Dr Sanjay Chauhan, Scientist and Head, Department of Operational Research, The National Institute For Research In Reproductive Health in his keynote address during the second edition of the ETHealthworld Fertility Conclave powered by Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd spoke on the general aspects of infertility, its causes and prevention, as well as national guidelines for infertility prevention and management in primary health care and the path to advocacy.
He started off by stating, “Infertility by textbook definition means the inability to conceive within one year of unprotected intercourse or by ecological definitions and World Health Organisation (WHO) defines it as the lack of conception despite cohabitation and exposure for at least two years.”
Dr Chauhan also highlighted the causes of infertility in women are due to endocrine changes with PCOS, thyroid, prolactin, genital tuberculosis (TB), tubal scarring, and post-partum and post-puerperal complications, whereas among men, the causes were varicocele, alcohol, obesity, and even tobacco smoking affected the sperm.
He also said, “PCOS is now a big problem in India. The study we did in Mumbai among young girls was eye-opening in how much PCOS has affected girls. One study also indicated that every one out of four girls had a polycystic ovarian syndrome.”
Dr Chauhan also mentioned that, due to the population problem, infertility is under-recognised in the public health sector, and that, since 1952, when family planning was first introduced in India, other factors such as infant mortality, TB, anaemia, HIV, and the burden of high fertility rates have all played a role.
“There seems to be very little awareness about the preventable causes of infertility such as RTI/STI, unsafe abortions and delivery, these causes are usually neglected,” he said.
Dr Chauhan concluded by stating “Therefore, we realised while making the operational part of the guideline when we recommended putting a lot of input resources for infertility prevention and treatment services in the public sector.”