Fertile young couples too seek lab babies

Super-busy working couples opt for ART because they don’t have enough time for natural conception
Husband’s got the sperm, wife’s got the eggs, what they haven’t got is the time to make a baby . Not when his job overseas -or on the high seas -takes him out of home most of the year, year after year. Or both work irreconcilable shifts. This is what’s pushing fertile young couples to fertility clinics where they conceive through assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is a popular choice with such couples. In this the sperm is placed inside the uterus to facilitate fertilization. The number of couples seeking this process is on the rise.

Timing is everything for these assisted pregnancies. If the husband works abroad, we have to get the wife pregnant within the first couple of months of him leaving. Otherwise questions will be raised as to how she got pregnant when her husband was not around. If she does not get preg nant through the first cycle, we wait till he is in town again, before we begin the next cycle of treatment.

This procedure is less expensive than the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) method used on couples with fertility issues. In IVF, an egg and sperm are fertilized outside the body and then the embryo transferred to the uterus, explains Dr Priya Selvaraj, fertility specialist at GG Hospital in Chennai. While IUI costs around Rs 8,000, an IVF cycle can cost Rs 2 lakh.

In most Indian households, say the doctors, ART is still looked down upon. In the past, it was mostly middle-income couples who approached  for a quick pregnancy solution -the husband was generally a blue collar worker in the Middle East. Of late, the affluent too are consulting with her, not wanting to set aside time for procreation lest it got in the way of promotion. Her most recent case was a young merchant navy captain, who said he was setting sail in a few days and wanted to begin the process of having a baby . His wife told me she was living with his parents while he was away and since they were married for a few years, she was being questioned about why they hadn’t conceived yet. The captain was willing to have his sperm frozen so his wife could conceive while he was sailing.

As in all ART treatments, the couple is counselled through the process.I have women breaking down in my clinic because they feel they’re all alone even when they are conceiving a child which a couple is supposed to do together.

While most doctors don’t recommend ART for fertile couples, they find that they are sometimes left with no choice. Gautham, for instance, says that when a couple comes to her for ART, and she finds their fertility test results are normal, she advises them to try and conceive the natural way .Test Tube Baby

But they tell us that they find it difficult to be sexually active even once a month because while they live in the same house, they have different work shifts. Medical studies too state that it takes six months to a year for most couples to get pregnant if they have regular sex without contraception.

They refuse to give up or change their jobs or slow down their lifestyle, but are willing to start on ART because they are being pressured by family to produce children.