7 March 2023

IVI believes in breaking taboos on fertility

taboos fertility
By the Editorial Comitee IVI Blog

Taboos in fertility are widespread. The time has come for us to put an end to these taboos.

During more than 30 years IVI has been at the forefront of reproductive medicine. We have put a face and a name to many cases of men and women who dreamed of having a child. We have been pioneers, using the most advanced technology and the most highly qualified team. What is more, we are well aware of the importance of emotional support in the process. Now we want to go one step further. We are appealing for an appropriate use of language when talking about fertility.

We propose doing away with the existing taboos in fertility. This includes all that surrounds difficulties with having children. To this end, we have launched manifestos in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. We call for a reflection on and a change in how we speak about this. We want to make the way easier for the thousands of men and women around the world who dream of having a family and who take this path.

Fertility and taboos: raising awareness

At IVI we offer comprehensive support to the patients who put their trust in us. On the one hand, we put our experience spanning more than three decades and our leading role in reproductive medicine at their disposal. We are committed to personalise treatments for every diagnosis, with the best possible chances of success. At the same time, we provide our patients with psychological support, which is essential in the majority of cases.

However, starting today, we also want to spearhead the discourse on infertility. We want to do away with the lack of understanding that surrounds this disease – for a disease it is, as defined by the WHO. This same entity informs us that 186 million people suffer from infertility around the world.

To do this, we have introduced an international project called “Language of Fertility”. This is a manifesto that intends to reach three groups: medical professionals, the media and friends and family. We have adapted the manifesto to the context of each country in which we have launched it.

Through this project, we hope that the problems that many people experience conceiving will no longer be suffered in silence. At the same time, we want to help people to weigh their words with care. We also aim to put a stop to comments that are inappropriate, even when they are made with the best intentions.

The project in Spain

In Spain we have teamed up with the largest patients’ association in the country: the Red Nacional de Infértiles (National Network of Infertile Patients). In our manifesto we highlight three common mistakes that lead to advice that causes pain and even hostile words. Underestimating, generalising and trivialising: these are three bad habits of language that should be avoided.

We introduced our manifesto “El lenguaje de la fertilidad” in the newly opened IVI Barcelona clinic. It is housed in one of the city’s historic buildings, from where we will continue to help our patients. The event was attended by the Director of IVI Barcelona, Dr Agustín Ballesteros, the President of the Red Nacional de Infértiles, Helena Fernandez, one of our patients in Barcelona and digital content creators and mums Ariadne Artiles and María Tilve.

“We wanted to give a voice to many women. Being infertile is not something we need to feel guilty about. Nor is there any reason to hide the need to get medical help to solve this problem. Just like someone who needs a neurologist or an orthopaedic surgeon. Patients with fertility problems have access to the best options for achieving their desire of getting pregnant. Yet it is true that, traditionally, our way of talking about fertility and about the people suffering from it within different social, medical and even media spheres has led to certain uncomfortable situations. Today, with this project, we want to provide a solution with sensitivity and empathy”. This is what Dr Agustín Ballesteros, Director of IVI Barcelona, explained.

You can see here a summary of the round table we held previously in Barcelona:

Language of Fertility in the UK

In the United Kingdom, five women at IVI London sent out an appeal to their social network communities, which led to testimonies from hundreds of people who wanted to tell their stories. We compiled actual sentences that they had heard from specialists, or simply from their closest family and friends.

Becky Kearns, Katy Lindemann, Kemi Olowe, Ruth Corden and Annabel Shepherd reflected with us on their experiences and on the view that society attaches to motherhood.

Out of this arose the triple commitment: with medical professionals, the media and friends and family. Ultimately, an appeal to the whole of society to do a U-turn and to begin to change certain words, to avoid awkward questions, or simply not to engender a silence that is at times every bit as upsetting.

For our part, as assisted reproduction professionals and experts and, as such, belonging to the medical community, we are very aware of how far we still have to go. We are committed to working actively to be the first not to fall into linguistic errors.

“Language of Fertility” won the Excellence in Media Relations category in the 2022 Communiqué Awards. These annual awards celebrate milestones in healthcare communication in the United Kingdom.

Check here the conversations recorded featuring the women and Dr César Diaz, Medical Director of IVI London:

France: talking about assisted reproduction in the first person

In France we presented our white paper “Bébé éprouvette, maman éprouvée” on 2 December 2022. We wanted to talk about assisted reproduction processes in the first person. For this reason, we shared five women’s stories told in their own words. Our aim was to give a voice to different family models, which are possible thanks to fertility treatments.

On this occasion we worked with the Association MAIA patients’ association. They brought their viewpoint on the importance of supporting patients. At a media conference held in Paris, we had the chance to discuss with a variety of women the different roles created by assisted reproduction. We spoke also about taboos in fertility, the need for support from family and friends, and how to normalise fertility treatments. We must not forget that, according to MAIA data, between one and two children in every pre-school class has been born as a result of reproductive medicine.

You can see here the highlights of this presentation: 

The need to break taboos in fertility

At IVI we want to continue with our work of deconstructing false myths and breaking taboos surrounding infertility. We strive to help many women and couples fulfil their dream of having a child, but also to ensure that words can help us to empathise with their situation. We must all work together to construct a discourse that will make infertility patients feel comfortable, without silences or hurtful words.

As information is usually the best weapon for avoiding taboos, you are welcome to contact our team for an answer to any questions you might have. If you want to have a baby but pregnancy is not happening for you, or if you have had any kind of gynaecological health issue, our experts will explain everything you need to know. Call us or fill in our electronic form to get in touch with us.

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