IVF Journey of Michelle Obama
People are so vocal about certain medical complications. Say diabetes and you will get an earful from everyone about how dangerous it can be, how quickly you can reduce it and where you can go for its treatment. The awareness is profound and that helps in safeguarding you against the menace!
But, if we speak about depression and mental health, the tables will turn. Those high pitched ideas on controlling diabetes will be replaced by some hushed up tones or murmurs about mental health and certain judgmental attire will hang in the air.
Nevertheless, actresses like Dipika Padukone made public her battle with depression and that may have reduced a bit of taboo unfortunately associated with mental health. When it comes to infertility, the tones get more hushed up, taboo creeps in a bit more and the stigma associated with the same becomes increasingly significant.
There have been an army of stars in the west and Bollywood who have opened up about their experiences of dealing with IVF, surrogacy or any other controversial procedures. This has not only provided that necessary impetus to mainstream IVF and its related fertility services but also made couples a bit bolder to shed their awkwardness, seek genuine counseling and approach fertility clinics!
IVF has been a part of all the glitz and glamour with so many examples, but recently, a very powerful public figure opened up to her IVF experience which supposedly will have an overwhelming influence. Michelle Obama, the ex American First Lady revealed herself undergoing IVF procedure and also wrote about her emotional tryst with infertility, miscarriage, and marriage! Her memoirs titled, ‘Becoming’ has hit the market and the word IVF is expected to make its mark.
Importantly, revelations by Mrs. Obama will have a better impact and is expected to make an important contribution to mainstreaming IVF in the psyche of the general population!
Firstly, as mentioned above, infertility is a subject of stigma, taboos and societal pressure. Couples tend to feel it’s a matter of shame and harbor negative thoughts about people looking down at them. The fear of being labeled in the vicinity of looming infertility can often lead to couples not opting for an IVF treatment or being in denial. Mrs. Obama’s opening up to the matter will make couples realize that public figures aren’t ashamed to be amongst them and this can make a huge difference in terms of getting support and space to persevere for having a baby.
Secondly, IVF is a complex process and a much-draining experience where setbacks are common. It is an admixture of deep emotional input and expensive financial investment. Couples may tend to procrastinate over these issues or may be afraid to take the plunge. Mrs. Obama’s IVF story will make couples take notice rather than delay especially when terms such as ‘biological clock’ or ‘limited egg storage’ are mentioned. This may really make couples in their late 40s seek help before it is too late as they will address IVF with a better perspective. Myths will be destroyed and facts will emerge which will be fruitful in taking a decision.
Thirdly, a mention of IVF in the book will generate solidarity and empathy for infertile couples who are grappling with multiple failures. Failure to conceive at the first stroke may be common and there is a long drawn process to get results. Mrs. Obama could induce hope in those couples who have had many failures in this process. The word ‘miscarriage’ will be internalized as one of the challenges to face or overcome and continue seeking treatment rather than ending it!
Fourthly, much awareness is all around with respect to other areas of reproductive health. It’s common knowledge amongst young couples regarding ways to avoid pregnancy or perhaps terminating an unwanted one! The same has to be replicated in infertility and IVF where Mrs. Obama’s book may at least create curiosity to make people search about IVF on the internet and remove any obliviousness associated with the same.
In the late 1990s, Princess Diana created activism with respect to HIV and landmines in Africa which led to a great awareness, so much so that, the UK Parliament was almost compelled to bring legislation regarding a prospective ban on landmines. This became possible as Princess Diana had a tremendous stature in the world imbibed with paparazzi attention. She knew how to use that media glare to divert it towards other burning social issues. Mrs. Obama may not be in the same bandwagon as Princess Diana but she also happens to exhibit few shades of being a global icon and is not sequestered in a certain region or industry. Her launch of the book would gain that necessary coverage and so IVF too can harness some reportage for itself! This can steer better IVF or infertility awareness around the world and even in those regions which may find the treatment still alien.
Sometimes, spotlights are necessary to bring an issue on the podium. When issues are highlighted by celebs, they gain that essential spotlight which succeeds in driving it to the necessary audience. Adoptions are not easy for couples but when somebody like Sushmita Sen or Angelina Jolie opt for it and make it public, common people feel connected. The same pattern works in IVF. Many celebrities from various walks of life have contributed in putting that necessary light on IVF. With respect to Mrs. Obama, the spotlight is bigger! A sensitive issue received an effective ambassador.
Lastly, with the admission of taking an IVF treatment, Mrs. Obama invariably will open other terms and procedures to the common population. Sometimes, one word can act as a chain reaction to other key related issues. With IVF, other important allied procedures such as egg donor program, embryo freezing, surrogacy, Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection, and social egg freezing will be more spoken about and discussed.
When ex-President Obama was seeking re-election in 2012, his Republican Presidential opponent Mitt Romney had expressed reservations over IVF (in the form of supporting an anti-IVF bill). This was in spite of the fact that Romney’s grandchildren were born out of IVF. Unfortunately, a political slugfest that time had undermined a medical procedure which is giving hope to many. With Mrs. Obama and her book, finally, we heard the most powerful voice yet. Ideally, this gesture could be a lesson for other public figures. Instead of courting controversy for mileage, they can use their effluent social status for doing something meaningfully better in society.
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