Infertility the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over 35 years old) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth has been on a steady rise among Indian men over the last few years, say doctors.
According to Dr. Sonia Malik, renowned gynecologist, and infertility and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) specialist at one of the leading fertility treatment centres in New Delhi, 46% of Indians, between the ages of 31 and 40 years, require medical intervention to conceive as one or both partners suffer from fertility problems.
Dr. Yashica Gudesar, a city gynecologist/obstetrician, says the main reason causing infertility is polycystic ovarian disorder in women and poor sperm count in men.
Doctors at the American Urological Association (AUA) state that misconceptions about infertility abound and that it is invariably attributed to women, which is not the case. Men can be infertile too, and they are, in nearly 30% of all infertility cases, finds the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction,
Doctors cite the following reasons for the rise in infertility among Indian men:
People working in the IT industry, media and BPOs are often overworked, which is harmful for their sperm health.
The persistent use of cell phones adversely affects sperm count. Some smart phones including android and iPhones, have higher emission rate than the other feature phones.
Environmental pollution also contributes to low sperm count.
Genetic engineering of food is also a big cause of concern. Sperm and eggs produced these days are not as healthy as they were twenty years ago, say researchers.
Smoking is hazardous too. “Men who smoke cigarettes regularly are at an increased risk of infertility,” says Dr. Ved Prakash. Smoking damages sperm, making them less likely to fertilize eggs and the embryos they do manage to create are less likely to survive, confirms AUA
So is there a way out? Yes, there is. IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection still offers a good chance of pregnancy.
Most people have begun to be aware of IVF centres and are open to the idea of consulting infertility experts about their problems such as erectile dysfunction, or not being able to have a child.
As per AUA at least 55% of the sperm needs to have normal form and shape, and a good laboratory should inspect if there is any clumping due to an infection or sperm antibodies.
However, Dr. Malik is mostly concerned with “the unethical practices that prevail in our country,” as she refers to the “so-called: inexpensive low-cost treatment that some quacks offer to patients. “IVF treatment cannot be low priced. At least Rs. 1 lakh is needed for the entire treatment,” she said.