The Iranian (IVF) Revolution

Lucy Gellman PhotoDo you know about the Iranian IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) Revolution?

Marcia Inhorn (pictured) does ... because she was alive to see it, and has studied it since in detail.

A medical anthropologist at Yale University, she witnessed a massive shift in the Middle East — and specifically Iran — as Ayatollah Khomeini embraced the reproductive technology in the 1990s. He proclaimed that IVF was fine for Muslim couples, as long as the sperm was from the husband, the egg was from the wife, and the embryo was housed back in the wife’s body.

Sound a little complicated? It was, and still is. But it stirred something deep and pressing within her nonetheless.

That marked a sort of it moment in Inhorn’s budding career, which also found her doing research in Cairo and speaking to Arab men — hundreds of them, from all over the Middle East — about their infertility problems in quiet medical rooms.

Fast forward 25 years, and Inhorn can run through the nuances and complexities of IVF, infertility, and even an evolving masculinity in the Middle East.

She brought that knowledge base to WNHH radio’s “The Sam Gejdenson Show,” speaking with the former U.S. congressman about fertility in the Middle East, IVF restrictions, and the new trend in egg freezing among American women. To listen to the episode, click on the audio file at the top of the story or find it in iTunes or any podcast app under “WNHH Community Radio.”

“When you work in IVF clinics as I do, the husbands show up,” Inhorn said. “I said at one point: Somebody really needs to study men’s worlds, and their intimacy. “I’ve ended up talking to over 300 men from Middle Eastern countries and talking about their lives in the region. The New Arab Man “it’s part and parcel of a changing Arab world that I think we forget about too often.”


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