02 April 2009
A response to the latest cog in the First Reponse fertility machine
As if women needed another reminder that fertility is kind of like a loaf of bread: if you leave it too long it all goes a bit mouldy and horrible.
Welcome to the latest in pharmaceutical fertility propaganda. First Response, the queen of pregnancy testing in the US and abroad, has just released the Easy Read Ovulation Kit
The purpose of the kit, according to the manufacturer is that it allows you to 'get pregnant sooner' by detecting your LH (luteinising hormone) surges or when you are ovulating. According to First Response, the new product now completes an entire 'system' devoted to reproduction. The new print ads feature all three First Response products, asking “Am I ...” followed by “fertile?” “ovulating?” and “pregnant?” to highlight each test.
Kim Hahn of Conceive magazine said, "They’re going to help a category that is underserved and increase the dialogue about reproduction and women’s fertility health". I totally disagree. This is just another reminder that women should be taking notice of their fertility and if they don't they will start to 'dry up' and only reinforce the idea that if women remain childless they are less valued as women.
On the other hand, as Karen Hammond, a gynecologist, told the NYT, the new test is not an unequivocal indication of fertility. "“If somebody 37 or older has their F.S.H. test come back normal, they’re still their age,” Ms. Hammond said. “It bothers me a bit that these older women might get a false sense of security by getting a normal reading and they’d put off their childbearing because they have a false sense of security.”
Hmm. This is pretty horrible too. False sense of secturity. In essence, she is reinforcing the same horrible claim about being fit enough for motherhood but couched in medical language. It's sort of like she's saying that 'older' women get lulled into thinking that pregnancy is always possible and then SNAP! one day your ovaries become completely useless. In fact, the packaging on the test actually says, “Are You Able to Get Pregnant?*” with an asterisk leading to miniscule type stating that the product will not really answer that question: “This test detects F.S.H. This test does not detect all fertility issues.”
Seriously, how is that supposed to make a woman feel? Are you able to get pregnant? Well, what if the answer is no. First Reponse wants to make sure that women have all of their fertility answers, yet, their own disclaimer tells women directly that the test isn't really a sure thing. What about a male fertility test? Why is it that the viability of sperm seems to be totally left out of the fertility equation? Why aren't more men running out to the chemist to test the quality of their sperm?