"Worldwide, one in every six couples has difficulty in conceiving. About 50 percent of the infertility problems is contributed by the male factor. But stress and environmental pollution are considered two key factors for childlessness among couples now," said noted infertility specialist Rajeev Agarwal.
Launching the LEAF Foundation (Learning and Educating about Fertility Foundation) here Monday to provide assistance to couples facing the crisis of infertility, Agarwal said: "Stress is a very big factor for infertility. Often couples conceive when the stress factor is removed from their lives."
"Delay in marriage, choosing careers over babies, changing food habits, environmental pollution, all are proving to be nails in the coffin of fertility. The final nail of course is stress which stems from work, from relatives as well as from peers," said Agarwal, who has set up Care IVF earlier with Sadhana Desai of Mumbai. Desai is one of the senior-most IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation) specialists in the country who is credited with the second IVF baby of India.
Stress and environmental pollution reduce the sperm count in males. While a couple is considered infertile if after one year of adequate unprotected intercourse the woman fails to conceive, the problem in our society becomes more social.
"So counselling is very important along with medical expertise to treat them. The aim of LEAF Foundation would be patient education and creating support groups for them to make them feel that they are not alone," said Agarwal, whose clinic Care IVF formed the foundation.
"We earlier made an attempt to do a sperm count mapping of the Kolkata residents but that failed because the people were not willing to cooperate. But we have reasons to believe that a traffic sergeant who is exposed to pollution on the road daylong is more prone to lose his sperm count," Agarwal said.
We hope that the foundation will encourage childless couples to opt for proper treatment. We want to bring forward past successful patients to the forefront so that others may learn from their experience and find comfort.
"It will allow dissemination of knowledge and information so that the stigma of infertility is reduced. It will also help poor patients get treatment which otherwise would be out of their reach," he said.
Noted gynaecologist B.D. Mukherjee said: "We need a body like LEAF Foundation to dispel myths around infertility. It will also help remove male ego about infertility, since 50 percent cases of infertility are owing to male factors."