Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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IVF at 59- infertility, menopause or making a family?


According to the Daily Mail online from the UK, front page, we now have Susan Tollefsen at 59  years old pregnant through IVF/donor. Apparently, what is really the news here is that the procedure was done in Britain, unlike her previous IVF/Donor cycle at age 57 which was done in Moscow. Conversations, challenges, arguments are being shown all over the news sources, as well as within the various reproductive medical communities. Conversations are happening throughout the patients/bloggers/auxiliary service groups as well.

Arguments against having IVF/donor egg at any age over 49.5 run the gamut from concerns about the mother's health to concerns about the child being left motherless at an earlier age. There is an on-going conversation within the medical society of whether one is truly treating infertility at that age or battling menopause. (In fact, there is no argument at 59, when menopause has occurred, treatment simply must accommodate the change in hormones, different from a pre-menopausal woman.)

And I'm left wondering, is this our business or isn't it? And, I will say, absolutely, that it is not mine. But I know that I look at things in a simplistic way. I actually choose to. At some point you have to strip away the layers and get down to your own core. Back to more layers...

Because a 59 year old getting pregnant means medical treatment, then what else gets carried into it? The question of insurance coverage (whether it should or shouldn't cover this treatment is almost the least of it; there's also the questions of use of limited insurance funds, intent of coverage , etc.), legal implications (what laws have been created in the particular country, state, etc. to "regulate" the use of reproductive technology), ethical issues, (should medicine be used in this fashion, do we have enough statistical data to support using these types of treatment, how do we get the data without putting children at risk, etc. This is probably the longest list of all) patient rights (the treatment and technology exist; our right to create families is no one else's business, these are our bodies, etc.)  And much, much more.

It's so complicated. And it's so simple. It's a family that's being created. Imperfect, to be sure. As is every other family I have ever had the honor to observe or be involved with. Here's where the data is irrelevant. We are talking about human beings and we are actually animals. And unpredictable. Susan Tollefsen, at age 59, may live another 30 plus years, in a productive healthy way. It's interesting to talk about all this, and important and perhaps even completely necessary. However, at the end of the day, a child, who would not have had life otherwise, will be born, and by all accounts, be loved.

These situations are complicated, very complicated. I am grateful to the professionals in the legal, medical, patient, and ethical fields who tackle the layers and layers of questions.

I am most grateful to you, and me, and so many of my friends who have gone on to create our own families, weathering these controversies, steadfast in seeing deep past the layers and into the core.


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