The Death of Birth — Our Dismal Fertility Rates

Through Collapsed Fertility Rates, We Are Self-Exterminating

Reproductive Technologies: Hopes and Disappointments I

Reproductive technologies offer some hope for increasing fertility rates. Though the number of additional births that result from the use of such advanced methods may be small, they promise at least a little relief from our current demographic dilemma. Unfortunately, these technologies are far from perfect and often end in disappointment for those who rely on them. A number of recent articles emphasize this fact.

According to this essay, “Women worried about being unable to get pregnant as they grow older should not be offered the chance to have their eggs frozen, because the procedure is still unproven, a group of influential fertility doctors said yesterday (October 17, 2007).” It seems the doctors are concerned that women may be given false hope because successful pregnancies are rare, when based on fertilization of eggs that were extracted by drug stimulation of ovaries, surgical removal of the eggs, and subsequent freezing. The article goes on to state, “At best, the chance of a woman having a live birth from a single thawed out egg is just 2%,” while 10 to 12 eggs are collected in a typical removal.

The objections are not to the removal of eggs from women about to undergo a procedure, such as chemotherapy, which has a high probability of damaging fertility, but to treating young women who are concerned about delaying childbearing until their fertility has begun serious decline in their mid-30s. By the age of 40, a woman’s eggs have suffered so much genetic damage that the miscarriage rate reaches 40%.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has now advised clinics to halt the service for healthy women and to provide extensive counseling for those who insist on the measures. The chair of the society’s practice committee, Mark Fritz, stated, “The sole purpose of this advice is to prevent women from being exploited.” The article also says, “Figures from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority show 3,602 eggs have been frozen in UK fertility clinics since 1999. Of those, 483 have been thawed to use in fertility treatment, but only four babies have been born as a result.”

On the other hand, the medical director of Midland Fertility Services, Gillian Lockwood, states that she would prefer to treat a woman in her younger 40s with eggs frozen when she was 35, than with her current 40-something year old eggs. The success rate is far too low using eggs of this age and older. Unfortunately, Lockwood adds, “Many of those women have been with commitment-phobic men,” without considering the reasons that men might steer clear of marriage and parenthood in a time of unprecedentedly high divorce rates, when many perceive extreme anti-male prejudice in courts, where divorce settlements and access to children are determined.

Perhaps the procedure should be offered to young women, but it makes sense for fertility clinics to ensure that those women know the risks of reduced fertility with aging as well as the low probability of successful IVF using frozen eggs. For additional information on this topic, see here.

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.