HomeInfertilityInfertility TreatmentFrom Taboo to Mainstream: The Journey of Infertility Treatments in India

From Taboo to Mainstream: The Journey of Infertility Treatments in India

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If you rewind just a little bit, medical history suggests that the first baby born through in-vitro fertilization in India was on October 03, 1978. It has been over four decades since then. Despite the advancements in the field of medicine, discussions concerning infertility and associated treatments have only become mainstream in the recent past.

With a population of 1.3 billion and more, reports from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) suggest that up to 15% of the country’s population experience issues with fertility. Whether due to lack of awareness or access to tangible resources, women have often been on the receiving end of the blame pertaining to infertility issues.

However, times are changing and so are the thought process of people. With more scientific evidence pouring in, reports suggest that females and males account for 40% each when it comes to accountability for infertility.

This article will shed more light on India’s Journey in Infertility Treatments and how things have changed since the first process in 1978.

What was the First IVF procedure in India?

It has been over 40 years since the first successful IVF baby in India was successfully done by Dr. Subhash Mukerjee in the year of 1978. Despite the breakthrough, Dr. Mukherjee’s work wasn’t documented, which left a crack in the learning experience of the future generation.

However, theoretical reports suggest that Dr. Mukherjee leveraged the use of “Human Menopausal Gonadotrophics” to augment the ovulation process in the female patient. This resulted in optimal production of the eggs, which were retrieved and fertilized with the collected and isolated sperm sample from the woman’s partner.

The fertilization was done in-vitro and the fertilized embryo was kept frozen for up to 53 days, arresting its growth in the eight-cell stage. Following that, the embryo was transferred into the mother’s uterus.

Remember that we are talking about the year 1978 when discussions surrounding infertility and opting for a foreign treatment like IVF were considered a major taboo.

People believe that the success of the first IVF baby in 1978 was the first step toward social change in India. It enabled more people to explore the positive aspect of infertility and get proper help as needed to conceive a biological child.

What is the first Documented IVF Procedure in India?

As we mentioned before, Dr. Mukherjee’s IVF success was no doubt the first one to be recorded in India but it wasn’t a documented process.

However, following the success of the first IVF baby and the optimal health of the newborn, and the rising acceptability surrounding the concept in the Indian society, the Indian Council of Medical Research established the Institute of Research and Reproduction in 1982.

It is currently known as ICMR- National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health. This initiative would later change the journey and improvement of infertility treatment in India.

The first-ever documented IVF procedure, following the establishment of the Research Institute, was on August 06, 1986. Since the process was documented, the birth of the second IVF baby, Harsha, contributed to a crucial turning point in the country.

It took a step toward destigmatizing conversations about the concepts of “what is infertility in males and females?” and “what is infertility test?” and the possible options to overcome the shortcomings. It implored people to have an open conversation surrounding a subject that was once considered “taboo”.

Following the popularity of the second IVF baby in India, the country’s medical advancements have now introduced a series of other Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ARTs) including artificial insemination, Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), embryo transfer (ET), and many more.

What is the Legal Outlook on ARTs?

With the growing popularity of different techniques of ARTs came the need for a centralized registry that would record and standardize all the involved data involved in the procedure. Having an open database, especially surrounding the registered clinics and hospitals enabled the patients to have a clear understanding of the success rates and involvement.

That was when the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill was drafted in 2017. The bill regulated and monitored the operation of the registered ART clinics across India to ensure safe medical practices and prevent misuse of the techniques and the financial liabilities involved in the process.

The primary objective of the bill was to eradicate malpractices involving ARTs in India and it successfully did the same.

The inspiration for this bill came from the United Kingdom where all the registered ART clinics have to submit their data (success and failure) to the central registry. This unified data is publicly accessible by the interested candidates to check a particular clinic’s success rate and effectiveness before making a decision to go ahead with their treatment.

What is the Male and Female Infertility Ratio in India?

In order to understand how infertility occurs in males and how infertility occurs in females, the first step is knowing the infertility ratio.

As of 2021 reports, the incidence of infertility in males and females is 30% each and 30% is due to issues in both the partners and 10% contributes to unexplained infertility.

The reason why infertility is increasing in India is a variable answer. Some suggest it is due to the drastic changes in lifestyle, practical stressors in life, and even environmental factors.

Some even suggest that the ongoing trend of late marriage and delayed planning for a child could be contributing factors as well. Since age plays a quintessential role in infertility (especially in women), trying for a baby after 35 can impose issues with a successful conception. However, that isn’t a “standard”. The ability to conceive is subjective and depends on the reproductive health of the couples trying for a baby.

How does the Future of Infertility Treatments Look like in India?

Discussions surrounding infertility treatments have become more open and accepting. People are leveraging advancements in medicine to streamline their chances of a natural pregnancy.

So, what does it mean for fertility treatments in India?

Well, the future for these treatments is quite bright in the country. As the procedures become more and more refined, couples who are struggling to conceive will have the procedures as a part of their consideration.

No longer are discussions around infertility a blaring taboo. Shifts in society are gradual but quite effective.

FAQs

Why is infertility on a rise in India?

Several factors are contributing to infertility in individuals in India, including poor lifestyle choices, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, environmental factors, and many more.

What are the popular assistive fertility treatments in India?

Several types of fertility treatments are becoming more mainstream in India, including In-vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination (IUI), etc.

When did infertility treatments start in the world?

The first record of infertility treatment dates back to the 1880s by Dr. William Pancoast.

Conclusion

The facet of conversations surrounding infertility and the emerging treatment options is shifting in India. Not only are people becoming more receptive to the concepts, but they are also imploring the options in case of personal conflicts. There is a lot more to unravel and grow in the field of medicine and fertility treatments in India but things are looking up ever since the first success in 1978.

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.

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