KOCHI: When the world is celebrating 40 years of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), an innovation in fertility, the increasing infertility rate in Kerala is a major concern. The state which has 42 specialised infertility clinics registers more than 1,000 births through assisted reproduction methods every year. With the rate of infertility increasing from 10 per cent two decades ago to more than 20 per cent now, the number of infertility clinics also shows a significant increase. There were only 20 IVF clinics in 2012 which made a quick jump to 42 in 2017.
According to fertility specialists, number of childless couple is on the upward trajectory not due to increased infertility among couples, but due to late marriages and delay in conceiving. “Nearly 90 per cent of the couples coming to our clinic are not infertile, but they are moving towards infertile situation due to several reasons. Now, women’s average marriage age is 25 while the men marry by age 30. They do not try for a child soon after marriage citing other prerequisites in life. Hence, they have to depend on assisted reproduction methods,” said Dr K.K. Gopinathan, Head of Department of OBG and chairman of CIMAR (Centre for Infertility Management & Assisted Reproduction) Hospitals, Edappal and Kochi.
With the increasing number of infertility centres in the state, Dr Gopinathan stressed on the need to have effective government intervention to monitor them.
The normal cost for the IVF treatment in Kerala ranges from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. “Increasing infertility can be attributed to several factors like late marriage, less frequency of sex, stress at workplace, lifestyle disease and internet addiction. With the number of childless couple going up, government’s intervention is crucial to bring down the cost of infertility treatment,” said Dr Vijayalakshmi of Vijayalakshmi Medical Centre, Kochi. Earlier, childless couples waited for three or four years before they opt for assisted reproduction. However, couples go for IVF or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) soon after they realise that it is the only option available.