Wellness Wednesday: Let’s talk about Dolce and Gabbana

Dr Sonya Kashyap comments on the Dolce and Gabbana IVF scandal

When I first saw the headline Victoria Beckham supports Sir Elton John and ‘beautiful IVF babies after Dolce & Gabbana criticism, I was surprised. As I went on to read the entire article, I was shocked. Children born through IVF or other forms of reproductive technology are not fake or syntheticthey are human beings, with thoughts and feelings and people who love them, just like any other child.

In all my years of working in fertility medicine, there are several things I know to be true: even though some people struggle with fertility, or are unable to bring life into this world, it does not mean they are incapable of loving and raising a happy, healthy family.

When former patients send us photos of their new family, no one could ever tell which path they took to get there. You would never know how their baby was conceivedthey just look like any other familygay, straight, single or married. It doesnt matter!

The creative minds behind Dolce and Gabbana claimed processes such as IVF go against the natural flow of life, but this could be said for nearly all forms of modern medicine. Without our medical advances we would have died centuries ago from something like tuberculosis. Without it there would be no hope for a cure for cancer or life-prolonging therapy. Thanks to things like pre-implantation diagnosis, we are able to remove lethal genetic conditions from a whole family line, instead of palliating the suffering later.

Medicine is most often palliative, but it is almost always anti-Darwinian. Infertility is just one of a few areas in which modern medicine can actually provide a cure. The success rates for IVF have increased a great deal over the last three decadesfrom single digit success rates to upwards of 70-80% in certain circumstances. Not many areas of medicine can claim the same.

Much of my reason for choosing infertility as a discipline had to do with just that. In what other areas of medicine can you see technology evolving at such a rapid pace it changes success rates so quickly? And even more importantly, when you change the destiny of a family, and in-turn a community, by helping people have children, what greater contribution can you make? We do not know who these children may becomethe next prime minister, the next Elton John, indeed the next Dolce and Gabbana.

Before I started to pen a note to Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana, I decided to take a step back. I had forgotten to consider those people out there who are simply uneducated in these matters. Some people have no idea what its like to want nothing more than to have a child of their own but be unable to do so. The concepts of IVF or surrogacy or even adoption are foreign to them. Unfortunately, when people dont understand something they often become adverse to it out of fear of the unknown.

So instead of reacting with negative emotions, lets tear down these walls of misinformation and educate people with patience and kindness. I read another article recently on how people with non-traditional families are sharing their photos to demonstrate just how normal and full of love their lives really are. Lets educate, not hate.