Childless couples taught how to get babies

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS): Surinder Pal, 38, married Sushma Pal, 35, 12 years ago, but the couple were longing for their little bundle of joy. The distraught couple recently saw a glimmer of hope when they attended a counselling session at a Delhi hospital on the right ways to have a baby.

The psychosexual counselling session focussed on help related to increasing the probability of having a child.

"Lack of knowledge among childless couples is the biggest impediment in their becoming parents," Brigadier (retd) R.K. Sharma, director and head of department of the Institute of Reproductive Medicine and IVF Centre, Primus Super Specialty Hospital, told IANS.

It was at an infertility camp organised by Sharma's team at Vinayak Hospital in north Delhi's Model Town area recently that Surinder Pal and his wife got valuable tips, encouraging them to leave the past behind and finally have their baby.

"Such camps always help raise awareness on the causes of infertility among young couples. In many cases, psychosexual counselling is required to help patients know the right ways of doing an intercourse," said Sharma.

"A good team which includes a gynecologist, ultrasoundologist, embryologist and endocrinologist always helps in achieving good results for childless couples," Sharma said.

Infertility experts warn that several couples fall into the trap of quacks and even godmen as they fail to consult the right kind of doctors to overcome infertility issues, he added.

Shashi Sareen, another infertility expert, blamed the delay in a couple's decision to expand family to career-related problems.

"Career-related decisions to delay childbirth impacts the body's natural ability to reproduce. The responsibility of having a baby should be borne when the body is healthy and tuned to do so - ideally before the age of 30," Sareen pointed out.

But for those who run into trouble in attempts to expand their family, advice should only be taken from infertility experts, she added.

Infertility is growing at an alarming pace, especially in metros, says a recent report by the International Institute of Population Sciences. It is estimated that of the 60-80 million couples suffering from infertility globally every year, between 15-20 million are in India alone.

In the past, female fertility accounted for the problem in 60 percent of cases, while male infertility accounted for 25 percent. However, today the male factor is prevalent in 50 percent of cases which means, one in every five men between the ages 18-25, suffer from an abnormal sperm count.

Among every 100 couples, 40 percent of the males suffer from infertility compared to 50 percent women, according to the report.

More than 100 patients from across Delhi and neighbouring towns who attended the Primus Hospital camp included those who were in their late 30s or early 40s.

"Most of the couples were those who had been visiting various clinics and hospitals for more than 8-12 years and had failed to get any satisfactory treatment. There were several patients in their early 40s," Sharma said.

Shivani Malhotra, 42, from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh who attented the camp, said that the consultation had given her hope of having a child after 16 years of marriage.

"In smaller towns, the facilities are not advanced and every doctor assures you of a successful treatment but in reality it always results in a failure. These camps give you access to experts and open a range of options," Malhotra told IANS.

"Infertility affects 10-15 percent young couples and can be due to both male and female factors. It affects all classes of society and can be a social, psychological, emotional and financial problem besides a medical issue," Sharma said.

His team member, Arti Sharma, said: "In a couple's life, infertility can be a binding or breaking factor in their relationship. Today with the advent of new technology, it is possible for every couple to parent their own biological child by various interventions."

She said some studies indicated that 10 percent of urban Indian couples in their reproductive age were infertile.

Infertility among women who are 35 years and above is as high as 30-40 percent because women are born with a fixed pool of eggs. The eggs go from one to two million at birth, to 300,000-500,000 at puberty, which reduces to about 25,000 when a woman turns 37, and further goes down to 1,000 by the time she hits menopause.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one such process that helps childless couples get their own baby. In this, an egg is fertilised by a sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed.

The average IVF cost in India is Rs.1.5-2.5 lakh for one cycle but it can be as much as Rs.4.50 lakh or more.


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