Wednesday, August 30, 2006

IVF, obesity, families and fathers

In the news today has been the recommendation that obese women are denied IVF treatment on the NHS. I'm not sure what I think about this.

I understand that being obese reduces a woman's chance of conceiving, and so it would seem logical to ask/require women to lose weight before trying a treatment. (An acquaintance was having trouble conceiving, but was advised to lose some weight, and when she did, managed to 'catch' naturally). Presumably IVF is already for more extreme cases with more problematic fertility issues, but given that weight is a factor in the likelihood of success, I think that it is probably wise to maximise the chances by advising/insisting on weight reduction.

Of course, it's never as simple as that. Sometimes fertility problems are caused by conditions that also cause weight gain, such as PCOS and dodgy thyroids. I imagine that there must be some room for manouevre within the guidelines?

I am troubled by the fact that single women and same sex couples are going to be given the same priority as heterosexual couples in the NHS. I know fine well that single-parent families are common and can be as well-adjusted (or not) as your stereotypical nuclear family. There are gay couples who raise children as well as a straight couples, while, in truth, few "normal" families live up to the dreamy ideal of, I don't know, the Addams family or the Munsters :D.

But I do believe in fathers. I think they are important. I'm not sure that deliberately going out to have a child, who will have no access to their father, is in the best interests of that potential child. I realise a lot of children grow up in broken homes, where they have limited time with their father after a divorce, or may have no contact with their father in circumstances such as when a man runs out on a pregnant woman. These children survive/do great/can be raised perfectly well by one parent. And male role models can be found outside the home, as well as within it... but living with a role model is clearly more influential.

A single parent may not stay a single parent, he/she may marry or find a partner, so there is that possibility too. I do think that love is more important than biology, but I am also aware that children often hunger to discover more about their roots, their genetic heritage, (as demonstrated frequently by adopted children). That curiosity is no doubt present in children born from IVF treatments using a sperm donor, (hence the change in law that donors are no longer completely anonymous).

While not all fathers are good role models or dads anyway, just as not all mothers are good mums.

My father died while I was still a baby and I grew up OK(ish :P ;)). But it seems to me that these situations are more "needs must" than something to be encouraged. Being a single parent is bloody hard work and I salute them. I'm concerned, however, that men are being devalued as parents.

It's a sticky one.

I'm inclined to get stroppy and say that no-one should have IVF on the NHS, actually. :D Saves the trouble of postcode lotteries and deciding who is "deserving" or thin enough. :D

1 comment:

Abby said...

Completely agree about what you say about fathers. People are so afraid of saying that children need their fathers, it is not politically correct to say one kind of family is more valid than another.... but.... darn it... it is!!! My children are getting a better upbringing than I had cos they have their dad around.

Girls living with stepdad go through puberty much earlier than girls in a nuclear family - now that rings alarm bells to me.