The last few years have seen a noteworthy rise in the demand for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services in India. The reasons for this are multifold from societal changes, technological advancements and easy accessibility of treatment among others. However, some hurdles at several levels remain which too need to be addressed.
The positive trend in favour of IVF treatment, especially due to recent advancements in the field of reproductive medicine does offer hope to couples facing infertility challenges but to give further wind to these positive changes it is important that equitable access, ethical practices, and holistic support is ensured. Furthermore, we need a collaborative effort from healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the community to sail through the complexities and ensure the well-being of individuals and families on their journey towards parenthood.
The catalysts that are pushing this trend in favour of IVF present an interesting study in changing lifestyles, societal norms, advancement in reproductive technologies and how demand pushes up availability or vice versa.
Catalysts Fueling Expansion
Changing modern-day lifestyles, and delayed parenthood, characterized by factors such as late marriages, professional and career ambitions, increasing trends of obesity and increasing individual freedom to choose among the available options, do contribute to delayed parenthood.
As individuals and couples postpone family planning, the incidence of age-related fertility issues has increased, leading to a higher demand for assisted reproductive technologies like IVF.
Growing awareness and acceptance of infertility issues in society and families coupled with the availability and easy accessibility of advanced reproductive treatments is encouraging more and more couples to seek medical help. It has been seen that the erstwhile social stigma associated with infertility is gradually diminishing, leading to greater acceptance of IVF as a viable option for conception.
But one major reason that has pushed the demand for IVF in the country is the recent technological advancements the field has been witness to. Continuous advancements in IVF technologies, such as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) and time-lapse embryo monitoring, have enhanced success rates and attracted a wider demographic of patients.
What has given a further boost to this technological push is the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in fertility treatments. Now technology has enabled the provision of customized and more personalized treatment leading to more effective interventions and positive outcomes.
Another reason that shows high figures for IVF use in India is Medical Tourism. In recent years India has emerged as a prominent destination for medical tourism in the various medical fields and the field of reproductive health is no exception in this regard. The easy availability of cost-effective yet high-quality IVF services is attracting international patients, boosting the country’s reputation as a hub for assisted reproductive treatments. The increased professionalism and market consciousness from the IVF centres is only aiding this trend further.
When talking about the present and anticipated hurdles in the IVF field in India, affordability and accessibility, figure on top.
Despite the cost-effectiveness of IVF in India compared to many Western countries, for a majority section of the population, affordability remains a challenge. What is needed is to enable easy accessibility to fertility treatments in remote areas and tier-II cities. This will go a long way in further boosting the IVF trend in the country.
It is also to be acknowledged that the evolving landscape of reproductive technologies raises several ethical concerns, including the potential for misuse and the need for clear regulations. In this case, the government and policy makers must work to strike a balance between facilitating technological advancements and safeguarding ethical considerations.
Though some significant change in society’s attitude towards infertility issues has been witnessed still a lot needs to be done to enhance psychological and emotional support for families taking the IVF option.
Even today emotional toll of infertility is often underestimated, and there is a need for comprehensive psychological support for couples in the form of establishing counseling services and support. Also needed are increased awareness and targeted education campaigns among the public to address IVF-related issues.
The author is a Gynecologist Obstetrician and IVF Expert – Nurture IVF Clinic.