At a press briefing held at Birth Hospital to raise awareness around female infertility, leading In vitro fertilization (IVF) specialist Dr. Gautam Khastgir, Medical Director, BIRTH, revealed that 25 million Indian women suffer from Endometriosisaccording to Endometriosis Society of India.
An estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years are affected from Endometriosis, which is approximately 176 million women in the world. Endometriosis is a gynecological condition which occurs when endometrial tissue starts growing outside the uterus, like on the fallopian tubes, ovaries or the pelvis. It causes inflammation around the pelvis which is often painful. It also hampers the chances of conceiving by preventing the sperm reaching the egg. And as the fusion of both is difficult due to inflammation around the uterus, a woman’s fertilization chances become less. The relationship between endometriosis and infertility has been debated for many years, however reports show that infertile women are 6 to 8 times more likely to have endometriosis than fertile women. The incidence of infertility in India is at approximately 4% as per Indian Council of Medical Research and according to WHO, in different age groups, the overall prevalence of primary infertility is estimated to be between 3.9 and 16.8 per cent.
The diagnosis of endometriosis is based upon history and symptoms. The “normalisation” of symptoms due to lack of awareness results in delayed diagnosis and treatment. Painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility are a few symptoms of endometriosis. Dr. Gautam Khastgir, Medical Director, BIRTH, said, “Endometriosis can’t be cured but can be effectively treated with drugs. An early diagnosis and an expert’s advice can help in managing this challenging condition in a better way. A patient suffering from this problem not only gets affected with physical pain but also feels disturbed mentally. Apart from this, the costs incurred for the diagnosis and treatment also adds an economic burden. Clinicians should be aware of the chronic and recurrent nature of the disease and choose appropriate management according to the age and need of the patient keeping in mind the long-term complications and sequalae”. Sensitisation is the key to make people aware of the problem. Changing lifestyle habits and increased stress levels are catalysts to this commonly occurring health condition among both the urban and rural population. Many couples are still unaware about the underlying reasons of being infertile, and don’t consider endometriosis as a major problem.
Although there has been an increase in the awareness to integrate infertility prevention, care and treatment into the basic health care services, we still rank very low on the public health agenda in our country, which is also facing a population pressure.