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Times of India
23 June 2010
Chennai, India

There may not be a census of infertile people in the world, but anecdotal evidence, cases studies and medical literature point to the fact that an increasing number of men and women are losing their ability to procreate.

Many desperate couples are now willing to go in for adoption either because they can’t afford the infertility treatment or because they are not sure of the results. R Padmavathi, a school teacher in Chennai, knew that she would not be able to afford Rs 1 lakh for the treatment cycle.

"I have polycystic ovaries, a condition which affects production of eggs. Doctors said I had no chance of natural conception. The treatment was too expensive and my only hope was health insurance. But they declined to cover the treatment," she said.

Doctors said they also see lack of quality and quantity of eggs and sperms in healthy adults.
"We know fertility declines with age. It markedly goes down from the age of 35. Chances of natural conception declines as the woman ages and hence couples have to depend on artificial methods," said Dr Jayashree Gajaraj, consultant gynaecologist, Fortis Malar Hospital.

Such methods, however, are not completely reliable, as the success rate is not more than 35% for live births. Says R Shanmugapriya, a housewife in the city , who tried In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) without results: "We have been married for more than ten years now. I am 49. I came here when I was 40 and went through two cycles of IVF. Two years ago, doctors counselled me to go in for adoption. Now, I am being told that for my age, I may not get a newborn."

Willingness on the part of couples to take medical advice has also contributed to the lengthening queues at fertility clinics. Doctors say that they see more families willing to accept male infertility. Until some years ago, only a woman was subjected to tests, but today men are willing to go in for semen analysis.

"Infertility has added to the problems of illegal adoption. We are evolving strategies to deal with the medical problem as much as the crime," said health secretary VK Subburaj.

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