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Extended (In)Fertilities

Extended (In)Fertilities - Lucy van de Wiel

The Extended (In)Fertilities work package addresses the new ways in which fertility and infertility are extended across the life span. With new reproductive technologies such as egg freezing, future infertility may be anticipated, and treated, at increasingly early ages. At the same time, frozen gametes and embryos allow people to have children increasingly later in life. As a result, a larger group of people become candidates for IVF treatment at different ages. This work package considers what it means to be (in)fertile at different points in the life cycle when new technologies for fertility preservation are widely discussed, promoted, regulated and practiced across the globe.

At a time when later reproduction, (in)voluntary childlessness and IVF treatments are all becoming more prevalent, the work package explores when and how fertility comes to be understood as ‘at risk’ and how this relates to emerging technologies and markets enabling fertility extension, preservation or assistance.

The extension of fertility across the life course is linked to an extension of the IVF cycle with additional treatments. As many new so-called ‘add-on’ treatments are introduced, regulators, patients and clinicians navigate an increasingly large number of treatment options in the fertility clinic. Focusing specifically on the emergent use of data technologies in assisted reproduction, this work package takes the expansion of treatment cycle as a lens to characterize the changing clinical, research and market practices in contemporary global IVF.

Both the extension of (in)fertility life courses and IVF cycles link to the expansion of the global IVF sector. As more people use fertility treatments, more reproductive technologies emerge and more capital investment drives the sector’s growth, the fertility industry is growing in size and influence. This work package explores how technological innovations both reflect and reconfigure the clinical and commercial infrastructures of global IVF.

Bringing these strands together, the Extended (In)fertilities work package brings into dialogue the extension of fertility and infertility across the life course, the extension of the IVF cycle with ‘add-on’ treatments and the expansion of the fertility sector.

Changing (In)Fertilities is a major new collaborative interdisciplinary research project funded by the Wellcome Trust and based in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Prof. Marcia C. Inhorn of Yale University.

 

We know that IVF and ARTs do not just reproduce babies: they reproduce values, norms, identities and institutions.

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This project is funded by the Wellcome Trust