Long before "intracytoplasmic sperm injection" and "zygote intrafallopian transfer" entered the baby-making lexicon, there was one way to conceive: sex. But today, with tens of thousands of high-tech fertility babies born every year, conception has become a complicated, expensive and seemingly endless rite of passage for millions of Americans. For Kim Hahn, 38, three years of unexplained infertility inflicted emotional turmoil. This being the United States, it also launched a business.
This week Hahn's Conceive magazine, a new publication detailing everything from miscarriage to egg freezing to celebrity IVF moms like Courteney Cox, makes its way to newsstands and doctors' offices nationwide. Some 6 million Americans struggle with infertility, but Hahn and publishing codirector Rob Clarkson, both former bankers, estimate that the number trying to conceive overall is as high as 11 million, many of them on the prowl for information. "You have brides' magazines and then you skip right to pregnancy, children and working mothers," says Hahn, who adopted a baby girl after three rounds of unsuccessful in vitro fertilization. "This is a huge untapped market."
While Conceive is focused on conception at any age, another new magazine called Plum, a 200-page glossy due out in November, targets the surging population of pregnant women 35 and older. Between 1990 and 2002, birthrates for women aged 35 to 39 increased by 31 percent; for women 40 to 44, that number was a whopping 51 percent. Many of these women put kids on hold as they climbed career ladders. Translation: they're smart, they've got money to spare and they want the absolute best for their babies. As a result, advertiser interest in the magazine--which will be distributed free to patients by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists--has been "exceptional," says Plum publisher Rebekah Meola, with heavy hitters like Volvo, Hewlett-Packard and Johnson & Johnson signed on.
The magazine business can be ruthlessly unforgiving. Of the 949 titles launched last year, 60 per-cent failed, says University of Mississippi journalism professor and industry guru Samir Husni. But Husni believes that Plum and Conceive, for which he is a paid publishing consultant, serve new niches of readers. "They reflect what's happening in our society," he says. "They cater to the business of creation." And these days, creation can take a lot longer than seven days.