Infertility: The Lie that Sells,The Price We Pay; Fertile Heart founder Julia Indichova responds to the NYT piece “Selling the Fantasy of Fertility

By on September 18, 2013

The authors of the NYT op-ed “Selling the Fantasy of Fertility,” were right on target when they pointed toward the seductive sales pitch of the infertility industry.

What Miriam Zoll (author of Cracked Open: Liberty, and the Pursuit of High Tech Babies) and Pamela Tsigdinos failed to spot is the elephant in the room, the lie at the center of the expanding global baby making industry: infertility is a disease.

A rising number of state of the art clinics, and the ongoing crusades of national infertility advocacy groups push forlegislation that will allow more people to afford IVF treatments,” which would, “improve the lives of infertile patients,” and help them, “gain control over this devastating disease.”  The message of the promotional videos is clear: infertility is a disease and IVF is the cure.

In close to two decades of fertility education and advocacy, I have come to recognize infertility as a symptom of myriad underlying  physical,  emotional, and, at times intangible obstacles.

The inability to conceive a child is one of the most emotionally significant challenges a woman can face.  When we view our circumstances through a lens of desperation it is easy to miss the subtle sleight of hand that occurs when IVF-sponsored consumer groups, bankrolled by the highly profitable industry, promise a way out of isolation.

The threat of childlessness can feel devastating; we are mourning the children we feel should be in our arms right now.  But this pain is the ache of unfulfilled longing, not a disease.

 Medical technology is a tool. It harms or heals depending on how we use it.

Among the couples I’ve worked with, the average length of trying to conceive has been 3 years, involving an average of 3 failed medical treatments. And even in this population I have witnessed women with as many as 14 failed medical treatments conceive naturally after less than a few months of a physical and emotional overhaul. 

Over the years, I have welcomed the arrival of many IVF-conceived babies with mothers who followed this path to motherhood attentive to internal cues.

I have also seen women, propelled by panic to reach for the big guns of IVF as a way of tuning out the body’s call for attention.

What if instead of perpetuating the lie of infertility as a devastating disease, we saw our childbearing difficulties as the attempt of the complex human organism to shield us from harm? What if we chose to hear it as a voice of a protective ally that says: Honey, having a baby is serious business. You’re not quite ready.

Could overriding the finely tuned authority of the endocrine system be setting us up for a serious health crisis later in life?

High tech reproduction is not going away.  As is always the case in a free market economy, the responsibility to be careful consumers lies with us. Unless we begin to do our own thinking and choosing, our love affair with medical technology will continue to supply the baby making business with a steady stream of eager buyers.  I agree with Miriam Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos that the promise of a quick fix is hard to resist. But buying into the lie of the label can indeed turn us into “fertility junkies.” Who can resist a cure when facing such a dreadful diagnosis?

Here’s a question for anyone who wishes to engage: what is the one symptom; one specific physical, emotional, or spiritual imbalance you’ve been able to discover through this difficult, and also mysterious  challenge full of wonder and yes, also, immense opportunities for healing?


13 Responses to “Infertility: The Lie that Sells,The Price We Pay; Fertile Heart founder Julia Indichova responds to the NYT piece “Selling the Fantasy of Fertility”

  1. Cheryl P says:

    I’ve had 3 years of infertility. I lost my son. I gave birth when I was 40, he was 29 days when he passed due to a hole in his intestine. I had a miscarriage six months later. Now 44. I gave a year to grief and depression, another year to grief depression and sadness, and a year to every fertility pill that “might” help only to screw up my cycles beyond belief. I’ve finally give up and given in to Faith. I’ve given in to Health. I’ve lost 67 pounds, I’ve found myself. I’m becoming the Mom my child wants and I know it will happen, when it’s meant to.

  2. dmama says:

    After being made to feel like IVF was the only answer by the doctors, and then when that failed three times being told donor eggs or adoption were the only answers, Julia was the only one who gave me hope and a way to heal. When the medical community told me there was nothing I could do other than fill my body with drugs and let them do the rest, Julia gave the tools to do the work myself and to heal in a healthy way rather than a chemically unhealthy way. Thank you, Julia.

  3. NadyaH says:

    Practicing OVUM tools helped me to discover that I actually have a voice. This voice used to be barely noticeable and quite at first, but it’s getting louder and stronger over the time. It’s unbelievable how many years I’ve questioned myself! Although, no magic of physical conception happened yet, I feel that I have a deep knowledge and control over my body and life. I’ve never experience this kind of confidence before and this fact alone makes me feel SO FREE. I am very thankful for that, Julia!

  4. Katherine says:

    One of the orphans that I discovered thanks to the Fertile Heart work is the one that thinks there is something “wrong” , something “defective” about me and this is the reason that we have been unable to have a child. This something “wrong” orphan is fed by the medical system, the hospital visits, the tests and the search by the doctors to establish a physical “cause” and to have a label.
    I am turning around to view this as an opportunity and I am learning to care for this orphan.

