Monday, 8 December 2014

Do you want fries with that?

We are about to finalise treatment at the new clinic. We're getting standard ICSI, but then, thanks to private medicine, we also have an array of extras.

It kind of reminds me of those relatively expensive Mexican fast food places, where cheese and chilli sauce come as standard with a burrito but if you pick the jalapenos and other extra things you find out it all adds up.

I don't want to write the particular technology that the clinic are pushing as there are only so many clinics that do it, but it seems to be heavily patented and its logo appears everywhere, from the screens in the reception area to the consultant's mouse mat. It gives them a better idea of what is happening so in certain circumstances better embryos can be put back, rather than actually helping the embryos.

I'd seen the fucking thing advertised everywhere in the clinic to the point that I believed it must be standard, but no, it costs the best part of a thousand pounds more for - based on a statistically invalid sample size - a six per cent improvement on odds.

Then there are other extras - I never thought I'd be paying someone to... what's the word... traumatise my womb lining. But that is now a thing.

Then there are options around extra drugs, and acupuncture and all the rest.

I had a root around the internet and none of the add ons seem to be backed up by much data. There are a couple of studies with a few hundred participants.

Last time round I would have spent hours researching all this, obsessing over it and then probably paying for it all too.

Part of the reason why I'm more cynical is that at least one of the things that were touted as a wonder solution during our first cycle - aspirin - is now meant to do more harm than good. In five years time the contract for the technology the clinic are pushing now will have run out, or they'll have bought another fancy bit of equipment, and they'll be encouraging patients to do something else.

Granted, some of it might boost your chances a bit, but I've yet to see any of the treatments that are press released to great fanfare getting over the 50% success rate mark, at least in a reliable study with more than a thousand participants and a control group.

I know from bitter experience that no treatment is guaranteed - essentially, you're paying for something that gives you a reasonable chance of getting pregnant and that's all. A burrito is a burrito and I'm wondering if I really need the sour cream on top and extra nachos.


  1. Interesting to see that aspirin is now a no-no. Your post reminded me of the "big business" posts Pamela has been writing recently about the infertility industry. Good luck deciding - at least you are able to look at the studies yourself, and understand whether they are statistically significant or not, and that will help you decide. Whereas someone who was less able to understand, or less interested in finding out, might just feel pressured to take it all.

  2. Sometimes some sour cream is good, but too much of a good thing is bad? As with all things IF, you need to figure out what you want and want to pay for. ICSI was used in our last cycle and what finally helped us, I believe (along with everything else working out just right). Good luck!

  3. Can you believe you wrote "standard ICSI" ? For our last (DE) IVF cycle it was indeed thrown in, as was a sprinkling of aspirin and prednisone. But I believe at the beginnig of our IF journey ICSI was still special, only used for mf.
    Is it time yet to wish you calm and good luck?

  4. no news.... means no news....?
    thinking of you.