Sunday July 21, 2019

Increasing popularity of egg freezing among Indians, social stigma continues

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New Delhi: Women were filled with new hope when former Miss World Diana Hayden, 42, brought her first child into the world as a result of freezing her human egg eight years ago. However, societal unacceptance attached to it continues to prove a hindrance to this new age process.

While young Indians feel that freezing of human egg is a smart move for career-oriented women, social stigma continues to be attached to the new-age fertilization process, say medical experts.

Egg freezing is still not very popular in India, said Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF Specialist at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre.

“People in India still open their eyes wide if they hear such things, especially in joint and conservative families. On the other hand, IVF has been accepted widely in India, but egg freezing is yet to gain approval or social acceptability in India,” Gupta told reporters.

Another expert, Anubha Singh, gynecologist and IVF Expert at Shantah IVF Center, said that “egg freezing is not a normal procedure like IVF or surrogacy, but if you are an individual and you don’t need any family member’s approval, you can definitely go for this”.

The procedure, however, has caught the people’s attention here in the past two to three years.

Singh said it was in 2014 when technology conglomerates Apple and Facebook announced that they will pay for the egg freezing process of their women employees.

“They took the decision to attract more female employees and maintain their retention rates so that they may have prolonged careers,” said Singh.

Internationally, egg freezing is a route that Hollywood celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Kim Kardashian have taken. And in India, Diana has set an example.

Is the method more popular among celebrities than commoners?

“Egg freezing is a costly affair and is mostly taken up by high-profile people,” Gupta said.

The costs of preserving eggs is very high.

In India, freezing embryos costs Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month, and the frozen embryo transfer cycle costs Rs.100,000 to Rs.200,000 per cycle. Embryo transfer is the main part of the IVF process – and it usually takes 10 to 15 days to be injected in a woman’s womb.

Thus, egg freezing is mostly popular among Page 3 celebrities or among people with higher spending powers, Gupta added.

“Many couples who work for IT firms, BPOs and in management backgrounds are busy with their careers and delay the baby-making process, thereby, giving them a reason to opt for freezing their sperms or eggs. Besides a prosperous career, the uncertainty of marriage and fear of infertility are two other major factors contributing to this trend (of increasing queries on egg-freezing),” she said.

But before taking a decision, be aware that egg freezing isn’t a sure shot guarantee of pregnancy.

“First of all, the success rate of egg freezing is not 100 percent as chances of viable pregnancies are only 30 to 35 percent. You just can’t freeze your eggs once, sit back and relax. Even if you freeze your eggs at an early age, you have to get your IVF cycle done before you turn 45-years-old.

“So, limitations are always there,” Aanchal Aggarwal, IVF specialist at the BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, told reporters.

In Britain, 18,000 eggs were frozen till 2012. Of these, only 580 embryos were formed, eventually generating only 20 live births, according to an earlier report.

“So, you can clearly notice that the difference between the ratio of eggs which is 18,000 and live births which is only 20,” said Singh, adding: “It is best if you freeze embryos (combination of eggs and sperm) rather than eggs.”

“The cost of freezing embryos is the same as the cost of freezing eggs, but freezing embryos is more result-oriented in comparison,” Singh concluded.(Nivedita, IANS) (Image source: vogue.com)

Next Story

As Venezuela’s Healthcare Collapses, Women and Girls Dying Needlessly

The surgeon is one of only three left at the Concepcion Palacios hospital in the Venezuelan capital

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Venezuela, Healthcare, Pregnant Women
Venezuelan girls beg for change where Venezuelans cross illegally into Colombia near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, April 14, 2019. VOA

In Caracas’s main maternity hospital the blood banks and medicine cabinets are empty, the power and water regularly cut out — and women and girls are dying needlessly, according to one of the few remaining doctors, Luisangela Correa.

The surgeon is one of only three left at the Concepcion Palacios hospital in the Venezuelan capital, where the lifts and most toilets are closed and there are no bandages, sterilizers or X-ray services.

“We are like trapped, kept hostage by this situation … hope is what keeps us here,” Correa, 45, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If we haven’t left the hospital, it’s because we hope that things will improve.”

Venezuela, Healthcare, Pregnant Women
A Venezuelan migrant woman holds a baby outside an immigration processing office on the Rumichaca bridge after crossing the border from Colombia to Rumichaca, Ecuador, June 12, 2019. VOA

One in four have left

Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country to escape an economic and political crisis that has left about seven million — one in four — in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

Its human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said last week after a three-day mission in March to the troubled South American country that Venezuela’s healthcare sector was in “critical condition.”

A lack of basic medicine and equipment was “causing preventable deaths,” she said — something Correa is witnessing at first hand.

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Infection rates at the maternity hospital are high because cleaners do not have disinfectants to wash away bacteria and there are no sterilizers for doctors to clean their equipment, she said.

“Currently, maternity is a risk for Venezuelan women, as it is for babies … many give birth at home, in the street,” Correa said.

“And there are no blood banks. Any complications from heavy bleeding is a very big risk of death for a patient.”

Correa, the U.N. and women’s rights groups all said unsanitary hospital conditions along with food and medical shortages had led to a rise in maternal mortality rates.

Venezuela, Healthcare, Pregnant Women
In Caracas’s main maternity hospital the blood banks and medicine cabinets are empty. VOA

U.N. findings disputed

The Venezuelan government disputed the findings of the U.N. report and said in a written response that maternal mortality rates had decreased by nearly 14% between 2016 and 2018.

Venezuela’s national healthcare system, once considered a model for Latin America, is now plagued by shortages of imported drugs and thousands of doctors and nurses no longer show up for work, their salaries ravaged by inflation.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said there is little need for humanitarian aid, blaming U.S. sanctions for the oil-rich country’s economic problems.

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The United States imposed tough sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in January in an effort to oust Maduro in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by more than 50 governments.

‘100% shortage’

CEPAZ, a coalition of women’s rights groups, has said Venezuela’s maternal mortality rates have increased by 65% from 2013 to 2016, with nearly 800 women dying.

Bachelet’s report cited a national survey that showed 1,557 people died due to lack of supplies in hospitals between November 2018 and February 2019.

Correa said she was seeing more pregnant teenage girls seeking care because they cannot find or afford contraception and do not receive sex education in schools.

According to the U.N. report, teenage pregnancies have risen by 65% since 2015, and several cities in Venezuela face a “100% shortage” of all types of contraception.

Strict abortion law

Due to Venezuela’s strict abortion law, which only allows the procedure under limited circumstances, some women and girls resort to unsafe abortions.

This has contributed to a rise in preventable maternal mortality, with about 20% of maternal deaths reportedly linked to unsafe abortions, the U.N. said in its report.

Correa says she is determined to continue to speak out about the dire conditions in public hospitals and help women in need. “The only thing we have are the outcries and hope that this will change,” she said. “My people, my country need me at this moment.” (VOA)