Dr Aanchal Agarwal, Head Consultant IVF and Reproductive Medicine, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, in conversation with Shahid Akhter, ENN talks about the grim infertility scenario and the complex IVF issues
Could you please throw some light on the prime reasons for escalation in fertility?
More people are focusing on their careers and are marrying late. The very process of planning a baby is delayed. Even today, most women are unaware of the exponential decline of fertility after the age of 35.
Latest research indicates that 10 percent urban Indian couples in their reproductive age are infertile. However, among women of 35 years of age and above, it is as high as 30 to 40 percent, because women are born with a fixed pool of eggs: one to two million at birth, 3,00,000 to 5,00,000 at puberty, which reduces to about 25,000 when a woman turn 37, and further goes down to 1,000 by the time she hits menopause.
We also see an increase in numbers now-a-days because of late marriages, corporate culture with high stress and targets to be met. With westernization, come smoking, alcoholism and junk food.
What are the risks involved in IVF or any other ART treatments?
The only risks involved are multiple pregnancy and Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). There are no risks to health or life associated with IVF attempts.
Please tell us something about the embryology lab at BLK.
The embryology lab at BLK Super Speciality Hospital is a modular lab built according to ESHRE guidelines. It has all the modern equipments required with a very strict quality control.
What is the IVF success rate at BLK and your USP? Any example of extraordinary IVF treatment.
The success rate at IVF centre of the BLK Super Speciality hospital is approx 45 to 50 percent per cycle. There have been months when the success rate touched even 80 percent. We have given results in multiple failed cycles at other centres.
Of late, we have handled many complicated cases of multiple IVF attempts. I could recall of two unusual cases. First, a lady who was affected with polio virus since her childhood and was recommended at many centres that she could not conceive. Her desire to have a baby never ended until she came to our center and tried for IVF. Hers was a complicated case but with the techniques that we use and personal attention, she was able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby.
Secondly, a patient from Haryana has been trying to conceive through various means and had already tried 14 IVF attempts. Her hopes were still alive and that gave her courage to try for another IVF attempt at BLK SSH. She conceived in the 15th attempt and gave birth to a healthy baby at full term.
We expertise in handling such complex cases and bring smile on the face of the couples.
To what extent does IVF contribute to medical tourism?
Indian is an economical market when it comes to egg or embryo donors. In India, it is easier to get donors and surrogates which makes it lucrative for the foreign patients to get donors that too at much economical price as compared to European market. In Britain, there is acute shortage of eggs resulting in a long wait for years. Also, globally there is a cap on number of embryos being planted in the womb. In India, it is different. Here, market rules, donors are available easily, and we have expertise in IVF. It is a market of ut-price genetic material from a pool of highly trained, English-speaking doctors who can address the concerns of a lot of foreigners who travel here in want of children.
What makes India a fertile option for IVF treatment?
India is high on technology and medical expertise, and IVF treatment in India is three to five times less expensive as compared to Europe. Also, as mentioned earlier, donors are easily available.
What services you offer by way of surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person. This woman may be the childs genetic mother (called traditional surrogacy), or she may carry the pregnancy to delivery after having an embryo, to which she has no genetic relationship, transferred to her uterus (called gestational surrogacy). If the pregnant woman received compensation for carrying and delivering the child (besides medical and other reasonable expenses) the arrangement is called a commercial surrogacy. BLK SSH IVF Centre offers all kinds of IVF services including IVF-ICSI, egg donation, embryo donation and surrogacy. Surrogacy is commercial and legal in India but getting tainted.
As you offer surrogacy services, what do you think is the biggest challenge that the surrogacy industry facing in India today?
India has too many IVF centres many of which are not even registered or approved. The biggest need of this hour is a strict control and regularization on mushrooming of IVF centres in every street and corner of the city so that domestic as well as international patients get genuine and quality services.
How do you envision the future of IVF in India?
IVF facility has a lot of scope in India. Research is going on to further increase the success rate so that more and more couples can fulfill their dreams of having their own child. Personally, I feel this is a very noble profession and extremely gratifying. But, the authorities need to exercise strict control over mushrooming of small centres and malpractice by untrained professionals so that in future, only trained specialists are allowed to practice this noble profession.