As assisted births rise, hospitals scale up infrastructure

Hospital chains in south India say they have seen a spurt in IVF demand in the past few years.

Avik Das | TNN
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BENGALURU: There has been a surge in demand for assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), as lifestyle changes increase infertility rates and as more Indians shed their inhibitions about such treatments.

Hospital chains in south India say they have seen a spurt in IVF demand in the past few years.

“When I started my practice in 1997, about 15%-20% of infertility had a male factor, but now that has increased to 50%. Now, there’s a rising number of young women with low ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure. Some girls in their late 20s have negligible eggs,” Dr Aviva Pinto Rodrigues, senior fertility consultant and IVF expert in Nova IVI Fertility, said. Nova has 20 centres in India, including two in Bengaluru.

IVF demand sees rise as pregnancy age crosses 30

Increased Awareness, Erratic Lifestyles And Urban Stress Are Factors: Hospitals

Infertility affects 10-15% of married couples in India. Close to 27.5 million couples actively seeking children are estimated to suffer from infertility. The chances of infertility arising because of female factors are about the same as that of male factors. Vijayarathna Venkataraman, CEO of mother and childcare chain Motherhood, says erratic working hours and late night shifts, especially in the tech sector, and urban stress are contributing factors. These result in hormonal issues and subsequent difficulties in conceiving naturally.

Saritha Vijayanagar, CEO of Manipal Fertility, said female factors include the growing incidence of polycystic ovarian disease or a condition called endometrial tuberculosis. “A significant part of the problem is also sperm defect,” she said. Tobacco consumption, excessive drinking, obesity caused due to high intake of junk food, and sexually transmitted diseases can lead to lower sperm counts among men.

Cloudnine, which has six centres in Bengaluru and nine in the rest of the country, provides IVF facilities in three of its Bengaluru hospitals. “When we started IVF in 2014, we used to do 25 cycles per month, which has now zoomed to 200,” said managing director Rohit MA. Cloudnine provides four services — obstetrics, fertility, neonatology and paediatrics — and while IVF contributes about 15% to the topline, it is growing at a scorching pace of 40% year on year.

The India IVF market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 20% to 260,000 cycles by 2020, from 100,000 in 2015, according to a report from consultancy firm EY in 2015.

And there’s no guarantee that a treatment will succeed. The global success average in IVF is 40%-50%. Venkataraman says success rates are high up to the age of 28 years for women. “But the rate drops by 50% once the mother’s age touches 34 years,” he says.

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