Research has identified significant gaps in people’s knowledge of fertility and artificial insemination techniques, contributing to a significant delay in planned parenthood. Effective educational programs need to be developed, to support informed decisions increase fertility knowledge and support informed family planning. Though millions suffer from infertility, very few couples are well informed about advanced fertility treatments and seek assistance from a fertility specialist.
We spoke with Dr Durga G Rao, co-founder and medical director, Oasis Fertility that launched a dedicated online portal to celebrate World IVF Day on July 25.
What are the reasons for rising infertility?
There has been a tremendous shift in our lifestyle in the last 2 decades. As we have got too comfortable with a ready-to-eat food to late-night working style, fertility potential has been waning. Not to forget the stress and erratic sleep patterns that are taking a huge toll on the mental as well as physical health of an individual. In addition to this, educational aspirations, career goals, and other commitments force the couples to delay their marriage plans which in turn leads to delay in conception as well. The fact most young couples are unaware is that their fertility decreases with age especially in the case of women. Environmental factors like pollution, pesticides also cause infertility.
Is it male or female infertility that is a cause of concern?
Women are always considered as a reason for childlessness due to a lack of awareness of fertility issues. There has been a paradigm shift of late and it’s no more a female issue alone. The male factor is also equally responsible for infertility in most cases. Due to reluctance and social stigma, men don’t go in for reproductive health check-ups. But over the years, we have observed more men seeking fertility treatments. Age, smoking, and obesity have a huge impact on fertility both in men and women. Whether the issue is with the male or female partner, the right diagnosis has to be done and appropriate treatment has to be given at the right time. If not done so, it can also reduce the success rate of advanced fertility treatments.
How can it be prevented?
The biological clock never waits for anybody and age is the critical factor in conception. Postponing conception can lead to infertility. Lifestyle modifications like weight management, consumption of healthy foods, regular exercise, reducing the usage of gadgets, and coping with stress can go a long way in helping couples in their parenthood journey. But there are genetic reasons and some other medical conditions as well which can be treated with surgeries or medications.
What is the acceptance of IVF techniques in India? Are people open to it, especially in smaller towns?
We have seen the acceptance and awareness increasing in the IVF space. People are talking about it openly, but still, it’s largely underpenetrated, the fact remains that out of the 30 million couples who suffer from infertility only about 1 per cent come forward to get treated. The cultural, social, and religious burden of not having a child is huge in smaller towns. But there is a lacuna regarding the availability of several treatment options. Due to the absence of proper knowledge and information, people end up losing time and money chasing the wrong treatments. The IVF techniques in India have gone to a level where we can promise about 60 per cent success rates which are higher than the global standards. We have a long way to go on this front.