The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc




Learn the Facts, Dismiss the Myths, and
Find the Reproductive Resources that Help


INCIID (the International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination) applauds O Magazine and Barbara Seaman’s efforts (“The Terrifying Truth about Fertility Drugs”, February 2004) to inform the public about potential concerns in infertility treatment. INCIID ( has long-believed that the public needs more information, resources and support when making difficult decisions regarding fertility treatments.


In particular, INCIID agrees with Ms. Seaman regarding the lack of accountability in the way programs report their IVF statistics. The public must insist on a scrupulously-maintained and verifiable national system for IVF record-keeping. That is why INCIID has developed a new nationwide reporting system to provide the public with accurate, verifiable statistics on IVF outcomes.


Unfortunately, the remainder of the article was based on misleading information and unsubstantiated findings.

Sadly, Ms. Seaman leads her readers to the foregone conclusion that gonadotropin therapy increases a woman's risk of ovarian and breast cancers. Readers of O Magazine have a right to know that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to show a cause-and-effect relationship between gonadotropin therapy and these cancers.


Clomiphene citrate, a commonly used fertility drug (pill) is another matter altogether. Epidemiologic studies do suggest a possible increase in the incidence of ovarian cancer when this drug is administered every month for longer than a year. Clomiphene, unlike gonadotropins is a “synthetic “product derived from diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug known to have caused vaginal carcinoma in the offspring of mothers who took it during pregnancy.

While Ms. Seaman’s anecdotal observations about Liz Tilberis and Gilda Radner’s medical struggles are poignant, they provide rather insensitive and misleading information for those who suffer from infertility. We at INCIID would like to correct some of the more significant distortions within the article;


*The article stated the drug Lupron can lead to bone loss (osteoporosis). This is true only if the drug is used for many months without the routinely prescribed precautions, such as low dose estrogen to prevent such bone loss.

*The author goes on to say gonadotropins (Pergonal, Follistim, Bravelle, Repronex) can cause Severe Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This too, is true only if a woman who is hypersensitive to the drugs is treated with them indiscriminately. For decades, reproductive medicine programs have treated at-risk patients with these medications in a judicious, selective manner successfully taking precautions to prevent the life-endangering risks of OHSS.

* Some words about multiple pregnancy rates associated with infertility drugs; Often, in an attempt to optimize success rates, IVF programs transfer too many embryos. This increases the possibility of high-order multiple births [triplets or greater]. Multiple pregnancy and birth are hazardous to the mother’s health and associated with high risk of premature delivery as well as other severe complications that can prevail throughout the life of the offspring. Without responsible management of embryos transferred, insurance companies are likely to resist coverage for IVF procedures. We believe disincentives can be created, discouraging physicians from transferring too many embryos or conducting unmonitored fertility cycles resulting in multiple pregnancy.


Is IVF risk-free? Certainly not! No medical procedure is without risk. However, couples faced with making family-building decisions will make the best decisions when provided with accurate information provided with empathy and compassion. They need an advocate who will push for needed changes – like getting insurers to cover IVF. INCIID is doing just that.



Nancy P. Hemenway
INCIID Executive Director

The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, (INCIID---pronounced “inside”) is a Washington DC Metropolitan Area based US non-profit which, for the past decade, has helped millions of infertile couples explore their best family-building options. INCIID has brought together a group of internationally renowned fertility experts who ensure information disseminated through INCIID is accurate and reflects current diagnostic and treatment protocols.


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