On Fertility Treatments

I’ve been wanting to write something like the following for a long time but never got around to it. Now I don’t have to because blogger Flavia did it perfectly for me:

But although I absolutely do not think that it is selfish or narcissistic to decide in one’s 40s or even 50s that one wants to be a parent (or at any rate, it’s no more likely to be a sign of narcissicism than wanting children in one’s 20s or 30s is), I confess that I don’t get the desire to have one’s own biological children at all costs (I understand it as a strong preference, sure, but not as a need)–and I definitely do not understand the desire to go through pregnancy for its own sake. So I see a real difference between people in their late forties/fifties who either are lucky to get pregnant naturally, or who adopt, and those people who, because it makes them feel young and bogusly fertile and more like “real” mothers, go to great expense and incur quite extreme health risks in order to carry a child–a child not necessarily sharing any of their genetic material–to term.

I still haven’t arrived at a decision whether I want to have children. If I decide that I do, though, I will let things take their natural course. I’d never go to these great lengths that so many people go to, paying insane amounts of money and torturing their bodies with unhealthy, extremely dangerous treatments. I just can’t convince myself they are driven by love of children. There are so many lonely, miserable, abandoned children who can be fostered that no child lover would ever need to remain childless.

So if it isn’t love of children and a desire to give a good life to a child, what is it that drives people to these ruinous fertility treatments? I can’t find any other explanation than wanting to prove to some imaginary controlling agency that one is traditionally fertile and is, hence, a” real woman / man”. The danger here is that even before his or her birth, a child becomes some sort of an argument in a very weird, non-existent discussion.

Using children to reaffirm one’s masculinity or femininity in any way or manner is decidedly unhealthy. This is something that people do when they have no idea how to feel male or female through the only natural means: by practicing a healthy sexual life.


14 thoughts on “On Fertility Treatments

  1. I am not too convinced by your analysis about wanting to reaffirm one’s masculinity or femininity.

    Here is another idea: Children are the only way that we can continue ourselves (other than by great works) by the time many people hit 40 and 50 they realize that they are not going to get immortality from a great work, they are also becoming aware of their own mortality, children give some hope of leaving something of ourselves behind.


      1. Didn’t you just post about your students drawing erroneous conclusions from readings?

        The words used are “not necessarily sharing any of their genetic material”

        This doesn’t give us any idea of the number of these treatments that don’t include any genetic material from the mother/father.


    1. I find it very weird, that idea of immortality. I think it’s derived from stored potential energy — the feeling that there are parts of one’s life unlived. If one’s life were orgiastic enough, there would be nothing of that energy left over, nor any desire for there to be.


  2. bloggerclarissa :
    Of course, I also think that the burning need to perpetuate one’s genetic material smacks of mania grandiosa.

    Yes but that is the same sort of thinking that makes some people want to publish 🙂 🙂


    1. There is such a thing called “tenure requirements.” 🙂

      What one publishes is a result of one’s own hard work and intellectual achievement. There is a difference between being proud of that and being proud of the genes that you neither deserved nor made happen in any way.


      1. Having done both, I can tell you that for some strange reason I was prouder of the genetic mishmash that is my son than any work I have published.

        You also have to remember the genes are only the starting point too, you can do as many incremental works as you like on top of that.


        1. People who adopt are in no way inferior as parents. They also do all the work bringing up, inspiring, caring, etc. Don’t you think? Or do you believe that all of this doesn’t really count if the genes aren’t the same? Because that’s all we are talking about here.


  3. Sometimes people in their 20ies and 30ies go through fertility treatments too, if they try to have a child and discover they need them.

    I would consider Fertility Treatments not because “wanting to reaffirm one’s femininity” or any weird to me ideas of immortality, but since:
    1) I am 100% sure I would love my child. And also >90% sure of being unable to love adopted child *in the same way*.
    2) I believe children inherit many traits from their biological parents and, if I fall in love and adore somebody, I will want to see him & my relatives in our children.

    As for other people, who choose treatments, on Feministe (?) once there was a post on the topic and many commented that the process of adoption was *very* difficult. So it’s or go through FT with their problems or go through adoption process with its’ different, but huge too problems. And both cost money, time and energy.


      1. But what if you are a single woman, in your 40s, not sure if you will find a partner soon enough and live in a (european) country, where this condition makes you ineligible for fostering and adoption (because you are considered too old and you are not a part of a heterosexual couple)? And if you still you wish to have children? Then the only way to have children is to undergo fertility treatment and artificial insemination.


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