What are unethical practices in the IVF industry?
According to some studies, one in every six couples is infertile. This does not mean that they cannot have a baby of their own but means that they cannot do so without medical help. In cases of male infertility and female infertility where no exact cause can be found, assisted reproductive techniques such as In-vitro fertilization(IVF) is often advised.
A single IVF cycle is a long process and can take more than a month. This procedure can be undergone in hospitals as well as private clinics. IVF has helped to give birth to over 5 million babies. However, not everyone practicing IVF gives the couple's needs prime importance. Many clinics give their own profit margins more importance than the couple and indulge in unethical practices. Since the couples are vulnerable, many of them do not even realize what is happening. Hence, before you decide to undergo IVF at a clinic, here are a few unethical practices in IVF to watch out for.
Your Eggs are Not for Research
Though the first IVF baby was born in 1978, the science is still evolving. Hence, some clinics use their patient's eggs for research. This may be done with or without their consent. Even when the patient's consent is taken, it may not always be taken in the right way. Many couples give consent only because they feel that they may be given better treatment if they let the clinic use some of the eggs for research. Some clinics even mislead couples who come to them for treatment by promising a discounted rate for IVF is they give half their eggs for research.
Success Rates are Not Universal
IVF does not have universal success rates. The success rate of couples in their 20s is very different from couples in their 40s. Many clinics do not differentiate between these success rates when they speak to couples. When it comes to success rates, many clinics also fail to differentiate between the conception rate and birth rate. Conception rate refers to the number of cases where the couple successfully conceives through IVF. However, not all of these conceptions result in live births. By only mentioning a conception rate, clinics take advantage of a couple's vulnerability and trust in them to make them believe that they have a higher chance of having a baby than proven.
The gender of the baby is determined when the embryo is formed. Thus, it is possible to choose the gender of a baby before it is implanted into the mother's womb. The gender of a baby can be found out through a pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). These tests are expensive and actually ethically advised only if one or both parents is a carrier for a genetic disease. In developing countries like India that are already facing a lopsided sex ratio, using these tests to determine the gender of the baby is a major problem.
Thus, do not start the process blindly. Always choose a reputed IVF clinic or hospital for the treatment. The doctors in such a facility will always be transparent with you.