Infertility is a very common problem and is estimated that 1 in every 6 couples will not be able to have a child worldwide, hence affecting 80 million people around the world. It is a major negative life event which has adverse effects on a couple’s subjective well-being. It is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. The understanding of the causes of infertility has made enormous progress during the past few decades. In parallel, a number of treatments have successfully treated many infertile couples at one of the best IVF centre in Chandigarh.
The number of couples seeking medical help for infertility is probably lower than the number experiencing it. This may depend to a considerable extent on:
- The lack of knowledge about success rates and chances to become parents.
- The costs associated with assisted reproductive technologies.
- Ethical, religious and personal beliefs.
- Mass-media descriptions of `extreme’ rather than `normal’ cases.
- The issue of infertility being surrounded by taboos in countries like India.
Infertility and Social Pressure: Even a healthy, fertile couple may take one year of regular intercourse to achieve pregnancy. However, in India, social pressure on couples to conceive soon after marriage is very high. For many couples it is often difficult to address this problem openly, and this lack of openness stifles their chances to identify a solution. On the other hand, many anxious couples who fail to conceive after 3-4 months of trying come to infertility specialists out of ignorance and family pressure. When newly-wed couples end up at fertility centres it is usually out of fear of stigma of infertility. At many Chandigarh IVF centres these couples are given counselling and reassurance that they will conceive in the near future and that they don’t need treatment. However, there are certain patients with a tubal block, low sperm count and conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis who need medical intervention to help them have a child.
Who faces the brunt?
Infertility is a source of distress for couples as societal norms and perceived religious dictums may equate infertility with failure on a personal, interpersonal, emotional or social level. Women bear the brunt of these societal perceptions in most of the cases. Psychologically, the infertile woman exhibits significantly higher psychopathology in the form of tension, hostility, anxiety, depression, self-blame and suicidal ideation. There is documentary evidence that women experiencing infertility are punished with physical violence for their failure. Women are verbally or physically abused in their own homes, deprived of their inheritance, sent back to their parents, ostracized, looked down upon by society, or even have their marriage dissolved or terminated if they are unable to conceive
Role of religion and superstitions: Knowledge about infertility is inadequate and there are a number of misconceptions regarding infertility in India. The ignorant people may believe that evil forces are the cause of infertility. These misconceptions eventually lead to practices ranging from conducting “havans” to sacrifices in extreme cases. In certain parts of India infertile women are thought to be possessed by evil spirits. Throughout much of the world, there is an association between male fertility and masculinity. There is a misconception that if a man is infertile, he is probably impotent. This stigma often prevents men from seeking evaluation. People also have a belief that fertility treatment means that the woman conceives by donor sperms and eggs. In fact, in a lot of cases, the first step towards fertility treatment is scheduling a well-timed intercourse. Additionally, there is a religious bias against adoption. In-vitro fertilisation is available to varying degrees, but there are religious constraints on the use of donor sperm and, to a lesser degree, on donor eggs in many locations.
To sum up, the issue of social misery for infertile couples is very high in the country. Infertility is a treatable condition and couples should seek advice at the right time. On the other hand, society should lend a helping hand to such couples instead of accusing them. The inability to have children results in social and cultural exclusion which just adds to the frustration and helplessness of a couple.
For most infertile couples, the solution is usually achieved after the right diagnosis. For women with problems like PCOD and endometriosis and men with mild male factor problems, Intra-Uterine Insemination may be the treatment option. For patients with tubal blockage and very low sperm count, the treatment option is In-Vitro Fertilisation with or without Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection. It is not always that donor eggs or sperms are used. The IVF clinics in Chandigarh have all these procedures available and the procedures are done in a sterile fully equipped laboratory. So, couples who are trying to conceive should keep their faith and seek advice from a professional instead of giving in to the whims and fancies of the society and cultural taboos.