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Infertility- A social stigma and the Myths associated with its Treatment

Infertility is defined as inability to conceive even after 1 yr of regular unprotected sex. The birth of a child is regarded as a gift from God. The tiny creatures can make anyone develop feelings of love, compassion and care. The birth of a child brings a woman social worth, defines her own identity and boosts her self-esteem in the social circle. It is also regarded as an auspicious aspect that shall ensure the continuation of the family.

However, childless women suffer social stigma and discrimination. They cannot participate in some social events, also suffer extramarital relations of their husband and even divorce. Today cases of infertility are increasing because of late marriages and lifestyle changes. In half of the cases of infertility the underlying cause is in the female but in our culture the woman is blamed for all aspects.

In majority of the cases, infertile women share their concerns with doctors. Many have come to me extremely depressed, crying, facing all social stigma and losing all hope in the surroundings. As consultants involved with the public, we do feel a strong emotional attachment with them and try to provide the best treatment, suitable to the patient. However based on years of observation, it can be concluded that many times the patients and the relatives rush themselves into treatments and procedures that have no based diagnosis. Following are some of the aspects noticed:

  • Numerous patients opt for IVF without any set diagnosis:

Based on medical facts it should be noted that if the uterus of the woman is diseased, IVF may not succeed. Over the years, we have come across many cases in which the patients have opted for IVF without any doctor recommendation. The right diagnosis and timely treatment can always help in treating infertility correctly. I would like to share an experience-

A lady from Kerala had undergone two failed IUI sessions and was later advised IVF. She complained of  pain in the lower abdomen. Her diagnosis suggested genital tuberculosis. Her endometrium in the inner lining of uterus was also minimal. Even if the patient would have undergone IVF treatment, the same would he been unsuccessful, adding to the woes of the patient – this was due to the deficiency in the endometrium. Through a surgical procedure we succeeded in opening her fallopian tubes (which were partially blocked) and drugs were given to rejuvenate the endometrium. If the correct diagnosis was not done, she would have continued to suffer and would have gone through another failed attempt to get pregnant.

  • Numerous women suffer from infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes and cysts in the ovaries

Another lady had an ovarian cyst of 10cm in one ovary and 5 cm in another ovary. She was a typical case of primary infertility and had being trying to conceive for the last 6-7 yrs. She was advised laproscopic surgery for cyst removal elsewhere but we diagnosed the case no surgery was needed . Her partially blocked fallopian tubes were also opened through special hydrotubation technique. After a treatment plan of 9 months, she conceived and today she is a mother of two children.

So to sum up infertility needs a step wise treatment. It is essential that we understand the signs and symptoms. Women should share all detail with their treating consultants so that the gaps can be recognized and addressed. Patients should not succumb to pressure and opt for IVF and IUI treatment immediately, they should analyse their life style, any underlying conditions or complications. The most important aspect is consult a specialist – Gynecologist or Infertility Expert to address all your concerns.