Sunrise compares IVF to gambling on the pokies
INFERTILITY can be a touchy subject at the best of times. Just like you don't ask your childless friends when they're going to start having babies, you also shouldn't make assumptions about the reasons why a couple may be having difficulties conceiving.
A recent panel discussion on Channel 7's Sunrise has sparked online outrage among the IVF community.
This has led to a number of complaints posted to the show's social media accounts and a Change.org petition.
The segment featured guest panellists from various forms of media (interestingly, no IVF specialists were present) discussing how some women are so desperate to fall pregnant, they choose to have multiple IVF cycles, despite the emotional and financial costs involved.
Emblazoned across the screen were the words: "ADDICTED TO IVF", "Hopeful mums blowing life savings chasing the 'win' of birth" and "IVF like betting on pokies".
After some positive insights, like news.com.au's Melissa Hoyer acknowledging the "emotional and physically incredibly draining process," the discussion seemed to venture off onto shaky ground.
The panel discussed the idea of a "try limit" of nine or ten cycles, and although Smooth FM's Ron Wilson admitted he doesn't know enough about it to put a limit on it like that, he said "perhaps there should".
The panel went on to make broad sweeping assumptions about couples that engage IVF specialists, and reasons for infertility.
"The main inhibitors are age and stress and both of those are things you can deal with," said Ron Wilson, who went on to suggest couples simply relax.
Thankfully, Monique pointed out how irritating such comments are, and how difficult it can be to relax, particularly when someone is telling you to do so.
Viewers complained on the show's Facebook page, sparking discussion among families who have firsthand knowledge of the IVF process:
"The story on ivf is a joke sunrise you need to check yourselves," posted one.
Another former viewer said her and her husband are no longer going to watch the show: "Obviously four 'adults' that have no idea what it's like to be told you are more than likely facing a lifetime without the one thing you want more than anything. The one thing your body should be able to do and yet breaks your heart every month."
There were clearly many hurt parents, and even Fertility SA stepped in to comment: "We think you got this one wrong Sunrise. Call us when you'd like science and fact, rather than opinion and misinformation. We'd be happy for one of our Fertility Specialists to discuss what infertility and IVF really means and dispel some of these myths."
Not surprisingly, an online petition began doing the rounds urging Sunrise to apologise to their audience over the insensitive way the topic has been handled.
"IVF was discussed with incorrect facts and in an inconsiderate nature," the petition says.
The petition, which now has over 10,000 signatures, goes on to demand an apology, correct the incorrect facts relating to stress causing infertility, and interview an actual expert and someone who has personal experience with IVF.
Tammy from Springsure, QLD told Kidspot that she had 10 rounds of IVF before welcoming her now three-year-old daughter.
"I was 28 when we first started going through IVF and my husband was 31, so we definitely didn't leave it too late with age," she said.
"We were out of pocket by nearly $60,000 after all the tests, appointments, surgeries and medication," said Tammy. "I don't believe that I was ever 'addicted' to IVF and in all honesty had any of them truly known someone that had gone through IVF they would understand how callous such a comment is."
"On the other suggestions ('just don't stress' or 'just don't think about it') ... how do you stop thinking about something that is so extremely important to you?"
Tammy said both her and her husband considered other options like adopting or fostering children, but those options are also very difficult, particularly given Australian laws.
She described the desire for children as "draining emotionally, mentally and financially," but said without hesitation that she has never regretted "a second of it or a single penny".
"Every heartbreak and tear was worth the little girl that is currently asleep on my lap," said Tammy, who went on to conceive her second child naturally.
Aiden is now two years old, but the memories of just how difficult the process can be are still clear in her mind.
Kidspot reached out to Dr Knight of Demeter Fertility, and this is what he had to say on the matter:
"The way in which fertility treatment was portrayed on the recent Sunrise program was disappointing. Human reproduction works in a particular way, and in 2018, science and medicine remain limited in the capacity to change eggs that can't make babies into ones that can. Medicine relies on the woman to provide an egg that will make a baby, their desired outcome.
"Probably the largest psychological drive of humans is the drive to procreate. This is inbuilt into almost all species, we are no different. This drive can be expressed in very different degrees in different people, influenced by family, culture and society. I think that the suggestion that women become addicted to fertility treatment, without any factual evidence to state this, is at the very least, incredibly disrespectful to those women who continue to want a family desperately, and haven't succeeded in doing so.
"This can be a difficult journey, and many do not reach their destination. Perhaps it's a shame that the effects of this treatment for many cannot be transferred so that others have a fuller understanding, and tolerance to those undertaking treatment."
Kidspot has contacted Sunrise for comment.
This article appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.