At a popular fertility clinic on Saturday afternoon, the waiting room was full. Amongst mothers, mothers-in-law and toddlers sat several young couples waiting for a consultation.
A 26-year-old woman, married for barely two years, was going in for a procedure to check for problems in conceiving. “For the last year, my husband and I have been trying to have a baby and when it didn’t happen, we decided to come in for a check-up,” she said.
There was no direct pressure from the families, she said. “My family, in fact, said to wait for a while before seeking treatment but I really want a baby now,” she said.
Over the last few years, fertility clinics in the city have seen a rise in the number of young couples, married for just a year or two, seeking help with conception.
“About 40 per cent of my patients come within a year of marriage,” said Geetha Haripriya, chairperson, Prashanth Fertility Research Centre. Late marriages, stressful jobs and lifestyle disorders, coupled with an increased awareness about problems, have led to the surge, she said.
“There is also a fear that something could be wrong and that should be dealt with as soon as possible. Many young people Google possible conditions and then come to us,” she said.
And it’s not just at private clinics; the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Egmore, too, has seen this trend, said director Meena Umachander. “The problem is, many couples decide not to have the baby for the first couple of years. After that when they do want a baby and do not conceive within a couple of months, they seek treatment. With the incidence of male infertility on the rise and pressure from families, the anxiety begins. In many cases, they just do not give themselves enough time to conceive naturally,” she said.
Of the 90-odd infertility cases the institute sees every week, eight or nine are of young couples, many of whom have been married only six to eight months, said Dr. Umachander.
The usual procedure, said Priya Selvaraj, infertologist, GG Hospital, was to first find out the history of the patient, counsel them, and, after a basic check-up, ask them to try longer if there were no known medical issues. If, after three or six months, they were still unable to conceive, then medical procedures could begin.
At GG Hospital, there have been 162 patients this year, between the ages of 19 and 25, with 67 married for less than three years. A young couple there said they had been to two other clinics before being referred, and though they hadn’t been married long, wanted to sort out any medical problems.
While being aware of one’s body and health issues is important, doctors cautioned against beginning invasive treatment too soon.
“If there is a history of medical problems known to the couple, then treatment can be given right away. Age need not be a criterion to defer treatment, but invasive procedures can be deferred if there is an option for natural conception with just medication,” said Dr. Selvaraj.