The most unsettling line in the recent Forbes article on the ambitious infertility startup Prelude comes about halfway through. “The IVF industry in the United States,” writes Miguel Helft, “has everything private equity likes—scale (about $2 billion annually) and growth (more than 10% a year), along with being fragmented and having outdated marketing.”
In an era with precious few opportunities for double digit returns, why not turn the reproductive health sector into the next big thing by furthering its consolidation and selling services using lifestyle content? “Hey,” Prelude’s hipster-chic splash page calls out, “how’s your fertility doing?”
If that piques your interest, scrolling down takes you on a kind of virtual stroll through the streets of Williamsburg, Wicker Park, or the Mission District, where you encounter edgily coifed, tatted, and bespectacled folk who presumably are spending as much time thinking about their reproductive fitness as they do their next Americano or Kimchi taco. But you’ll find scant information about financial, psychological, or medical risks of egg retrieval (unless you count the presumed donor pictured alongside the quotation “I was worried about the discomfort, but seriously, it was no worse than a bikini wax—and for a much higher purpose”) or about failure rates after eggs are thawed and implanted. Everything is upbeat and empowering, geared toward the “millennial mindset of health, wellness, and control.”
Prelude is targeting 20 to 30 year olds and the main product it’s selling them is their own eggs and sperm on ice. The site proclaims, “If you are in your 20s or early 30s, there is no better time than now to bank your eggs and sperm.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.