    Thank you Julia for your article, it really resonates with me. We are considering IVF as our next step, but only when I feel ready and not because our doctor decides . This work has made me feel empowered when I return to the doctors and that is an amzing feeling.

  5. RachelSF says:

    There is so much healing to be done in this world and Julia and the OVUM tools help in this process at what is often a very vulnerable time. The fertility industry could be part of the healing as well; it is disappointing to hear all the stories in which they are adding to the desperation and pain and selling a ‘quick fix’ when the body is crying out for deeper work to be done first.

  6. Robin says:

    I think it is wonderful to promote infertility being an opportunity not a disease. When I was pregnant I had a lot of morning sickness any time of day and began to think of it being an illness. That just struck me as strange because surely both pregnancy and infertility can’t both be illnesses. I can see where people promoting infertility as a disease are coming from in one aspect – probably having to pay so much for treatment themselves, whereas if it were classified as a disease it would more likely be paid for. But IVF is surely not the only cure. And the Fertile Heart approach definitely addresses what is going on with us – the whole us. You also constantly challenging us to have an amazing wonderful life.

  7. Heather says:

    Beautifully said! I did go the route of IVF, but also took breaks while I would continue to heal myself. Cleaning up my diet, learning to focus and believe in my own inner resources will take me further than beyond baby-making. We have three beautiful children over 10 years of work and you have helped our family so much. Thank you!

  8. Damara says:

    A wonderful article Julia, thank you for writing it. I think it’s a very dangerous road to go down, to define infertility as a ‘disease’. Firsly, when something is defined as a disease then the solution obviously is to bring in the doctor’s and the medicine. The issue becomes something outside yourself, too over-whelming to be dealt with on your own. It is so dis-empowering which of course is deliberate because why else would anyone repeatedly undergo expensive treatment and strong medication unless they felt there was no other option? It’s not as if IVF were a fail-safe option as everyone knows – and what about the 30% of ‘unexplained infertility’ cases – should they also opt for ART?
    The first time I did IVF, I felt pressurised and frightened into doing IMMEDIATELY as there was no time left! I neither felt physically nor mentally prepared and of course it didn’t work but the treatment cost me a lot of money and I wasn’t offered any refund! I certainly did not feel I ‘gained control over this devastating disease’.
    We humans are very complex beings, not machines and the idea that all that is required is the right medication and the right treatment repeated enough times is so very reductive.
    I have found Julia’s books and the Fertile Heart work incredibly empowering. It has taught me the importance of being connected to my body, nurturing it with really good food and healing it emotionally through wonderful imagery. I have gained so much by being on this journey already. I may well do IVF again but it would be with a very different, stronger and more self-loving attitude. IVF is only one option in a vast array of possibilities for improving my fertility. I’m choosing to use this experience an an opportunity to heal, I don’t have a disease but my body is signalling that I pay more attention to it. That’s only a job I can do, not a team of doctor’s.

  9. micbutter says:

    You speak such volume of truth! Especially when the IVF clinics not only tell you that you have a disease but that time is of the essence! Everything is hurry up instead of knowing that it takes time to heal and recover. Our own voice, mind and bodies are our most powerful medicines. Thank you Julia, for increasing the volume yet once again.

  10. Openhearted says:

    I have been working with the fertile heart tools for almost a year. I feel as if I am truly healing not only my body and mind by doing the body truth, imagery, and choosing healthy eating choices, but healing the little girl in myself! I think that girl is part of this whole journey, and I am thankful I found Julia in my desperate search to figure out how to have another child. I also view the fertility industry as another tool that could be used in my journey not the answer.
    Thank you Julia

  11. Ktrags says:

    After year of trying to conceive, I found Julia’s book and read it in a few days. What excited me the most was the idea of looking inside to heal before rushing off to the fertility doctor. I have practiced yoga for years and am amazed at what it has done for my body and my mind. Using imagery work and diet to help heal or regulate my body seemed so logical. Afterall, it couldnt hurt and if I resorted to IVF in the end, i would only be in better shape mentally and physically after following Julia’s advice and working with her, right?!? What Julia says makes so much sense. You hear of so many failed IVF’s and unexplained infertility that looking inside just made perfect sense to me. I worked with Julia for over a year ppracticing imagery exercises, teleconferences, workshops, vitamins, and diet adjustments. Julia has a gift. I cannot say enough about her work and how it changed me and my family. I have a beautiful 3 year old, thanks to Julia. Thank you Julia, thank you, ktrags

  12. Platypus girl says:

    I applaud you Julia, it’s all about education. Educate young girls, teach them to listen to their beautiful bodies and I’m convinced that, at the age of 20, 30 or 40, they will have healthy babies. Of course some woman will need help from doctors for whatever reason. And it is truly wonderful that it can be provided. But the most powerful medicine in the world is our own sound mind and our own healthy body.

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