Fertility Industry Evokes Glengarry Glen Ross

Pamela M Tsigdinos
4 min readOct 22, 2015

The fertility industry mantra today seems to come straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross: Always Be Closing

In a powerful new essay, Questioning the Cult of Repro Tech, health advocate and author Miriam Zoll reveals little publicized details behind today’s now seemingly ubiquitous fertility procedure: in vitro fertilization (IVF). Her research and writing make for a compelling read that raises important questions about bioethics and the way fertility medicine is marketed and dispensed.

Among the takeaways: from its earliest days the scientists and developers of fertility medicine have systematically downplayed health risks. In more recent years the fertility industry has sought to cultivate a caring, reassuring narrative. However they also obfuscate and mislead patient/consumers at their most vulnerable.

It is not unusual for IVF commercials featuring cuddly babies or instant chat windows to pop up on the screen, inviting distraught couples to click just once to enter the Promised Land.

It’s queasiness-inducing to behold the slick marketing and sales lead generation efforts routinely employed by clinics eager to sign up new, usually overwhelmed customers. At this week’s American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 2015 Annual Meeting there were many expo hall snapshots and tweets.

In this Tweet the emphasis is on IVF patient traffic.

Increase your IVF patients 15–30%, guaranteed. Be sure to stop by #ASRM booth number 411! pic.twitter.com/Oj8nEAcVue

— Vanguard (@MedMarketLink) October 19, 2015

Such overtures to ‘grow your bottom line’ from the business expo raises questions about the underlying interests of the ASRM and its members. It’s hard to reconcile the call for greater IVF traffic depicted in the Twitter image with this quote from ASRM Vice President Richard Paulson: “I think it is important that people understand that infertility is not just a cosmetic disease.”

When entrepreneurial business focus takes priority over evidence-based medicine one can conclude we’re living with an untenable system where the ‘do no harm’ mission no longer applies.

Pamela M Tsigdinos

Writer and advocate. Published in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, WIRED, Fortune, Reno Gazette Journal https://www.silentsorority.com/about-author/