Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: infertility

  • Intersection of mental illness, the supernatural, and gender in Pakistan

    Sualeha Siddiq Shekhani Karachi, Pakistan   Man with the spirit of his deceased second wife. William Hope. c. 1920 Credit: National Science and Media Museum. No known copyright restrictions. Maria sits across from me in a pristine clinic room in a private hospital in Pakistan. At first reluctant to speak about her husband’s illness, her…

  • Trying to conceive: Royal fertility issues in Renaissance times

    Julius BonelloPeoria, Illinois, United States Dynasties beget legacies. An enduring legacy is important to all great leaders. However, dynasties need time—time to accomplish major national objectives or memorable feats. Today that is why our elected officials, to pass on a lasting legacy, spend much of their time campaigning for their next election. In ancient and…

  • Did Macbeth have syphilis?

    Eleanor J. Molloy Dublin, Ireland Introduction Syphilis was endemic in Elizabethan England and it was estimated that nearly 20% of the population of London were infected.1 The signs and symptoms were commonly known to the average person and would be potentially recognizable to the audience in Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare mentions syphilis more times than any…

  • Did Salvador Dali follow the prolactin discovery in his painting of the fountain of milk?

    Michael YafiHouston, Texas, United States The Fountain of Milk Spreading Itself Uselessly on Three Shoes by Salvador Dali remains one of his most enigmatic works. It shows a nude woman on a pedestal, milk flowing from her breasts, while an emaciated man is staring at her.1 As he was completing the painting, Dali may have…

  • Infertility in Nigeria and the race for parenthood

    Princewill UdomPort Harcourt, Nigeria Infertility is a growing problem in Nigeria. In one study, researchers found that female gender-related causes accounted for 42.9% of infertility, in contrast to male causes, which were about half that number.1 Common causes are broadly categorized into genetic, physiological, endocrine, and lifestyle factors. One consequence of this problem is a…

  • Bob Edwards and the perils of publicity

    James Owen DrifeLeeds, United Kingdom The physiologist Robert Edwards began thinking about human in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the 1950s and first suggested it in print in 1965. Thirteen years later Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, was born in Oldham, United Kingdom.  Today that sequence of events seems logical, even inevitable, but it very…

  • “Sara, Bill, Kristine, … you’re pregnant!” Gestational surrogacy, biomedicalized bodies and reconceptualizations of motherhood

    Eva-Sabine ZeheleinFrankfurt, Germany The day we left the hospital, a therapist from the perinatal loss department presented us with two death certificates and asked us if we wanted the bodies for a burial. . . . We were being taken out the back like the trash, sparing those families who came to the hospital and…

  • Heavy. Period. – We Breathe Together

    Cheryl L. Kaplan Zachariah Chicago, Illinois, USA   Poet’s statement: These poems are clearly very personal to me, as I wrote each of them after separate miscarriages. I have since had two more, which I have not yet been able to write about. Although “infertility” is categorized as a disease according to the World Health…

  • Fertility/Futility

    Raina CowanChicago, Illinois, USA Artist’s statementWhile undergoing treatment for infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, I became fascinated by the inner workings of the body. I made delicate watercolors: meditations on the elusive process of conception. Other pieces emerged: a cardboard marionette whose flayed heart is on the verge of bursting into flames; assemblage boxes containing…