Ujjain: ‘Reproductive health issues of women need a different approach’

Ujjain: Reproductive health of a woman is affected by a variety of socio-cultural and biological factors and depends largely on the type of labor they have gone through. Surveys have surfaced that how lack of knowledge among women on sex, contraception, pregnancy and abortion has been affecting their reproductive health. The success rate of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) like IVF is 40% which is today a $30 billion industry in India with over 3,000 clinics across the country. However, due to lack of appropriate legislation, there are frequent cases when clinics have overstepped ethical boundaries, said an expert.

Dr Naresh Purohit, epidemiologist and executive member of the Indian Menopausal Society, presented his study titled ‘ART-A Dangerous Trend’ at a national seminar on challenges in reproductive health management held at Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune recently. After presenting his study, he told Free Press that there is a boom in IVF (in-vitro-fertilisation) across the country because cases of pregnancies in late age, probably due to late marriages, single parenthood and women opting to have children at a later age, are increasing. The social stigma of being childless and going for adoption has increased the demand for ART procedures such as IVF, sperm donation and surrogacy, he said.

Dr Purohit said that lack of regulation has led to a surge in commercialisation of IVF treatment and unethical practices. According to the Artificial Reproductive Technology Bill- 2017; a draft legislation which is yet to be passed by parliament, ART should not be made available to women below the age of 18 and above the age of 45. This is an acknowledgement on the serious health risks under adverse circumstances. He pointed that ART procedures are too risky for the post-menopausal women because their bodies are then not fit to bear children after 50. There are many complications in such procedures that can bring lives of both women and their children, at risk. 

“Post-menopausal pregnancies can increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes, preterm labor, pre-eclampsia and other complications of pregnancy and childbirth. After menopause, the progesterone hormone drops to their minimum levels. Old age also weakens other organ systems. These factors vastly increase the risk of pregnancy complications in women who conceive after the age of 45,” he added.

He raised an issue in his study that clinics that help elderly couples conceive are being deeply callous of the social consequences-because the children of such couples may well become orphans in just a few years.

“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has for several years tried to introduce a bill to regulate the use of IVF technology for geriatric couples. Even though the ART bill was drafted in 2008 (and has gone through three versions, in 2008, 2010 and 2014), it is still to be tabled in parliament. The bill proposes an age-limit for couples attempting parenthood through IVF, i.e. 45 years for women and 50 years for men, and seeks the implementation of surrogacy boards at both national and state levels,” he averred.

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