Though India is the second most populous country, it witnessed only 20 per cent compound annual growth rate in the healthcare fertility segment over the last five years, which is paradoxical. In fact, the fertility trend among couples is on the rise and there is a massive demand across smaller cities in the country for fertility treatments. Unfortunately, stigma and apprehensions associated with fertility or IVF treatments deters couples from seeking timely intervention to help them achieve their dream of becoming parents. However, the advancements in the field of assisted reproduction have enhanced the efficacy of fertility treatments and added altogether a new dimension to the fertility segment.
The surge in Indian couples’ infertility ratio
In India, there is a growing trend of fertility issues among both men and women. To address the issue, the supply for fertility services has also increased across the country especially in tier 2 and 3 cities. Among the urban population, increased work pressure and irregular/sedentary lifestyle play a huge role in the rising rate of infertility. Till date, in some cities in India, fertility issues are taboo and lack of awareness about infertility adds to the already existing challenges, which needs to be addressed as about 20 per cent of the country’s population is suffering from fertility issues.
Impact of pandemic
While the effect of pandemic is certainly here to stay for a while now, couples postponing or delaying treatments can have their chances of conception severely impacted. Further postponement leads to advanced maternal age thus decreasing the chances of obtaining the best results out of fertility treatments.
Also, long hours of work from home can further lead to lack of vitamin D in the body that can cause several fertility issues. To add to this is the sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and proper nutrition, which can adversely impact the fertility of couples. The constant struggle to strike a balance between work and home has also elevated the stress levels of couples, which can also have adverse impact on their fertility.
According to a study, 29 per cent of India’s corporate labour force is experiencing increased burnout at work, which is impacting their mental and physical health.
Couples should start taking care of themselves and be very cautious about their health conditions like thyroid disorders, diabetes, hypertension, as it may reduce their fertility potential. It is also important to focus on improving lifestyle for a better quality of life and to keep lifestyle disorders at bay.
Reasons behind the increased number of IVF treatments in 2021
The Covid-19 health crisis has been a huge challenge for many couples, who are undergoing or planning for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment in India. But now, with the ongoing vaccination drive, the situation is improving and couples are resuming their fertility treatments or starting afresh. During the pandemic, we at Nova IVF Fertility witnessed over 25,000 new couples, who came forward for their fertility assessment and IVF treatment. In fact, 100 of these patients have recovered from Covid-19 and started their treatment as well and 40 couples have already embarked on their journey to parenthood.
What will be the post-pandemic scenario in India’s fertility segment?
Couples are now coming to the realization that the pandemic is here to stay, and time-sensitive procedures like IVF or other assisted reproductive treatments cannot be postponed for long. Couples are now slowly learning to cope with the pandemic, go on with their routine by taking the right kind of precautions and following safety norms. IVF chains are now prepared more than ever to assist these couples with seamless treatments. Safety precautions for the patients and the staff are of utmost priority across the healthcare industry.
On an average around 2-2.5 lakh, IVF cycles are done every year in India. It is predicted that the number of IVF cycles per couple which was 1.5 lakh in 2015 is estimated to increase to 3.5 lakh in 2022. The fertility segment in India has grown by 20 per cent CAGR over the last 5 years.
India’s fertility segment will witness improved accessibility to affordable fertility treatments and with the advent of technology being adopted to enhance fertility treatments will certainly result in increased demand for more fertility centres in the coming years.
(The author is chief executive officer at Nova IVF fertility. Views expressed are personal.)