Infertility pet peeve
When I hear someone say that an embryo was “implanted” into the uterus, it’s like fingernails on a chalk board to me! But why?

At the risk of becoming the political correctness police or the overly-controlling infertility advocate weirdo, I have one request (read: plea or heart-felt beg) to the journalists of the world: Please, please, please stop using the work “implant” when referring to the transfer of embryos during IVF (in vitro fertilization).

I’m the least likely candidate for the role of word nazi. I’m normally not that focused on using just the right words since I figure the end result of requiring such correctness is less talking about sensitive issues like infertility or fertility treatments. Heaven only knows, I want more, not less talking. But for some reason when I read an article that talks about a doctor implanting embryos during IVF treatment, it’s like fingernails on a chalk board for me.

It is not just small town papers that make this mistake. I’ve seen doctors alleged to have implanted embryos in the Los Angeles Times  and the New York Times , but the prize goes to CNN with the winning three “implants” in two sentences.

Since then, Miller [a reproductive endocrinologist] says, she implants only one or two embryos; on “very, very rare” occasions she’ll implant three. When she heard Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets in California, say her doctor had implanted six embryos, she was outraged.”

Now here’s the part that really doesn’t make sense. Yes, the term “implant” is medically inaccurate, but it’s not like it is in the realm of science fiction. My mental dialog when I see “implant” goes something like, “Well, who in their right mind would really think that a doctor could possibly take an embryo and poke it into the uterine line to make it implant.” Umm, well isn’t that pretty darn close to what doctors do with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) when they take a sperm and poke it into an egg and make it fertilize.

Yeah, I don’t really have a good excuse for my sensitivity, but I think it has something to do with the idea that whether an embryo actually adheres to the uterine wall and grows is such a hit or miss proposition—really something of a miracle. The word “transplant” makes it sound like something that is pretty routine …something within the control of the doctor. There are still some of the blessedly fertile (and ignorant) who believe that IVF is a guaranteed cure for infertility. You make embryos, the doctor implants them, and voilà—nine months later you have a baby. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So to the journalists of the world, humor me—embryos are transferred, not implanted.

What are your infertility pet peeves?

Published in 2012. Updated in 2015.
Image credit:Charlie Barker