Today, infertility is acknowledged as a treatable health condition. Infertility is slowly detaching itself from the social stigma, it had been associated with for centuries.
By Dr. Yeshwant Mane
Infertility, along with many prevailing health issues, is rising in tandem with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in India. The Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction has stated that infertility is a rapidly increasing problem. It is currently affecting between ten and fourteen per cent of India’s population, both in urban and rural India.
Infertility linked to lifestyle woes
In today’s fast-paced world, the need for a comfortable lifestyle has made life seem like a race. Moreover, an unhealthy lifestyle has made individuals/couples fall prey to infertility. Sedentary lifestyle with minimum physical activity, consumption of junk food and soft drinks, obesity, smoking, alcohol, rising stress level, irregular sleep pattern, diabetes, etc. are, according to medical experts, major causes of infertility. Additionally, clinical factors such as Irregular Menstrual Cycle, Blocked Fallopian Tubes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOD), Endometrial Polyps, Endometrial Tuberculosis, Low Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) in women. In men factors like Poor Quality and Low Sperm Count, Loss of Libido etc. are contributing to the increasing number of infertility cases.
Addressing the challenge of infertility
Childbearing is one of the major events in a couple’s life however, many couples choose to delay it owing to various factors.
Today, infertility is acknowledged as a treatable health condition. Infertility is slowly detaching itself from the social stigma, it had been associated with for centuries. Infertility is not gender specific and is no longer associated with women. With technological advancements, infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery or Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). There has been an impressive increase in the success rate of IVF over the years.
Infertility treatment and counselling for couples
An initial counselling therapy of couples helps analyze and rule out a lot of factors causing infertility/delay. Treating the condition which has influenced infertility is the ideal treatment. While infertility caused by anovulation can be treated with oral medication, injections or both; conditions like fibroids or endometrial polyps can be managed surgically. In cases where it is not amenable to medical or surgical treatment and those with unexplained infertility, IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) treatment is recommended.
Apart from the above, egg freezing is a modern procedure that helps women in the race against their biological clock. Globally, a few companies are offering egg freezing as a company benefit so employees can plan child birth wisely.
Most of the diseases prevalent today can be either prevented or controlled by making certain lifestyle changes. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, quitting smoking and exercising regularly with a healthy diet are strongly recommended. Couples are also advised to undergo annual check-ups. This will aid timely diagnosis and management of medical conditions, if any.
Modern treatments with advanced technology are making fertility treatments available to more people and the safety and success rates are also improving with time.
(The author is Specialist in Reproductive Medicine and Endoscopic surgery, Genomics Infertility & Test Tube Baby Centre, Mumbai. Views expressed are the author’s own.)