21/12/2006, 05:25 PM
WOW - how bad can it get? Like many women, I have been through endless IVF cycles and I am amazed at how much we women often have to put up with when dealing with IVF health professionals (be it doctors, nurses or counsellors). Being a woman who asks questions, expresses opinions and wants some choice and self-determination over her medical affairs is simply not welcome by many of these 'cowboy'-run private clinics. From the discussions I have had with many female patients over the last couple of years, the worst part of the IVF process is not so much the drugs, but rather the health professionals who often treat us as though we're silly little girls who have no idea... This is paternalistic health care at its best - and, sadly, it's found in many IVF units. Often we've felt as though it's unsafe to speak or articulate feelings because there's a risk that it could be used against us, in some passive-aggressive way. We are 'pathologised' for asking reasonable questions and articulating thoughts and feelings. The undercurrent of misogyny amongst many IVF professionals (both male and female practitioners) is tangible and even women who eventually go on to have children somehow manage to erase the sexist discrimination they had faced earlier because, once that baby is born, they think of nothing else. I concur with the views posted in the Donor Conception group. Women are often made to feel like trouble makers if they ask questions of their IVF health providers. If their male partners ask the same questions or articulate the same concerns, it seems, they are often treated with more respect than women. If that isn't sexism, I don't know what is. There is an expectation that women will be passive patients who treat clinicians like God. All they appear to want to hear from their patients is "yes doctor, thank you doctor". It's almost a professional narcissism. How many times have we women felt like a piece of meat on the production line - as though this whole infertility thing was not stressful enough! Yes, of course there are some IVF professionals who treat their patients with respect and act in their best interests, but there are many whose contempt of women is unmistakable, especially in private clinics, where you pay a hefty fee and expect a quality service. You might see such clinicians on TV and they certainly do a very good job at saying the right thing to journalists, appearing caring and sensitive but academy awards clearly don't belong to entertainers alone. Sexism and misogyny does not only exist in mainstream society - unfortunately, it also exists within the IVF fraternity. We have experienced it with the professionals we entrusted with our care - people who should know better! Rather than being a place where a woman (who is at her most vulnerable) is made to feel completely at ease, respected, valued, cared about and treated with sensitivity, often the opposite can be true. I encourage all women who have been subjected to poor treatment of any kind to speak up and make these health professionals accountable. Like any serial offender, if their behaviour is not made to stop, it simply gets repeated - onto the next unsuspecting patient. The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) investigates issues involving professional misconduct of any health professional, within a 6 year time frame. We are all entitled to be treated with respect, dignity, and to make informed decisions about our medical treatment in a way that empowers us, rather than diminish us. We, as medical consumers, are entitled to self determination. Infertility is a serious social disability that is extremely stressful for both men and women. The last thing we need is to have health professionals add to our stress. It should be noted that a doctor's first duty is to do no harm to others - and that includes psychological harm. Do not be afraid to report a health care provider for professional misconduct, no matter how vulnerable you feel. I have heard from women who were worried that if they 'speak out' that some harm may come to their frozen embryos or that their treatment would be compromised. These fears are completely understandable but remember, we are paying these service providers damn good money (IVF is a huge money making enterprise) and we should expect a quality service that is not compromised by poor treatment, of any kind! We all have a right to best patient care and we have the right to change doctors and clinics (as many times we we choose) - trouble is that we often discover that many of these clinicians are cut from the same cloth... The hidden culture of misogyny within the IVF fraternity should not be tolerated by any woman at any time. Take control of your health care and do not let any health professional undermine you in any way. To all those doing it particularly tough right now, take care of yourselves, be inspired to assert your rights as medical consumers and don't settle for anything other than a quality service that is free from discrimination and victimisation. *** Merry Xmas to you all and may you all have a rich, empowering and productive 2007. Blessings to you all xox
23/12/2006, 09:51 AM
You are so totally right! That is exactly how I feel I was treated by private clinic IVF Drs.
If I asked any questions they were dismissive acted like i was wasting their time... They had other patients to see and time is money so don't waste the drs time by asking too many questions.
23/12/2006, 01:02 PM
Hi Cheeryripe60 - I can emphathize with you. You just don't expect something like this from private clinics, thinking private would provide a more superior service (given the difference in fee structure). In my experience, I have not found this to be the case nor have many other female IVF patients I have met in private face-to-face support groups (i.e. run independent of clinics). I can relate to being treated "dismissively" as you say. It's like a form of contempt. Many of our male partners have not been treated this way and that's what I find interesting. Take care over xmas - difficult time!
18/01/2007, 06:02 PM
Well I would just like to stand up for my IVF doctor and say that he is not a bit like you have described.
He asks me numerous times during our consultations whether I have any questions, and he replies to my emails the same day and returns my calls personally if I try to contact him with a worry or concern.
He always makes me feel like he is only there for me and like I am important..
So not everyone out there is sexist - unfortunately it can be hit and miss in finding the right FS.
My Dr is Gavin Sacks at IVF AUstralia in Sydney and I would highly recommend him if anyone is looking for an FS.