Do you ever worry about the long term effects of fertility treatments? I'm talking about the physical effects here, not the emotional effects (maybe fodder for a different post). It is something that has been loitering in the back of my mind for months now. I say loitering because I don't want those thoughts there. If I am to keep trying this I can't really worry all the time about what the drugs, the process or the science will do to me or our future children long term. But the thoughts are there just the same.
There are so many unnatural pieces to IVF-all of it really-and I'm not talking about this in a religious sense. We (the women) are given higher levels of hormones than we would normally produce on our own. Our ovaries are first suppressed and then forced to produce more follicles in one month than we might produce over 15-25 months. The lining of the uterus is then built up with hormone supplements to prepare for implantation.
And then there are the antibiotics taken as a preventative measure without any indication of an infection (does anyone ever worry about immunity here?), the autoimmune suppressants, the steroids and the list goes on and on. Not to mention the invasive egg retrieval procedure and countless ultrasounds and blood draws. Can it be healthy to have a camera taking pictures inside you so often? Then there's the question as to what fertilization in a culture medium does long term, whether accomplished "naturally" or through ICSI. What about cryopreservation and thawing?
And yet the doctors don't talk about this much because nothing has really been proven. IVF has been around for quite some time now. The first "test tube" baby was born in 1978 and she will be 30 this year. That is 30 years of possible observations of the effects of IVF on the resulting baby and the hormone-stuffed mother.
I'll admit I haven't taken the time to do much research on what researchers HAVE discovered on the long-term effects. And part of me has no interest in this. I am (sort of) blindly plowing forward just hoping this will work. Willing to take whatever long term risks might be there because I'm more afraid of the long term risks of not having a family and not realizing my dreams. I have a hunch that many women undergoing IVF feel the same way.
Today's photo journal challenge theme is:
I leave you with some photo's taken by B in Washington D.C. about a year ago. I was busy at a conference in a dreary hotel basement while B did some sightseeing in our nation's capital.
10 hours ago