Overcoming hindrances to motherhood

Overcoming hindrances to motherhood

In India, 25 per cent women are suffering from irregular periods or associated problems, states a study by the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC). The Sedentary lifestyle, increasing consumption of junk food and lack of physical activity are some of the common reasons that doctors and gynaecologists attribute to this increasing hormonal imbalances in women.

One of the most common among them is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) — suffered by one out of five women in India (according to survey conducted by Metropolis Healthcare) — which causes difficulties in conceiving, but is curable over a period of time.

However, Premature Ovarian Failure (PoF) is another such condition, which refers to a loss of normal function of ovaries before the age of 40. The ovaries fail to produce normal amount of the hormone oestrogen or release eggs regularly. It causes complete failure of ovaries, leading to early menopause (which normally starts between the age of 45 to 55) and infertility.

The ISEC survey highlighted that on an average nearly four per cent of Indian women are already menopausal between the ages of 29 to 34 years. It goes up to eight per cent in the case of women between 35 to 39 years.

Exploring further, Metrolife spoke to a few gynaecologists who provided deeper insight into this otherwise unavoidable condition.

“The most baffling thing about PoF is that sometimes, the causes might just be unknown. One can develop the condition genetically, if a mother or sibling is suffering from the same. If after puberty, a girl doesn’t have a single menstrual cycle, she must get herself diagnosed for PoF. However, in some cases, the definite cause of a person suffering from PoF might be unknown,” says Dr Shobha Gupta, IVF expert, Mothers Lap IVF Centre.

From the past few years there are a number of things that can lead to premature menopause. Sometimes these things are a result of lifestyle choices that include smoking, drinking, thyroid or auto immune diseases, exposure to radiation like chemotherapy or radiotherapy and poor nutrition. Alongside, genital tuberculosis is also one of the reasons for ovaries failure.

“The cause of PoF remains undetermined in majority of cases but changing food habits, work cultures with increased pressure and high stress jobs are some of the reasons,” adds Dr Gupta.

Speaking of increasing stress levels and changed lifestyle of women, Dr Gauri Devi, senior consultant, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Ridge IVF Hospital, shares one of her experiences with Metrolife.

“Once, when I was on a campaign at Tihar Jail, I was shocked to find out that half of the female inmates didn’t have their menstrual cycle for two to three months because of stress. Thus, acute stress levels can also cause temporary failure of ovaries,” says Dr Devi.
As she reports that the incidence of temporary ovarian failure is very less, one can always get checked for PoF, even in the least expected scenarios.

She adds, “Causes of PoF can also range from autoimmune diseases and infections. There are chances when a viral infection can hit ovaries and cause a permanent failure. For cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, or those who get surgical removal of tumours, even they have chances of having ovarian failure.”

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