Wednesday, March 05, 2014

IVF scams - and how to protect yourself

It is very disappointing to see how clueless most IVF patients are about what happens in the IVF lab. Sometimes, as with any biological system, things do not work out as expected – for example, the sperm may fail to fertilise any of the eggs, and this is called total failure of fertilisation. It is important for the doctor to take responsibility in such cases and be open and transparent with the patient, so he can troubleshoot the problem and offer a solution. Unfortunately , most IVF doctors are completely unaware of IVF lab procedures . They are clinicians, trained as gynecolgists , and they leave all the work to the embryologist. This works well  if the lab has a full time qualified embryologist, but most IVF clinics in India cannot afford this luxury, and are forced to depend upon travelling embryologists, or poorly qualified lab technicians.

Every step in the IVF lab is important to achieve the desired result. Sadly, there are many poorly qualified and inexperienced embryologists . While they can manage simple IVF cases, they may not know how to work with challenging patients . For example, they many not be able to handle testicular sperm, and will often tell these patients that they are better off using donor sperm. They will cook up all kinds of pretexts and excuses, to cover up their incompetence. Thus, when patients have lots of spare embryos, rather than freezing them for her, they will lie and tell them that the pregnancy rates with frozen embryos are poor , and will then discard them – or donate them to other patients.

Lab protocols for IVF are very poorly documented in these labs. Any mishaps that happen are neither documented nor reported. Because the lab is of poor quality, often the embryos are of poor quality as well. However, this information is kept under wraps. The doctors give the patient a glimpse of fragmented embryos under a microscope, and claim that these are good quality cleaving embryos ! Patients are not given a copy of their embryo photographs – often a signal that the lab is poorly equipped or has poor quality standards.  Quality control in these IVF labs is sub-standard. They may suffer from electrical failures, which cause the embryos to arrest in the incubator, but this information is never shared with the patient.

Sadly, it is the poor patient who has to bear the brunt of this incompetence. When an IVF cycle fails, the blame is often put on “ poor egg quality “ and the patient is asked to look for other options , such as donor eggs. Patients are often very na├»ve . Many will accept their fate, and not even suspect that the doctor has taken them for a ride !

It is important that IVF patients empower themselves Information Therapy, to protect themselves from such IVF scams.  If you need help, please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better !

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