Saturday, January 28, 2012

Science, IVF and God

An online patient asked me a very intriguing question recently.

"Do you think a superhuman power plays a bigger part in deciding whether the embryo should implant or not? From your experience as an IVF doctor for several years whats your conclusion after seeing so many IVF cases - or do you think its just science, probability and luck? Have your ever noticed any difference in a successful patient's mentality and an unsuccessful one?"

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  1. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Dear Dr,

    Thank you very much doctor for this blog post. As a patient suffering with infertility I am constantly advised by my friends and family to try different forms of worship ( for example lighting lamps to a particular God or Goddess at a particular time of the day TO visiting certain temples and pray that I will offer something in return when I have my baby (!) ) . I do understand people say all these things out of love and they are desperate to help me out. BUT the pain that they create to me or an infertile woman (nobody ever say such things to a infertile man ☺ ) is not easy to describe. First they are interfering with my own beleifs and ideology. Second they indirectly tell me that not able to have a baby is a punishment from God and I shoul pacify Him with my prayers and bribe Him ( what to call it when I should pray that I offer God something and expect something in return? ). When I brush off their instructions with a smile ( I have to be diplomatic !!!) they consider me to be a woman who is proud, stubborn and not God-fearing (!!!). Have no idea who invented this word God-fearing!
    After going through this IVF journey for 3 years with no baby in hand still I am adamant (!) and I have never done anything I am advised to do. I am not an atheist. I love God or the concept of God. But I beleive that spirituality is not about seeking an all in all cure for our physical and mental ailments. Spirituality is all about sustaining life and living happily amongst those ailments.

    When my IVF cycle starts I ask God for the moral strength to go through the process and have a positive outcome. When my cycle fails I ask Him to give me the strength to bear the pain and come out of it as early as possible. So what happens when a woman undergoing IVF puts too much of her emotional energy thinking about God and doing things to please (!) Him ? When the outcome is positive everything is well and good (even then they learn a wrong lesson in their life that pleasing God by various means will solve their problems in life ) but if it is negative she has to again face a huge amount of emotional turmoil because in the first place she has to deal with the failure and she has to also come to terms with why God has let her down? When I beleive in science I understand the limitations but when I beleive God I do not understand the limitatios because from young age I am taught that God is a magician who can perform miracles.

    When my last cycle failed my mom and my husband are totally broken down including me ofcourse! When I wanted to go to temple after we got the negative result in hand ( where do I get solace more than telling Him my pain) both of them cannot even think of visiting God ☺. For me going to temple would calm dowm my mind because I didn’t have any unrealistic expectations on the power of God. The pity is that after undergoing such a difficult process both physically and mentally (from will I develop enough follicles or will my body let me down to am I doing anything wrong that will affect my embryos from implanting) I am the one who consoled both of them !!!

  2. Anonymous5:27 PM

    (just the continuation :) )

    Beleif in God will not help with the IVF roller coaster ride. Only proper patient education or as you say information therapy will help. If God is the one who decides which human being should have baby or babies or if He is the one who is in charge of all the babies coming into this world how will you explain teen-age pregnancies, abortions, so many orphaned road-side children, children born to drug addicts, HIV positive people ( I am not meaning that HIV +ve people should not have children, I just mean how children are born with HIV with no fault of theirs), pedophiles and so on?????? When nature can create disasters how can such a well-controlled IVF process be unnatural and interfering with GOD’s plan? IVF is a boon to infertile couples and IVF doctor and embryologist holds a much responsible position than that of God because atleast they have some control over the entire process while God doesn’t. God has given humans the knowledge to find out IVF technique and His work ends there in helping infertile couples and the remaining responsibility He has given to doctors like you ☺

    When writing this even some of my doubts and fears have cleared out. Thank you once again. Please do help patients who suffer with emotional turmoil because of unrealistic beleifs and expectations. I am sure you are doing it already ☺

  3. You are a very thoughtful and courageous women. I wish all my patients were as resilient as you are !

    I agree with you that a belief in God does not mean that he will do everything you want ! It's selfish to expect this. True belief is the faith that whatever happens, happens for the best.

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Malpani Infertility Clinic, Jamuna Sagar, SBS Road, Colaba
    Bombay 400 005. India
    Tel: 91-22-22151065, 22151066, 2218 3270, 65527073

    Helping you to build your family !

    My Facebook page is at

    You can follow me on twitter at!/drmalpani

    Watch our infertility cartoon film at

    Read our book, How to Have a Baby - A Guide for the Infertile Couple,
    online at !

    Read my blog about improving the doctor-patient
    relationship at

  4. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Thank you doctor :)

  5. Anonymous4:49 PM

    @ Anonymous: You are an excellent character. I see a mirror image of myself in you. We are in the same boat although you are little ahead of us (me and my wife) in this journey/test. God bless you.
    best regards and a big thanx to Dr.Malpani.


  6. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Thank you very much Prasad ! I sincerely wish that your journey is not as long as mine. Lots of good wishes to you both.

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