A public seminar was organised in Delhi last Saturday as part of the campaign. “The hush-hush attitude and social stigma surrounding fertility needs to go. Social apathy is causing physical trauma and depression and victims are invariably women. We will have to talk about it more among ourselves to recognise that infertility is simply a medical condition with treatment options available for it,” said Gitanjali Banerjee, who moderated the session. Banerjee manages a portal, infertilitydost.com. The seminar was attended by TOI readers, those needing help, experts as well as leading doctors.
National Family Health Survey reveals that almost 20 million couples in India need to be educated about issues related to infertility. “It is a misconception that since India has such a huge population, we don’t have infertility problems. High fertility coexist with high infertility here,” said Dr Neena Malhotra, professor, AIIMS.
Almost one in every four people has fertility problems that need expert help. However, due to the stigma associated with the subject, people end up experimenting with quacks, tantriks and non-medical practitioners. “Everyone starts giving advice.With so much mental stress, a stage comes when a woman thinks she is ready to do anything to get out of the situation,” said Banerjee who narrated her ordeal of having multiple miscarriages during the treatment.
In addition to the audience at the venue, the discussion–which was live-streamed on social media platforms–was watched by over 77,000 viewers.
Dr Parul Sehgal, a consultant with Nova IVI, spoke about lifestyle changes that have contributed to the rising the number of infertility cases. “A recent study shows how Indians are one of the laziest people in the world. Our lifestyle is degrading fast–BMIs are beyond normal range. Because of a hectic lifestyle, the marriage age has gone up to 30 while fertility peaks around 25.On top of it, consumption of steroids, supplements and cigarettes is on the rise–all these factors are responsible for the problem and they hinder the treatment,” Sehgal said.
A dedicated session was organised to bust the myths around the infertility issue. “In the age of internet, there is abundance of information, all of which is not correct. Misinformation is creating these myths,” said Dr Parul Katiyar from Nova IVI. “The fertility clock is a fact and many people think that taking pills will help reverse it. But there are no magic pills. Chances of conceiving decrease with age. Besides, it’s not just women, men too have a fertility clock.”
Adding a new dimension to the conversation, Avinash Kumar, a member of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), spoke about re-imagining adoption. “Adoption is not for parents. It is for the child. Do not consider it as your plan B, otherwise both you and the child will suffer,” he said. “Infertility doesn’t qualify you for adoption. We see so many couples who are so judgemental about child. Please prepare yourself before you go for adoption.”