Whether a belief in God actually helps to improve IVF outcomes is highly debatable. While some studies claimed that praying helped to improve medical outcomes for some patients, there is no evidence that this will really do so.
IVF- science, probability and luck?
An online patient asked me a very intriguing question recently.
" Do you think a superhuman power plays a bigger part in deciding whether the embryo should implant or not? From your experience as an IVF doctor for several years whats your conclusion after seeing so many IVF cases - or do you think its just science, probability and luck? Have your ever noticed any difference in a successful patient's mentality and an unsuccessful one?"
In all honesty, this is one of those questions no one has an answer to. We can only guess. All IVF doctors will agree that IVF is not a precise science - and we can never predict the outcome of any treatment cycle, no matter how well it goes.
The truth is that being human, we are all inclined to repose our faith in a higher power, especially when we are in trouble; and are struggling ( for example, when tackling with infertility) and need help. This is a normal response, as we try to make sense of life when bad things happen to us. However, whether a belief in God actually helps to improve IVF outcomes is highly debatable. While some studies claimed that praying helped to improve medical outcomes for some patients, there is no evidence that this will really do so.
IVF is one of modern science's success stories ! It allows us to do in the IVF lab which is not happening normally in the bedroom. When nature fails infertile patients, science comes to their rescue. So where does God fit into this ? Is IVF unnatural and interfering with God's plan ? Are IVF doctors playing God ?
A Complex Relationship
The relationship between God, science and spirituality is pretty complex. Many infertile patients believe God is punishing them by not giving them a baby (this is especially true if they have done a termination of pregnancy earlier). Others are happy to benefit from what science offers them by making use of IVF technology - but will also go to a temple before doing IVF, to cover all their bases. This helps them because science does not have all the answers; and there's still lots of stuff we do not understand.
Helping you Cope Better
A belief in God helps you cope with the IVF emotional roller coaster ride. It's easier to deal with ups and downs when you feel that a higher power is looking after you ! When you learn that doctors don't always have all the answers, it's comforting to believe there is someone who does. This is why many IVF patients turn to God during their IVF treatment.
Loss of Faith
Others will turn away from God, especially when their IVF cycle fails. As it is their faith in God is shaky, because their first question when they find out they are infertile is always - Why Me? They feel God has let them down by picking on them - and when he fails to come to their rescue by allowing the IVF cycle to fail, they feel he has forsaken them - and promptly lose what little faith they had to start off with.
Lots of patients are very inconsistent. They are happy to do their best to placate God when they feel this may increase their chances of success - but when the IVF cycle fails, they lose all faith in him. This difference in worldviews can be quite a problem when the spouses have diametrically opposite viewpoints !
Does being spiritual and having a belief in a higher power help people to remain more positive? Or does being scientific and rational help because it's easier to come to terms with failure when you know you've done everything which medical science has to offer ? What's your opinion ?