New Delhi: Once upon a time, In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) was largely popular among middle-aged women to resolve pregnancy problems. But now young urban women who are unable to conceive due to a stressful life, long working hours and late marriages are incresingly falling back on it, experts say.
"Earlier, most of my patients who used to opt for IVF treatment were in the age group of 38-45 years. But in the last six-seven years, I have observed a shift in the age group of women seeking this treatment," said Indira Ganeshan, IVF expert and gynecologist.
"Today, about 70 percent of my patients are in the age group of 23-32. This trend is visible only in urban areas. The reasons behind this shift are multiple. Urban couples are stress-laden with both husband and wife working for long hours. They don`t have the time and patience to develop a nurturing relationship and want fast results," she added.
IVF is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the human body. Hormonal injections are given to the patient to increase the productivity of the eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm of the partner within a controlled cultured environment.
The fertilised egg is then transferred to the patient`s uterus with the aim of establishing a successful pregnancy.
Ganeshan pointed out the IVF reached India simultaneously after its invention -- the world`s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born July 25, 1978, in Britain. India`s first IVF baby Durga was born Oct 3 the same year.
While IVF has been around for more than three decades, its demand has shot up in the last few years.
Hormonal imbalances, tubal blockage, azoospermia (complete absence or inadequate sperm) used to be usual factors responsible for infertility, and now a hectic lifestyle is creating problems for couples.
Ila Gupta suggested that couples detect the cause of infertility as soon as possible because the success rate of IVF comes down with ageing.
"When a person comes for IVF treatment, it implies that other modes of treatment have failed. It is always advisable to know your problem, accept it and then go for the treatment," Gupta, head of the reproductive unit, Artemis Health Institute in Gurgaon, told IANS.
"As you grow older the success rate of IVF goes down. For a 30-34 year old woman, the success rate will be 40 to 45 percent. Those who are above 35, the success rate will be 30 to 35 percent. At 40, it comes down to 15 percent and after that, there are only five percent chances. So, the sooner the better," she added.
One of the reasons for an increase in the demand for IVF is people`s changing mindsets.
Previously, couples believed that IVF is an unnatural way of getting pregnant. However, now there is a marked shift in the perception of people.
"The trend is definitely increasing. More and more people are open to the concept of taking IVF treatment now than they were 10 years ago. There are multiple reasons behind this. First and foremost, young couples are more aware, they don`t want to sit and brood over the problems faced by them in starting a family," said Ganeshan.
"Secondly, they also have the financial means to undertake this treatment. Last but not the least, these couples also face a lot of peer pressure," she added.
The procedure usually costs anything between Rs.80,000-Rs.100,000 and is not harmful if done by an expert.
But one should take a few precautions before opting for the treatment.
"If a woman is overweight, then losing weight helps. Even five percent reduction in weight improves her response to medicines. The drug requirement also goes down. Exercise and yoga help to improve blood circulation in the reproductive organs. The couple should ensure that they have time for the treatment and that they are not stressed about their work," Gupta suggested.