Trends in Infertility: Keeping Time with the Biological Clock
Infertility is a growing concern today and affects nearly 10-15 percent of married couples in India. Nearly 27.5 million couples who are actively seeking children suffer from infertility across the country. An estimated 22 to 33 million couples in the reproductive age suffer from lifetime infertility in 2015 (Call for Action: Expanding IVF Treatment in India, Ernst & Young, July 2015).
Although infertility due to male factors is on the rise (30-40 percent), female factors account for 40-50 percent of infertility amongst couples currently. Becoming a parent is of immense importance for social acceptance and therefore it is even more crucial that these issues are addressed immediately.
Infertility and the Biological Clock
In general, conception rates amongst women have reduced considerably over the years, due to changing lifestyles (increased marital age, increasing use of tobacco and alcohol, high levels of obesity and delayed parenthood) and clinical disorders (increased prevalence of poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, incidence of endometrial tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections). One of the primary reasons for rising infertility rates is that women are trying to have their first child at an older age, a time when essentially their bodies are less biologically fertile.
In addition, studies suggest ethnic differences in ovarian aging between Caucasian and Indian women, and corresponding effect on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) outcomes (http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(13)02277-2/fulltext). It was found that Indian and South Asian women have a poor ovarian reserve and an earlier onset of infertility compared to their Spanish counterparts. Unfortunately, the awareness of fertility problems is the lowest in India while compared to other countries. For the most part, couples do not even suspect a potential problem and do not seek treatment immediately, further reducing their chances of conceiving over time.
Fertility Treatment: The Earlier the Better
It is imperative that women who are finding it difficult to conceive understand the paucity of time and seek medical help from a fertility specialist sooner rather than later. Instead of waiting for the situation to fix itself magically and going to gynaecologists who might not have the necessary expertise to treat some fertility issues, these women should aggressively access proven infertility treatments from well-established, certified tertiary centres.