High Doses of Hormones in IVF Hurting Women and Children

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Jul 20, 2012   |   11:15AM   |   Washington, DC

Cattle. Livestock to be pumped with hormones, their health be damned, to produce a valuable product. I am convinced this is how the fertility industry sees women.

The New York Times has an article on “high-dose IVF” that seems to bolster my opinion. In the United States and in the UK, IVF practitioners flood women with high doses of hormones to get as many eggs as possible. Even though this is not good for the health of the women or the children that result, and there is a low-dose alternative that is cheaper and better for mother and child, these IVF docs cling to the high doses approach because it means higher “success rates.” From the article:

OHSS [ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome] is a little-known complication of fertility treatments that rely on high doses of hormones, which are standard in the United States and the United Kingdom; the syndrome is not the only health problem to be linked to in vitro fertilization. Fertility clinics in Europe and Japan have turned to a safer, low-dose form of IVF, but clinics here have largely resisted on the grounds that the success rates for low-dose IVF are not as high.

“Pregnancy rates are lower, and more cycles of IVF are necessary” with low-dose IVF, said Dr. Glenn L. Schattman, a fertility doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

But some critics are urging the industry to reconsider.

“Mild stimulation is clearly much healthier for women,” said Francine Coeytaux, founder of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles. “The reason hyper-stimulation happened is because these fertility clinics compete against each other by posting their success rates.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, high-dose stimulation leads to OHSS in 10 percent of IVF patients. The ovaries become swollen and, as in Ms. Demidon’s case, can leak fluid into the chest and abdomen. Symptoms can range from mild to serious; in rare cases, OHSS can be life-threatening.

A recent inquiry into maternal deaths in the United Kingdom found that OHSS following high-dose IVF is now one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in England and Wales.

Read that again. High-dose IVF: a leading cause of maternal mortality. Ten percent get OHSS. Ten percent!!! That is ten out of every 100 women. With millions of women having undergone IVF…well you do the math. What craziness is this?

What a reckless disregard for the health of both infertile women, egg donors and the precious product, the children! But this is par for the course in the fertility industry. See if it works first, then ask questions about the health ramifications later as evidenced by the creation of genetically modified children by IVF a decade ago.

Guinea pigs. That must be what we women look like to fertility docs because it seems they don’t care to look into what these drugs do to us or our children long term:

One recent study suggested that high-dose IVF contributes to lower birth weights, compared with the babies of women who receive minimal doses of hormones. And experts have debated for decades whether IVF contributes to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer; studies have reached conflicting conclusions.

Lupron, used to suppress the ovaries, has raised concerns as well. The drug is approved to treat prostate cancer; its use in IVF is off-label (meaning it is not FDA-approved for this purpose). Thousands of women have reported adverse reactions, including memory loss, liver disorders, bone loss and severe muscle, joint and bone pain, said Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public interest group in Berkeley, Calif.

“Lots of drugs are used off-label, but is this use appropriate?” said Ms. Darnovsky. “Considering the number of women who’ve taken these drugs over the past 25 years, you’d think much more rigorous studies and analysis would have been done on them.”

You would think. But this is more evidence that the fertility industry is not about women’s health. It is about human manufacturing to specifications.

Let me remind readers that there is an alternative to IVF for infertility. NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) is the ethical way to treat infertility. Developed by Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, NaPro Technology focuses on a woman’s reproductive health and “provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system.” Thirty years of studying hormonal changes in a woman’s cycle and the underlying causes of infertility has culminated in an alternative way to treat infertility that does not replace sexual intercourse or create life outside the body.



NaPro Technology has great results as well. NaProTechnology has been shown to be 3 times more effective than IVF. Couples that failed with IVF succeeded with NaPro Technology. It is cheaper than IVF, does not require egg retrieval, and since it treats the underlying cause of infertility, it allows for couples to get pregnant again and again. NaPro Technology has also been proven effective in preventing miscarriage and premature births. To find a NaPro Technology provider near you visit The Fertility Care Centers of America.