Many years ago, if you couldn't get pregnant, you either adopted or you lived child-free. Clomid (which stimulates ovulation and makes you insane ... or maybe that was just me) has been around for awhile as have the injectible fertility drugs, but if you have a sperm problem, you were just plain SOL.
Now, of course, we have IVF and all kinds of ways to get sperm to meet egg, including a procedure called ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection), which actually takes a sperm and shoots it right into the egg. It's been a Godsend for people who desperately want a child but who don't make much sperm. But now, the first boys born with that procedure are becoming men and starting families of their own ... and as it turns out, the genetic defect that made their fathers infertile was passed down to them.
Pamela Madsen, a well-known fertility advocate, wrote about this recently. Essentially, as she points out, using fertility treatments to overcome genetically-caused infertility can pass down that same problem to your children.
She doesn't think that's such a big deal, since the fact that these kids are even here shows that the problems can usually be overcome with treatment. I tend to agree with her, and I'd add that these kids, unlike their parents, have the luxury of knowing before they even try to have children that they are likely to face challenges in doing so.
I was diagnosed with PCOS (a sucky endocrine disorder that causes all sorts of problems, including infertility), well before I even met my husband or wanted to have kids. It didn't make our struggles any more fun, but it did allow me to discuss with my now-husband that if we ended up together there might be problems, well before anybody's life was going to be ruined if he decided he couldn't handle that.
I do think we need to be concerned about possibly passing on chromosomal abnormalities to our children, but carrying on as if fertility treatment is some dystopian evil isn't fair to all the families that have been built thanks to these high-tech treatments.
Also, I am just shocked at the comments she got on this post. People are just mean, mean, mean sometimes. Wonder when we'll be able to genetically select for troll-ish behavior? I'd rather have my kids inherit fertility troubles than end up jerks.
Image via gniliep/Flickr