The challenge in treating childless couples and helping them to beget a child is what drives this doctor.
Dr. S. Chandralekha is not just a medical practitioner, but a woman who considers it her duty to contribute towards family building and social uplift of women by enabling their child bearing capability.
“Women who cannot bear children suffer social stigma and mental turmoil in our society. There are several factors, besides physiological reasons, that affect conception in today's hectic and materialistic lifestyle. It is to address this issue and restore dignity to women that I chose to specialise in Reproductive Science,” states Dr. Chandralekha, who has been successfully running the Iswarya Women Care and Fertility Centres at Adyar in the city, and at Coimbatore and Palani.
Daughter of P.R. Subbian, Johnson Gold Medallist from the Madras Medical College during the British Raj, Dr. Chandralekha says he was a great inspiration for her during her student days. “My dad was the discoverer of the action of Psoas Major Muscle for which he was conferred the Cooper Award. It was with his motivation that I chose to study medicine,” states the doctor, who was the State topper in the SSLC examination.
She did her MBBS from the Coimbatore Medical College and “I stood first in almost all the subjects – from Anatomy to Gynaecology.” She won seven gold medals for topping in different subjects and was chosen the Best Outgoing Student of the college in 1985-86.
A keen net ball player in her student days, she has garnered several prizes for painting too. “I used to write Tamil poetry, too. But due to my profession, I hardly have any time for my other passions,” she beams.
Talking about the fertility centres, Dr. Chandralekha says that the clinic in Palani, which she set up in 1990, is the first exclusive fertility clinic in the country to be set up in a rural area. “After graduating, I too wanted to do MS in, say, neurology. But then, there was a deeper urge to do something more challenging. My mind would always be pushing me, saying, do something tough, something not done before. Easy things can be done by anybody. But tougher jobs need dedication.”
She says that dealing with infertility and treating childless couples is a complex task. “Each couple has a different problem and needs a different treatment. Each one of them challenges you,” she states.
Since 1990, Dr. Chandralekha has been holding health camps in different places, especially villages. “So far we have held nearly 1200 camps, most of them in villages, where ignorance and poverty are the greatest stumbling blocks. We hold the camps to educate the public, especially women, on general health, reproductive health, hygiene, abortion, etc. Through these efforts, we encourage childless couples to come forward for treatment.”
She also holds camps on adolescent health awareness for girls in schools/colleges in towns. Besides, she organises workshops to discuss ways of improving the success rate of IVF and create awareness among the public about the treatment.
As for the cities, she says the issues are different and the main causes of infertility are late marriage, incompatibility, postponing pregnancy, work-related stress, and lack of time in the case of working couples.
“Initially, we offer couples counselling and encourage healthy living through change in life style, diet and yoga to help them conceive in the natural way. Only after this we start treatment to conceive through IVF.”
The Chennai centre offers facility for women, irrespective of their social status, to stay here from the start of fertility treatment up to delivery.
The highly sophisticated IVF treatment adopting the latest techniques in reproductive medicine is available to the common woman as well as the rich.
“We charge couples only according to their capacity to pay. Sometimes, we waive the fees when they come for repeat treatment.”
The doctor says that several well to do couples who have benefited from her treatment have been encouraged to sponsor poor patients needing similar treatment.
Dr. Chandralekha says that her long-term goal is to make modern-day couples understand the need for family building at an early age.
Early parenthood and bringing up children in the proper way would go a long way in leading a happy life, she concludes. She can be contacted at 98422 40077.