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Infertility: Social curse or social pathology

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Nov 2017 12:00 AM GMT

By Kankan Sarmah

It was a beautiful day. Every element of life put its energy for a smooth movement of process. Birds chirped, the wind blew and flowers bloomed as usual. Mr Chaliha, an advocate by profession, finished his morning coffee, picked up his briefcase and stepped out for court. Mrs Baruah, their intimate neighbor was sweeping her verandah at that moment. Catching sight of her, Mr Chaliha mumbled angrily and went back into his house banging the door. His wife Rumi, a government servant by profession, asked: “What happened? Why are you so angry? Did you forget something?” But without noticing her, Mr Chaliha was mumbling again. Then he raised his voice and said, “Just now saw that barren lady sweeping her verandah. Today something bad is going to happen. Go and light an agarbatti and lamp so that no bad thing happens”. Saying so, he left for court.

I checked my watch. It was 4 pm; I was waiting for a report to come of one of my patients. Suddenly, I heard footsteps approaching my chamber. I saw a couple of middle age come in. I greeted and offered them a seat in front of me. The lady began, “Sir, we are from a village called Majbat, 300 km from here. We have been married for ten years, but we don’t have any child. We came to know about you from one of our neighbors and that’s how we are here. We have undergone a lot of treatments but without success; maybe we didn’t get the right person to treat us. Because of ibility to bear a child, I am facing lots of humiliation and unkind situations in my family as well as in society”. From the conversation, I came to know that her husband owns a shop in the village and she is a housewife with different family background.

The above mentioned two cases are from different plots and different backgrounds. One stays in the city and the other is rural. But the irony is that, both have the same thought process. Motherhood has a definite explation as a tradition and also womens’ primary meaning in society, especially in Indian context, where motherhood is valued and deified. That’s why a woman who is uble to reproduce is treated as a pariah and subjected to social shame. Given the importance of child bearing in Indian society, women who are uble to bear children for whatever reasons must suffer the consequences, which can be severely damaging both physically and emotiolly.

But we should know the cause or exact reason for the couple’s ibility to reproduce. Is the problem with the woman or the male partner or both of them? The problem of this kind is treated as “Infertility”. Infertility refers to the biological ibility of an individual to contribute to conception, or a couple who have failed to conceive after 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraception, or to a female who cannot carry a pregncy to full term. According to one survey it was found that “about 20% of cases of infertility are due to a problem in the man”; “about 40% to 50% of cases of infertility are due to a problem in the woman” and “about 30% to 40% of cases of infertility are due to problems in both the man and the woman” respectively.

Data from the Population Reference Bureau states that in 1990, the fertility rate in Assam was 4.54 and in 2013 it came down to 2.34. Again Assam ranks 14 from the top among Indian States in fertility rates. What does it indicate? If we consider the pan-India fertility rate, which was 3.81 in 1990, and in 2013 was only 2.34, it indicates that the problem of infertility has been rising ad we don’t seem bothered enough.

Apart from the clinical indicators, there are some other social factors/indicators which promote infertility. The most influential social indicator is our life style, i.e. food habit, smoking, alcohol consumption, eating disorder (less eating or over eating), stress, obesity, over age, etc. Apart from these, exposure to harmful chemicals, over exercising (also not exercising) and sexually transmitted infections are some risk factors for infertility.

So if we can check or organize our lifestyle, it can overcome some causes of infertility. Moreover the journey from infertility to fertility can be achieved by ART treatments like, IUI, IVF, ICSI or surrogacy. Lots of couples have been transformed to parenthood and many women have attained motherhood by these procedures.

The most important thing is that we should have proper knowledge and awareness about infertility, humanity and should not blame only the female partner for everything. Step out to see how the world is changing with advancement of science & technology. Sleeping with superstition does more harm than good.

[Kankan Sarmah, MA (Clinical Psychology), PGDM, BSc. PGIB, can be contacted at (M) +91 9859930710 and e-mail:]

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