No Good Newwz: IVF Clinics Oversell Hope in the Baby Business

No Good Newwz: Success rates plastered in popular IVF clinics in your city are exaggerated and highly misleading.

Updated
Her Health
5 min read
Fertility declines, in some cases more rapidly than others & fertility clinics sell hopes in packages while cherry picking the successful results.
i
Snapshot

When a movie starring Kareena Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh is based on the theme of IVF, one can be sure that it will be a feel-good film. But here's what Good Newwz is missing. That the IVF business can also sometimes be a whole bunch of bad news.

At 36, the last thing Shweta expected was to spread her legs in stirrups for some technician to prick and poke her privates with needles and tubes in ways considered unimaginable.

After several miscarriages, more than 50 hormone injections, two invasive procedures, and over 15 months of emotional and physical slog, this Mumbai girl, now a Hong Konger, worries if she waited too long. She spent the early years of her marriage doing her darndest not to get pregnant and then when at 34, she started trying for a family, nature refused to cooperate.

Fertility declines, in some cases more rapidly than others. But there’s been a rise in the number of fertility clinics that sell hope in packages while cherry picking the successful results.

Like nature, technology is unforeseeable. So it’s important to understand what you are getting into and make an informed choice.

No Good Newwz: IVF Clinics Oversell Hope in the Baby Business

  1. 1. IVF Clinics Oversell Fertility Fantasies

    There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility.
    There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility.
    (Photo: iStock)

    Since 1978, more than 5 million babies across the world were born via IVF. Remarkable, right? But technology has failed more than 20 million women worldwide in the same four decades!

    There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility but data from Europe finds that for every 15 lakh IVF cycles, only 3.5 lakh result in a live birth. That’s a global fail rate of 77 percent. (Source: Journal European Society of Human Reproduction)

    Contrast this with the success results plastered in many popular IVF clinics in your city – exaggerated and highly misleading. Clearly, vulnerable, weary, desperate couples are being misled by the industry which weeds out failures and combs and constructs data to paint a meaningless, false picture. 

    A complete lack of IVF laws in India mean that clinics are free to do so.

    Expand
  2. 2. Is 35 a Fertility Cliff?

    Fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so.
    Fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so.
    (Photo: iStock)

    Time is a slow killer, it’s dreadful and one day will kill us all but when it comes to making children, the panic linked to it is highly overblown.

    Popular literature which marks 35 as a plunging year for fertility is heavily based on a study published in the 2004 medical journal, Human Reproduction, which found that without medical aid, 75 percent of 30-year-olds get pregnant within a year of trying, compared with 66 percent of 35-year-olds, while the odds for 40-year-olds stand at 44%. Alarming, right? 

    Now the snag – the data on which this study is based comes from 17th century French church records!

    17th century was centuries ago!

    I KNOW!? No BIGGIE!

    That said, fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so – but if you’re not, then what help are centuries old, archaic statistics?  
    Expand
  3. 3. When Is IVF Most Successful?

    Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years.
    Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years.
    (Photo: AP)

    Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years. So when is the right time to enter the assisted reproduction clinic?

    See an expert sooner rather than later. If you are under the 35, IVF works roughly 3 out of 10 times. That hope goes down to more than nearly 27% for women between the ages 35 and 37. After that, it tanks to 20% in late thirties and only 13% once you cross 40.
    Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility
    Expand
  4. 4. Not All Embryos Will Survive the Ice Age

    Egg freezing is fascinating in theory, especially for cancer patients where the treatment jeopardises fertility. But these advances come with limitations.

    Large-scale studies done by the New York University have found only a 15 percent success rate of egg freezing in America. That means only 15 out of 100 frozen eggs resulted in live births in this study in the USA which boasts of much finer technology than India.
    If you’re in a stable relationship, then freeze embryos rather than single eggs for a much better success rate. And freeze them young. Frozen eggs after the age of 40 have a less than 10% chance of translating in a healthy birth while those between 30 and 35 years have a 50% success rate.
    Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility
    The process of freezing eggs is intensive, expensive, and grueling and comes without a guarantee.
    The process of freezing eggs is intensive, expensive, and grueling and comes without a guarantee.
    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)
    The process involves injecting your belly with multiple rounds of hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries, ovulation trigger medication to ‘mature’ the eggs, and then an intrusive, painful extraction procedure.

    Diana Hayden gave the glam lift to egg freezing in India but the whole process is intensive, expensive, and gruelling and comes without a guarantee.

    Expand
  5. 5. Fertility Tests Are a Thriving Business But Are (Mostly) Useless

    Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.
    Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.
    (Photo: iStock)

    Ovarian reserve tests are selling like hot cakes in India’s metropolises. Shell out Rs 1,500 and women get an insight into the current and future fertility possibilities. Some of these tests claim to be so advanced that they can predict when a woman is likely to go into menopause.

    But scientists are already debunking the accuracy of these tests. Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.

