The world's first test-tube baby was born on July 25, 1978, giving hope to people who could not have children by natural means. In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that there were approximately 180 million couples struggling with infertility across the world and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) helps bridge the gap.
To celebrate IVF and bust the taboo regarding the negative connotation around infertility, experts around the world came together in 2017 to announce July 24 as World IVF Day.
What is in vitro fertilisation?
In vitro fertilisation is the fusing of an egg and sperm to form an embryo. The ovary is stimulated to grow follicles (fluid-filled sacs in the ovary that contain eggs). The growth of the eggs are closely monitored and after they mature to a certain level, they are transferred to a woman's body.
Reasons behind rising infertility among today's youth
Dr Haricharan, a consultant gynaecologist and IVF specialist at Indira IVF Centre in Bengaluru, told International Business Times, India, that the main reasons for infertility is late marriage, delaying parenthood and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
He added that in the rural areas, infertility is caused due to infections and diseases like tuberculosis that damage reproductive organs.
Dr Haricharan added that due to the exceedingly sedentary lifestyle, many women also suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that makes child-bearing more difficult.
IVF centres are also mushrooming in the country due to the easy availability of technology. "IVF technology has become a standardised technology because of lab standardisation. Due to this, everyone can afford to start the clinic because it affords a reasonably good success rate" said Dr Haricharan.
Does IVF work against population control?
With the population expanding drastically, India is likely to become one of the most populous countries in a few years. Many ask if we really need more IVF clinics when we are trying to control population explosion?
Surprisingly, Dr Haricharan says that IVF clinics and helping people have babies does not have anything to do with the population. As an IVF specialist, he helps people at a micro-level while population control is a problem for the society and the government at a macro-level. He adds that if he does not help people with fertility issues, he would be denying basic human rights.
He emphasised that adding one or two children in the world is not an indication of "not trying to control population".
Can IVF become more affordable?
While there is access to IVF technology, not many people utilise the service due to the exorbitant amount required for each attempt. "Each attempt will roughly cost Rs 1 lakh and a client will have at least three to four attempts before declaring the uterus as hostile," Dr Haricharan explained. The success rate for IVF per sitting is 50 percent and each cycle is a huge bet for the patient.
To make IVF technology more affordable, Dr Haricharan says that India will have to stop importing technology. At the moment, 50 percent of the population cannot afford IVF.