The organization states that around 17.5 per cent of adults worldwide experience some form of infertility. In India, according to WHO, the overall prevalence of primary infertility ranges between 3.9% and 16.8%. Also, the estimates of infertility vary widely among Indian states from 3.7% in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, to 5% in Andhra Pradesh and 15% in Kashmir.
So, what exactly is infertility? It is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive through normal sexual relations after a year of trying; infertility requires medical interventions so that a couple can conceive a baby.
In conversation with Zee News English, Dr Tanaji Patil of Shree Mahalaxmi Nursing Home & Nexgen IVF Test tube Baby Centre, Kolhapur talks explores more about the rising prevalence and incidences of male infertility in India.
“While women tend to suffer the effects of infertility and childlessness more, it is only recently that male infertility is becoming a less taboo subject. However, awareness and sensitization on these issues are still required, especially in Tier II and III cities,” says Dr Tanaji Patil.
What Are The Causes of Male Infertility?
It is a myth to believe that infertility issues are related to the gender of a person. Both males and females may share equal blame for the failure to conceive naturally.
A significant roadblock when seeking infertility treatment is that many couples tend to avoid tests, besides the inability to meet an infertility expert who can help manage most cases with accessible, conventional therapies.
Some common causes of male infertility, particularly in India, include:
One of the most common reasons for male infertility in India is sperm disorders, including low sperm count or sperm with low mobility. Dr Tanaji mentions, “Since the urban lifestyle has drastically changed, especially in the last 15-20 years, with growing stress and rising addiction to alcohol and smoking, infertility issues have also increased dramatically.”
When coupled with other problems like hormone disorders, childhood infections, and long-term sickness, sperm disorders are a significant cause of infertility in men.
Stress and Obesity
Two of the leading causes of male infertility, especially in urban India, are stress and obesity. The growing cases of anxiety-induced stress and obesity because of sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits are causing havoc on men’s reproductive health.
As per a recent Cancer India report, in 2020, 4,38,297 men diagnosed with cancer died from this deadly disease. Although cancer can be successfully treated, especially if they are diagnosed at an early stage, it can cause infertility issues. Besides the condition, treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to treat the tumours also impact male fertility.
Male Infertility: Way Forward
In many parts of India, infertility is still considered taboo and a social stigma. Couples are scared and shy about sharing and discussing this problem, especially with their immediate family and friends.
All this leads to a lack of understanding about infertility and, even worse, the spreading of misinformation, which poses a significant challenge, particularly in villages and smaller cities in India.
“Although there has been an increasing trend of infertile couples seeking treatment and a rise of fertility services providers throughout India, we still have a long way to go to ensure awareness about infertility (mainly male infertility), its possible treatment options and alternatives to natural conception accessible to the broader population of the country,” highlights Dr Tanaji before concluding.