    A study in medical journal JAMA points towards the limitations of technology – even if we can foresee the number of eggs left in a woman’s ovaries to predict the date of menopause, it is impossible to foresee the quality of those eggs or how they will function after fertilisation.
    Expand
  6. 6. In the End, It’s Worth It (Or Maybe Not)

    Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.
    Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.
    (Photo: iStock)

    IVF can be like a merry-go-round with endless cycles of invasive surgeries, topped with a cocktail of drugs, pain, stress, loss and loneliness. Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.

    As for Shweta, she will fiercely chase the baby dream till there is even the slightest of a fighting chance left. And if it doesn’t happen? “Then I’ll just go back to living my life,” she says.

    (Make sure you don't miss fresh news updates from us. Click here to stay updated)

    Expand

IVF Clinics Oversell Fertility Fantasies

There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility.
There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility.
(Photo: iStock)

Since 1978, more than 5 million babies across the world were born via IVF. Remarkable, right? But technology has failed more than 20 million women worldwide in the same four decades!

There isn’t much pan-India data available on IVF because of the stigma which comes with infertility but data from Europe finds that for every 15 lakh IVF cycles, only 3.5 lakh result in a live birth. That’s a global fail rate of 77 percent. (Source: Journal European Society of Human Reproduction)

Contrast this with the success results plastered in many popular IVF clinics in your city – exaggerated and highly misleading. Clearly, vulnerable, weary, desperate couples are being misled by the industry which weeds out failures and combs and constructs data to paint a meaningless, false picture. 

A complete lack of IVF laws in India mean that clinics are free to do so.

Is 35 a Fertility Cliff?

Fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so.
Fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so.
(Photo: iStock)

Time is a slow killer, it’s dreadful and one day will kill us all but when it comes to making children, the panic linked to it is highly overblown.

Popular literature which marks 35 as a plunging year for fertility is heavily based on a study published in the 2004 medical journal, Human Reproduction, which found that without medical aid, 75 percent of 30-year-olds get pregnant within a year of trying, compared with 66 percent of 35-year-olds, while the odds for 40-year-olds stand at 44%. Alarming, right? 

Now the snag – the data on which this study is based comes from 17th century French church records!

17th century was centuries ago!

I KNOW!? No BIGGIE!

That said, fertility does decline in your 30s. Medically, the ‘optimum’ age to make a baby is in the 20s – that’s if you are emotionally, romantically, financially and practically in a position to do so – but if you’re not, then what help are centuries old, archaic statistics?  

When Is IVF Most Successful?

Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years.
Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years.
(Photo: AP)

Fertility problems affect one in ten Indians. Doctors have seen a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years. So when is the right time to enter the assisted reproduction clinic?

See an expert sooner rather than later. If you are under the 35, IVF works roughly 3 out of 10 times. That hope goes down to more than nearly 27% for women between the ages 35 and 37. After that, it tanks to 20% in late thirties and only 13% once you cross 40.
Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility

Not All Embryos Will Survive the Ice Age

Egg freezing is fascinating in theory, especially for cancer patients where the treatment jeopardises fertility. But these advances come with limitations.

Large-scale studies done by the New York University have found only a 15 percent success rate of egg freezing in America. That means only 15 out of 100 frozen eggs resulted in live births in this study in the USA which boasts of much finer technology than India.
If you’re in a stable relationship, then freeze embryos rather than single eggs for a much better success rate. And freeze them young. Frozen eggs after the age of 40 have a less than 10% chance of translating in a healthy birth while those between 30 and 35 years have a 50% success rate.
Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility
The process of freezing eggs is intensive, expensive, and grueling and comes without a guarantee.
The process of freezing eggs is intensive, expensive, and grueling and comes without a guarantee.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)
The process involves injecting your belly with multiple rounds of hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries, ovulation trigger medication to ‘mature’ the eggs, and then an intrusive, painful extraction procedure.

Diana Hayden gave the glam lift to egg freezing in India but the whole process is intensive, expensive, and gruelling and comes without a guarantee.

Fertility Tests Are a Thriving Business But Are (Mostly) Useless

Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.
Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.
(Photo: iStock)

Ovarian reserve tests are selling like hot cakes in India’s metropolises. Shell out Rs 1,500 and women get an insight into the current and future fertility possibilities. Some of these tests claim to be so advanced that they can predict when a woman is likely to go into menopause.

But scientists are already debunking the accuracy of these tests. Experts say that the results of these tests are not easy to interpret.

A study in medical journal JAMA points towards the limitations of technology – even if we can foresee the number of eggs left in a woman’s ovaries to predict the date of menopause, it is impossible to foresee the quality of those eggs or how they will function after fertilisation.

In the End, It’s Worth It (Or Maybe Not)

Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.
Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.
(Photo: iStock)

IVF can be like a merry-go-round with endless cycles of invasive surgeries, topped with a cocktail of drugs, pain, stress, loss and loneliness. Some couples get their happy endings. Many don’t.

As for Shweta, she will fiercely chase the baby dream till there is even the slightest of a fighting chance left. And if it doesn’t happen? “Then I’ll just go back to living my life,” she says.

(Make sure you don't miss fresh news updates from us. Click here to stay updated)

Published: 
Stay Up On Your Health

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter Now.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!