“To be able to give birth to a living being is one of the greatest blessings of life.”
Nurturing a life within oneself and then, giving that life to the whole world through the role of parents is undeniably the most gratifying experience ever for any couple. Unfortunately, for some couples, it becomes medically challenging to start off the journey of parenthood due to infertility and other health factors, and that is when couples go for the most sought-after assisted reproductive technologies, called IVF or In-Vitro-Fertilization. But, the social stigma and struggles that come with IVF are real and the disgrace associated with infertility often refrains childless couples from choosing IVF as a medium to become parents.
Read the full article to understand why couples are choosing IVF and how society reacts to it.
Why Couples Are Opting for IVF?
Did you know according to the National Family Health Survey 2019-21, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), has further declined to 2.0 from 2.2 in India? Yes, according to Fertility Experts, Infertility is rising at an alarming rate in young couples now and the use of IVF by couples is also increasing rapidly. The main reasons are:
Ovulation disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS), premature ovarian failure, an irregular production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) help control the menstrual cycle and stimulate the growth of eggs in the ovary to affect the fertility of a woman. If these conditions do not get treated, it leads to female infertility and IVF is advised.
Blocked fallopian tubes in women is one of the most common reasons couples choose IVF as the last resort for treatment. A blocked fallopian tube prevents sperm from fertilizing with the eggs. But, with the process of IVF, fertilized eggs can be implanted directly into the uterus of the aspiring mother, and thus, the chance of a healthy full-term pregnancy gets high.
With advancing age, the fertility of a woman starts to decline or you can say the chances of becoming pregnant decrease. This happens because the number and quality of eggs start to diminish as well in women with advancing age. This decline becomes more rapid as the woman reaches her mid-30 s. That’s when IVF is recommended and only the most viable eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovary and are fertilized with the partner’s sperms and then, the formed embryo is transplanted in the woman’s uterus.
Male infertility issues like low sperm count, poor sperm quality, slow sperm motility, and abnormal morphology can stop a man from becoming a father, and hence, patients with these issues are recommended to undergo IVF treatment in order to start a family.
It can be observed as the development of abnormal cell tissue in the lining or the wall of the uterus. It can cause infertility by blocking the fallopian tubes and forming ovarian cysts, making a woman unable to conceive. In such a case, the best option would be to go for IVF as it gives similar results to people who don’t have endometriosis along with some special monitoring.
The Social Stigma Surrounding IVF
The aspects of IVF that are perceived as stigmatic by couples diagnosed with infertility issues are multifaceted and affect all parts of their lives, be it social, physical, emotional, or marital. Here are some of the most common stigma surrounding IVF:
The blame of not being able to bear a child
If a couple chooses IVF to plan their family, most people often blame the woman partner for not being able to bear a child. Women who are not able to conceive naturally are often looked down upon by society by saying things such as; “You couldn’t even give a child to your husband.”
The perception that it’s someone else’s child
Another common perception about IVF most people perceive is that couples who have babies through IVF are someone else’s and not their own. Some people even troll couples who choose IVF by asking; “Is the child really yours?’
The misconception that IVF babies are unnatural
IVF is a modern-age assisted reproductive technology that helps infertile couples with conceiving but some believe that IVF babies are unnatural.
An IVF baby brings a lot of shame to the family
When a childless couple decides to undergo IVF, their family and relatives never come out in their support as they think a baby is conceived and born with the assistance of IVF will bring disgrace to their family.
The journey of parenthood is overwhelming but amazingly euphoric and choosing IVF to become parents is completely subjective. Also, it becomes important for couples to visit the fertility services on time when dealing with infertility problems. The fertility services assist in identifying the problems at the earliest and recommend the treatment viable to treat the issue.
(The article is contributed by Dr Ruchi Malhotra, Fertility Specialist, Fertile Solution IVF & Research Centre – Crysta IVF, Delhi)