Why infertility is on a rise in India

It is no longer an urban phenomenon and not just in women.

 |  4-minute read |   05-02-2016
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Determining the root cause of infertility is a complex process and it involves a lot of research and investigations. Ranging from the simple and visible problem of cyst, fibroid or hormonal imbalance to a very complex genetic disorder or even due to some occupational hazards like exposure to chemical substances or radioactive elements; it can be anything.

It's like searching for a needle in a haystack. Infertility, in both men and women, has become quite common these days. Research suggests there has been a 20-30 per cent rise in the last five years in India. It is no longer an urban phenomenon, nor is it confined to women.

In a modernised society, the problem of infertility has widened its reach that has impacted men, due to urban settings and surfacing in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities too. Increasing infertility rates are based on the lifestyle changes resulting in stress and obesity caused by lack of physical exercise, changes in eating habits and pollution accompanied by medical disorders like diabetes.

About 45 per cent of couples face infertility problems as it not only limited to women, the most common problems men face are low sperm count, morphology abnormalities and low motility of sperm.

Things you should know

1. Female infertility is easier to understand as in majority of cases, the problem is known. But, on the other hand infertility in men is tough to recognise at the early stage.

2. Stress is another factor of rising infertility in urban India. Stress of the profession, long working hours with erratic timings are key factors. Stress management is important increase the chances of conceiving.

3. One should keep a check on the nutritional deficiencies and maintain a healthy routine with balanced diet. Know the best fertility diets and best food. Take all nutrients in moderation to boost your fertility after consulting your doctor.

4. Most of the infertility cases are due to tubal issues which mean the fallopian tubes are blocked and you have to undergo some tests.

5. Healthy lifestyle is necessary for fertility. There have been studies that a majority of the infertility cases are occurring due to lifestyle diseases like endometriosis, rising obesity, irregular menstrual cycles and any more.

6. Age has direct and distinct correlation with infertility. Body strength, resistance, immunity and hormonal levels are at their peak during age and hence it is important to keep these factors under consideration. The vitality and sustainability of our body gets declined as we grow old. Therefore, it is always better to start infertility treatment at the early age.

7. Diagnosing the root cause and deciding the treatment is the turning point in the whole process and experience of handling a wide variety of cases by the experts plays a major role in it.

8. Male infertility is extremely complex to diagnose and cure. Often, we try to find out the fundamental reason by various tests and research. Semen samples are tested in the laboratory to know the sperm count, sperm strength and other factors. Hormonal levels are checked to determine the testosterone levels. Physiological problems like defects in genital organs, STD or VD, retrograde ejaculation are also checked.

9. Dealing with infertility becomes further complicated with the strain in relationship between the couple. Both partners must keep the relations absolutely tuned and no internal conflicts or friction should arise. This is the time of providing complete physical, mental and emotional support to each other.

10. Known as unexplained infertility such a situation can often be quite frustrating for everyone involved. Unfortunately, it is quite common and can sometimes hinder the fertility treatment process. Up to 15 per cent of couples who visit a fertility clinic for treatment receive a diagnosis of unexplained fertility.

Myths

1. A woman's menstrual cycle is 28 days.

Fact: Normal cycle lasts anywhere from 21 to 36 days.

2. A sperm lives for several hours.

Fact: In fertile cervical liquid, a sperm can live up to five days.

3. A man with a high sex drive will have normal sperm count.

Fact: There is no correction between virility and fertility for men and some men with a normal sex drive may have no sperm at all.

4. Infertility is primarily caused by females.

Fact: Studies have shown that infertility problems are caused by men and women equally, with 20 per cent of infertility problems being a combination of both.

5. Having sex daily increases the chances of conceiving.

Fact: Having sex every other day at the time of ovulation, most often between days 12-16 of a woman's cycle, is sufficient since sperm live an average of two days.

6. Fertility problems begin at 35.

Fact: While women fertility peaks in their 20's, it changes throughout a one's life. While some women remain fertile even into their late 30's, others experience fertility problems at a younger age. Experts say that chances of conceiving decline with age, particularly after the age of 35.

7. Single embryo transfer lowers the success rate of pregnancy.

Fact: Women have a limited number of eggs. When they run out, the menopause occurs.

Prevention

1. Minimise your exposure to toxic chemicals.

2. Aim to eat an optimal fertility diet.

3. Have an STD check.

4. Avoid coffee, smoking and alcohol.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

6. Do not ignore it.

Writer

Dr Indira Ganeshan Dr Indira Ganeshan @surrogacyivf

The writer is director and chief gynecologist, Irene IVF Centre at Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, India.

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