20 December, 2016

Infertility in the news

It was refreshing, yet saddening, to see the front page of my newspaper this morning talking about infertility. As we are the capital city of New Zealand, politics usually dominates, so I was surprised to see fertility issues highlighted on the front page, dwarfing the article next to it on the latest Cabinet reshuffle. Specifically, the article mentioned that there is now a shortage in funding for fertility treatments, as a result of dramatically increased demand just over the last couple of years, and the resulting long waiting lists for even an initial assessment. I’m not sure why the demand has increased so much (by about 25% in some centres) in such a short time, and they didn’t delve into it, which I thought was poor journalism, but then it wasn’t a feature article in a magazine.

Typically, and annoyingly, they included an example of a couple which had a natural pregnancy whilst waiting for IVF, but the paper did get criticised for this in the online comments.

What was heartening though, was the open discussion both in the article and in the comments of how stressful and difficult infertility can be, how expensive IVF is, how IVF isn’t the only fertility treatment, how we can’t “just adopt” here in New Zealand, and how easily the fertile dismiss this as unimportant, at the same time as they laud the crucial role of being parents in society. There were usual comments about “this isn’t life-threatening so why are we funding it” or “just adopt” or “if you can’t conceive naturally then you shouldn’t be allowed to under IVF because it perpetrates defective genes,” but the responses to these pointed out the issues and inaccuracies with these arguments clearly and succinctly.

In general it seemed to be a reasonably civilised conversation about the issue, which highlighted fertility as an issue that affects a lot of people and can be very distressing, and that, I guess, is all we can ever ask for.


  1. I also get the impression that fertility issues are on the rise, I wonder why. Sounds like the comments were pretty balanced on that article which is good. I always hate when I see something about IVF and then read of the horrible clueless things some people write in the comments! Such as about adopting or that there are already enough children in this world and we shouldn't bring any more into it!

  2. I would love to know what is prompting such rises: 25% is a lot. What's that about? Yes it almost makes me laugh (bitterly) when infertility is dismissed outright e.g. "Come back when you're actually dying of something", at the same time as parenthood is lauded and fetishised and given a crucial role in society (whilst single/childless people are nothing). It makes no sense at all. I hate the comments but I'm drawn towards them like a magnet... Sometimes they can make you feel better, but I do still hate the "My children are my world and the joy is incomparable" ones.

  3. All the marketing with shiny happy people with their babies is paying off, I guess. Meanwhile, there are all of us that they keep trying to silence or shame us because you know, we didn't try hard enough... or something like that. Argh...

  4. It's a low bar, but it's always nice to hear when the conversation clears it.

    1. Yes, it's depressing when we're satisfied with such low standards, isn't it?

  5. Yay for an article. :)
    I too have had the impression that fertility issues are on the rise. It could be just that there are more options these days than there used to be AND that more people are talking about it. But I know several friends that have had issues and also friends of friends too.

  6. I'm glad it was an interesting conversation and made the news, but WOW. Way to highlight the urban legend (that we actually all know real people it's happened to, but still, not the usual outcome) of the natural pregnancy while you wait. And holy hell what vitriol to say it's perpetrating defective genes and all that "just adopt" hoo ha. I live in a country where adoption is much more accessible, and there is no "just" about it (17 months into waiting). I'm glad it's being discussed, but it seems to always bring out that awful dichotomy of Parenthood Is Great (but only if you can do it easily, otherwise shove off). The rise is interesting, I was always mystified by the high numbers of teachers and nurses in support groups at my clinic, and wonder if industrial cleaners/disinfectants play a role. For sure there must be something environmental afoot. Definitely worthy of a follow-up article, right?