Dear People Who Have Been Googling About the Octuplet Woman:
I'm glad the news story has made you curious and you're seeking information about fertility treatments. Since you have ended up here, I thought I'd compile all of your general questions that have been bringing you to my blog into one post and address them all at once.
We're with you--octuplets are just not a great idea. And no, the community in general is not happy about all of the news coverage concerning the octuplet mum. We'd love to see news stories about the other 99.9% of us--the ones that had success with fertility treatments (since not everyone does--you can go through IVF and still not have a child in the end) and have one or two kids and live happily ever after. But since the general public tends to like their news with a side order of extreme, those aren't the stories that end up on the Today Show. But we agree, we also are watching the story unfold with our mouths open.
Is it normal to transfer 6 embryos (by the way--the correct term is "transfer" with IVF. A doctor can transfer embryos and there are even additional techniques that they think help embryos implant, but a doctor cannot manipulate the embryo to dig into the uterine wall and stick around for 9 months. So let's use the term "transfer" which is placing the embryos inside the uterus and hoping for the best)? Well, no.
The goal of IVF (and all fertility treatments) is to produce one healthy baby. Multiples are a side effect of treatments but not the goal. Because IVF is so expense and most people are paying out of pocket, doctors will transfer two embryos in order to increase the chances for implantation. Even with transferring two embryos, more often than not, if the cycle is successful, the person ends up with a singleton. There are also cases usually based on age or past experience where a doctor will transfer more than two embryos.
But six? Well, that's pushing it. Especially since one news story reported that IVF has worked for her on the first try every time. If that were the case, it would make more sense to engage in eSET which stands for elective single embryo transfer. Of course, the news could have it wrong. Her medical records should be a private matter and perhaps there was good reason to transfer six embryos all at once.
Is IVF selfish? Well, I already answered that question back here.
Yes, there are more options with fertility treatments than just IVF. IVF is just one of many things a person can try including surgery, oral medications, injectable medications, IUI, PGD, ICSI, and assisted hatching. In fact, IVF itself is not a static procedure--there are dozens of protocols used as a starting point and then each cycle is tailored for each individual with daily sonograms and hormone monitoring to ensure the best possible outcome.
Do people have IVF because they're lazy? Well, I just told you that there are daily sonograms and hormone monitoring. Beyond that, there are daily injections of different medications, a surgical procedure, and an uncomfortable transfer. I think it's safe to say that just as people don't have g-tubes inserted because they just don't have time to eat, people don't engage in IVF just for the hell of it.
Listen, we're on your side with this. In general, this is a highly educated and rational community. We want exactly what you want--a healthy child--it's just that we need assistance to make that possible whereas you can reproduce privately at home. I think a good rule that most of us believe in the community is that just because something is possible doesn't mean it should be done.
Most of us think that medicine works best when it mimics what should happen if all body parts were functioning properly. For instance, I think the guideline of using a woman's gametes until 45 and donor eggs until 55 is fair because it is based on the reality that 5% of women can conceive without assistance using their own gametes at 45 (so it's possible) and 55 is the general age (again, we have to speak generally because every body is different) where menopause is complete. A body couldn't have a child without assistance simply due to the course of nature, therefore, we shouldn't override that just because we can. But I also believe that each case is different and I can also see where a 56 year old should not be denied donor gametes simply based on a cut-off point.
IVF is meant to mimic a naturally-conceived pregnancy. It's aim is not to produce multiples, though it is a reality of the procedure. Still, bodies naturally produce twins and even triplets. The chance of a body naturally conceiving higher order multiples such as octuplets is so far out of the realm of possibility in nature that I don't think it should be done just because it can be done regardless of where the person is in life.
So, to sum up, we're with you on thinking the octuplets probably were not well-planned. We're sort of creeped out that she has a PR person and is doing television appearances. I sort of expected that she'd be at the NICU and not on the Today Show. But that's just me. I know when our twins were in the NICU, I didn't have time to eat a proper meal much less get hair and make-up done for a television appearance. IVF is not selfish or for lazy people or for crazy people. It is merely a tool that is used to circumvent a problem (infertility) and like all tools, it can be used irresponsibly.
Oh, and for the person who googled "how did ancient queen check up their genital...with photo," well, I can't answer that question and I'm sorry that you ended up somehow on a post about progesterone supplements. I would guess that they squatted over a mirror or had their ladies-in-waiting check out the goods...if they checked them out at all? I just haven't come across a lot of information about genital checking in ancient times. Especially with queens.
P.S. If you want to hear more of my thoughts, I actually wrote about this topic recently on BlogHer.