KARACHI: Health experts believe couples in Pakistani society feel ashamed to seek treatment for infertility.
Despite the rising number of cases each year, men and women in Pakistan rarely approach or seek available resources for infertility treatment. There is a dire need to spread awareness related to diagnosis, testing and treatment of fertility-related conditions in Pakistan.
These views were expressed at a seminar, ‘Parental Happiness’, held in collaboration with the Sindh Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Atia General Hospital and Express Media Group. Dr Shaheen Zafar, a consultant at Atia General Hospital and an infertility specialist, was the chief guest while Dr Sehar Seemi, Dr Ayesha Hussain, Dr Sadaf Ahmed, Prof Sirajud Daula and Express Publications Executive Director Azfar Nizami were among those who participated and spoke at the event.
Dr Zafar said infertility is found among both men and women and the problem was becoming grave due to non-treatment and the stigma associated with it. However, medical science has introduced solutions to infertility, she said, adding that most people who are unable to conceive a child shy away from speaking about it.
“High costs of treatment also inhibit people from seeking medical assistance,” she said, sharing that an increasing number of women who marry after 30 years of age are reporting problems with fertility while men who marry after 40 are also at risk.
In our society, mostly women are blamed for infertility even though men are at equal risk of being infertile, she said, adding that many men consider it shameful to get tested for infertility.
Men can get themselves examined by a male-factor test while female examination can be made via ultrasound.
Many couples have been increasingly opting for dilation and curettage, also called a D&C, which is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated so that the uterine lining can be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument to remove abnormal tissues. This procedure may also cause infertility, according to health experts.
Facilities for infertility tests are now available in Pakistan, Dr Zafar noted, emphasising that we should know the underlying causes of infertility.
“Various technologies can be used to solve problems associated with infertility. Couples should not waste time and get themselves tested immediately,” she urged.
Dr Hussain said that Pakistan ranked number nine in terms of the incidence of obesity among citizens. “We do not pay attention to obesity. A high body mass index is a risk factor for infertility,” she said, explaining one can easily check for obesity by examining their weight and height.
Ideally, a person’s weight should correspond with their height.
The problem of obesity, according to Dr Hussain, has been growing in Pakistan due to an increase in dining out.
Dr Seemi said that these issues emerge as age increases. Problems in the reproductive system can be treated by reducing weight, Dr Seemi advised.
Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed listed down some factors which can lead to infertility, including stress, extensive use of medicines and increase in negative thoughts.
Men don’t express their feelings in our society, Dr Ahmed highlighted, saying that fighting with your own emotions can cause infertility. “Many treatments fail due an increased level of mental pressure,” Dr Ahmed shared.
Prof Daula said that the public should focus on cleanliness as a tidy environment is necessary for the solution to this problem. “The trend to smoke and eat gutka has increased among people, which are dangerous habits for people’s health. It is very important to avoid poisoning the environment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nizami said the Express Media Group is engaged in holding awareness seminars for the last one year. “This seminar was conduct to change the ideology of people and enlighten them,” he said.
Shields were distributed among all health experts at the end of the event.