC does not require this, nor does the medical board.
Once you are of a certain age, it seems you are not allowed to elect which services you want to purchase. You may ask the doctor to save your eggs and be told that everything is better from fresh. You may want to purchase as many cycles as it takes to have a child with your own eggs, but the doctor won’t want that kind of failure rate for the statistics he must report. The chances of a pregnancy go up with donor eggs from a younger woman. But the failure rates are still very high with donor eggs – especially for women in their 40s.
What fertility clinics should be offering to all women, regardless of their age, is a menu of services to choose from based on their own unique needs, wants, preferences, moral imperatives, and psychological health factors. Instead, doctors force their own will on often desperate and vulnerable patients who may be highly suggestible, or waste valuable reproductive time trying to pressure and cajole an unwilling patient into a service she doesn’t want.
A woman might be pressured endlessly that donor eggs are the only option, when the reality is that it’s the option that is most convenient, easiest, and creates the greatest financial gain for the doctor while preserving his statistics. Either way, doctors line their pockets with kickbacks for expensive prescriptions which are not covered by insurance or even pressure patients to obtain covered prescriptions from full price fertility pharmacies where doctors get additional commission kickbacks.
Some women feel that carrying on their genetic heritage is very important to them. The idea that a couple is “in need” of these donor eggs might actually not be true. If anything, it seems that the doctor is in need of pressuring you to bend to his will. Surprise babies have happened for thousands of years. It may take longer to obtain viable eggs, but it may be possible. But the greater number of cycles to get to this pregnancy is just not what a fertility clinic will want to do.
In the animal kingdom, there is a potential equivalent to observe. The cowbird is a “brood parasite” which means it does not raise its own young, but leaves its eggs in another bird’s nest to be raised by them. Some nesting mothers are wise to it, and reject the parasitic bird’s eggs by abandonment or tossing out the eggs, or even the nestlings after they hatch. If a bird can’t put it past all those birds, why would anyone think that all humans would accept donor eggs just because some are thrilled by the prospect? For others it might be daily torture knowing that a child isn’t really theirs and is only her partner’s genetic material. Are there psychological costs like these on a human scale? There are no studies which show reasons why a woman would reject the procedure, nor are there studies which show satisfaction with the procedure.
The doctor might say heinous things to make his sale like, “You could be pregnant right now if you would use donor eggs.” Or, “I’ve found in my experience that once a woman is pregnant, she is so happy that she doesn’t care that it isn’t her biological child.” Remember how fertility clinics are a business? Making a sale for services is a part of running that business. But in this business, the doctor’s services involve creating human life.
And it’s a false economy for the doctor when what the patient really wants is the peace that can only come from trying to become pregnant with her own eggs – using every last egg in hopes of having her own biological child. Some are willing to spend tens of thousands to that end, paying for extra egg extractions – even if it means a few failures. The CDC should require not just statistical reporting, but should force doctors to consider greater psychological, moral, and ethical issues which are important to raising a human child – as important as gender reassignment or other cosmetic procedures which can be life-altering.
Women need to be aware of the real possibilities and the absolute callousness with which some doctors conduct their business. The best place for a female in her 40s to go to is a research or teaching hospital at a university where they might take hard cases specifically to advance fertility science through a research opportunity. There the statistics matter very little. And since money is not the doctor’s motivating factor in providing treatment, women stand a much better chance of obtaining the treatment they really want.