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Dealing with infertility can be really disheartening for both men and women. The mental-emotional stress due to infertility can take a heavy toll on a couple’s mental health. More often than not, women face face hurtful remarks about their inability to conceive. People tend to ask if something is wrong with their body or if they need treatment, and that can leave a woman disturbed. It may sound unfair, but women are more prone to being blamed for infertility issues than men.
HealthShots got in touch with Dr Rohit Gutgutia, Medical Director at Nova IVF Fertility, Eastern India, on International Women’s Day to discuss this social reality and why this needs to end!
Dr Gutgutia said, “Though both men and women can suffer with fertility issues, unfortunately, more often than not, it is the woman, who is blamed when a couple is childless after marriage. Even in today’s day and age, there are so many inaccurate and misinformed narratives around infertility in our country. This can have a serious effect on the emotional well-being of women suffering with fertility issues.”
Infertility is a condition when a couple is unable to have children after trying to conceive for at least a year without any contraception. It is medically and scientifically proven that the underlying cause of infertility can be traced to both men and women. In fact, about one-third of cases of infertility can be attributed to men, one third to women, and the other one-third to both or they may be unexplained
But society at large holds women at fault. Especially in areas where there is lack of education, women are outcast for not bearing children. Things are not made easier when the male partner is reluctant to get tested for fertility issues, as they think their manhood is being questioned. Male factor infertility is a major reason for the inability to conceive. They may have low sperm count or poor sperm motility or abnormal morphology, but due to societal stigma, male infertility often remains undiagnosed.
There is a crucial need for awareness around this issue and it must start from the grassroots. People in a woman’s life – be it parents, spouse, in-laws, friends, co-workers, employers, etc need to be educated about fertility problems. The unscientific and inaccurate beliefs need to be challenged, so women don’t have to suffer from the stigma and feel unnecessary shame and guilt when they have familial and social interactions.
Dr Gutgutia said, “Awareness can be created by holding fertility awareness camps, community meetings, and highlighting the issue in mainstream media, so the conversation around the issue begins. Whenever a couple is facing fertility issues, both the male and the female partner need to be tested. Loved ones need to be supportive and empathetic. Providing emotional support by being understanding will be very helpful.
Also, take this quiz: Are you prone to infertility? Find out with this quiz
It is encouraging to see that the narrative is changing slightly for the better. With more prominent women speaking out about their struggles with infertility, the information is reaching out to the general public, but we still have a long way to go. There is a need for a holistic awareness campaign involving government organizations, fertility healthcare providers, famous personalities, and the media regarding this issue. Only then we will make some headway in reducing the burden women of this country face when it comes to infertility.