The Family Planning Association explained that an estimated 10% to 20% of married couples were faced with the issue of sub-fertility and thereby the inability to conceive, specifically to get pregnant.
Director Medical – Association, Dr. Harishchandra Yakandawala said that although no proper research or survey had been conducted in this regard, island-wide the figure was estimated to be more than 15%. A Cabinet memorandum by the Ministry of Health recently revealed that the prevalence was 15%, noting further that sub fertility was oft accompanied by “psychological suffering, intimate partner violence, low confidence, depression, sexual problems, feeling of shame and guilt, and isolation from friends and family,”.
The biggest problem is the lack of proper knowledge with regard to reproductive health, he added.
According to him, sub-fertility affected both males and females equally. In the case of males, they suffer from having a low sperm count or from erectile dysfunction. In the case of females, they suffer from ovulation related issues or they cannot retain the pregnancy and carry it to term.
Around 60% to 70% out of the said over 15% of couples who are thus affected, are subsequently able to conceive following treatment including psychological counseling and guidance while about 25% have no result from such and instead have to go for advanced sub-fertility management technologies such as in-vitro fertilization (test tube babies).
However, in the State and Government health sector, some of these treatment methods and facilities are not available owing to the fact that they are expensive (costing between Rs 500,000 to Rs 1 million and available only in the private sector). Thus, poor couples who are the ones mostly affected by sub-fertility cannot afford such due to the monetary factor.
“They do not know how a child is conceived. They do not know about how the body functions. They do not know how to have sex. They do not know how to get pregnant. They do not know when or what time they should have sex. The latter is of particular importance due to the fact that the ovum, the female egg would only be there for a period of 24 hours and if the couple does not meet during this period they cannot conceive. They should know these things yet they do not. If they do not plan for the pregnancy they will experience difficulties in getting pregnant,” he explained.