In a country that has one of the largest populations, the irony is that current-generation couples have increasingly been facing issues of infertility. Statistics show that in the last two decades, one in every seven couples have been infertile, with the number of people opting for fertility treatment going up by 20 per cent. And this change has gone largely unnoticed.
Says Dr Preethi Reddy, a consultant at Rainbow Hospital, “Fertility issues have really gone up among both male and female adults in recent years. In fact, in the last two decades, the number of cases among couples have increased from 20 to 40 per cent.”
There are a plethora of reasons that have been contributing to this -- from lifestyle changes leading to hormonal issues, an advanced age or even the lack of spending enough time with their respective partners.
“If you examine each gender individually, most females are planning their pregnancy after the age of 30 as they want to focus on their careers. Earlier, women would have babies at the age of 25. Also, hormonal issues are increasing among working women due to lifestyle issues and irregular eating habits,” explains Dr Durga Rao, medical director, Oasis Center for Reproductive Medicine.
“As far as the men are concerned, intake of alcohol and cigarettes play a major role in reducing fertility. Lack of exercise and diet are also factors which influence fertility among men. One also cannot discount the effect of pollution which has had a drastic effect on infertility among males,” she emphasis.
Agreeing Dr Preethi, also points out that technological devices have an impact on male infertility. “These days most men use smart phones and laptops. These devices also have an impact on their fertility. Also since in most couples, both men and women are working, they hardly spend time with each other as their shifts don’t match, which also affects them.”
With most everything having a quick fix nowadays, couples are trying the same with getting pregnant as well.
“With the delay in the process, couples aren’t showing the patience required to have a child. So if it doesn’t work within their time frame, they look for a quick fix. This is along with the other factors is contributing to the high number of couples seeking fertility treatment,” points out Dr Preethi.
So if romantic holidays aren’t helping, a visit to the fertility clinic has become a widely opted for alternative. While earlier, a trip to this kind of a doctor was a taboo, couples have become more open to the idea over the years.
“When patients come to us, we first educate them on the entire process to help them understand what they’re dealing with. Then we discover the cause for infertility, which varies depending on the how old the couple is, how long they have been trying for, etc,” explains Dr Rao. “Depending on the patient, our methods of treatment varies from giving them a tablet or an injection to increase fertility or opt for advanced methods like In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF),” she adds.
Also known as test tube babies, the number of children being born by this method has increased in recent times by as much 15 per cent. “Earlier, people considered test tube babies were different and would face several problems. But slowly, people have started to realise that these babies are just as normal and healthy like other children,” points out Dr Preethi.
Like Juliana Maffei Casale, a Brazilian woman settled in Hyderabad. “I was married for three years and had been trying to conceive for the last two years. My husband really likes babies and both of us badly wanted to have children. That’s when a friend told us about this. I initially took medication and tried to give birth naturally, but when that did not work out, I decided to opt for IVF and it worked in the first attempt.”
The change in attitude has helped in other ways as well. “Earlier it was considered that only women face fertility issues. Now slowly, people are beginning to realise that men too face such problems. My husband and I tried for three and a half years, but when we couldn’t produce children, we decided try this before it was too late,” says another mother of an IVF child who wished to remain anonymous.