Until recently, eggs were most often frozen for later use for medical reasons. A woman with cancer could opt to preserve her eggs before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation that could permanently damage or destroy her eggs. Freezing for medical reasons has been possible for three decades. Over the last decade, improvement in cryopreservation technology, namely ultra-rapid freezing by vitrification, resulted in higher pregnancy rates and the offering of egg freezing to non-cancer patients.
The 2012 announcement by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) that egg freezing was no longer experimental led many fertility clinics to market these services to women concerned about declining fertility — rather than a specific medical reason — leading to the practice being described as “social” egg freezing.
Ten percent of women experience infertility, but policymakers and health bodies don’t see it as a priority. Some experts say the inability to have children should be considered a human rights issue, and are looking for ways to get treatment to everyone who needs it.
Marica Inhorn, William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, talks about Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai.
A specialist on Middle Eastern gender, religion, and health, Professor Inhorn has conducted research on the social impact of infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Arab America over the past 30 years. She is the author of five books on the subject, as well as nine edited volumes.
The MacMillan Report is an online interview show featuring the research of faculty in international and area studies.
For three years, Danielle Camarena’s Internet search history looked like this: Why can’t I get pregnant? Who can help me get pregnant? How can I change my diet to boost fertility? Is my laundry detergent preventing pregnancy?
She never got to the questions about parenting.
“We thought [pregnancy] would happen right away, but it sure did not,” says Camarena, a 32-year-old technical writer in Covina, California.
So she and her husband got help. First, they tried intrauterine insemination – a fertility treatment that involves inserting the man’s sperm directly into the woman’s uterus. No luck. Then they tried it again. And again. And again. They moved on.
by BANAFSHEH MADANINEJAD
Winner of the 2015 American Anthropological Association’s Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology and the 2014 JMEWS Book Award of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies, The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2015) by Marcia C. Inhorn challenges the Western stereotypical image of the Arab man as terrorist, religious zealot, and brutal oppressor of women. Through stories of ordinary Middle Eastern men as they struggle to overcome infertility and childlessness through assisted reproduction, Inhorn draws on two decades of ethnographic research across the Middle East with hundreds of men from a variety of social and religious backgrounds to show how the new Arab man is self-consciously rethinking the patriarchal masculinity of his forefathers and unseating received wisdoms. This is especially true in childless Middle Eastern marriages where, contrary to popular belief, infertility is more common among men than women. Inhorn captures the marital, moral, and material commitments of couples undergoing assisted reproduction, revealing how new technologies are transforming their lives and religious sensibilities.
Marcia Inhorn receives 2015 Robert B Texter and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology
Marcia C Inhorn is this year’s recipient of the 20150Robert B Texter and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology. Inhorn is currently the William K Lanman Jr Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.
By Mike Cummings
Millions of people visit Dubai each year on business and for pleasure. While Dubai has emerged as a global hub city for commerce and tourism, it also is becoming an international center for medical care, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). People who cannot access safe, affordable, or effective IVF services in their home countries travel to Dubai by the thousands on a desperate quest to conceive.
Marcia C. Inhorn, the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, describes the experiences of reproductive travelers in her latest book, “Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai.”
The book features the voices of people Inhorn interviewed who had traveled to Dubai at great expense to seek IVF treatment. The stories of these “reprotravelers” provide insight into the frustration, pain, fear, and financial burden shouldered by those who are compelled to travel across borders for IVF services.
Inhorn recently spoke to YaleNews about her research.
Do you know about the Iranian IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) Revolution?
Marcia Inhorn (pictured) does … because she was alive to see it, and has studied it since in detail.
A medical anthropologist at Yale University, she witnessed a massive shift in the Middle East — and specifically Iran — as Ayatollah Khomeini embraced the reproductive technology in the 1990s. He proclaimed that IVF was fine for Muslim couples and he even allowed donor egg and donor sperm to be used. Thus, Iran has become a hub for so-called ‘reproductive tourism’ in the Muslim world.
Sound a little complicated? It was, and still is. But it stirred something deep and pressing within her nonetheless.