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It’s fertile, not futile

This femtech startup has been disseminating information and helping couples make empowered decisions, writes Ranjita Biswas
Last Updated : 03 April 2021, 19:30 IST
Last Updated : 03 April 2021, 19:30 IST

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Gitanjali Banerjee
Gitanjali Banerjee
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To give birth to a child is one dream that every woman nurtures. Sometimes in this quest, if it doesn’t happen in the natural course, many women go through fertility treatments to achieve the goal. If they fail to conceive despite the efforts, it may lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness because there are social pressures as well. Thus there are many issues involved here. Gitanjali Banerjee, content manager, blogger, and social entrepreneur, knows it all because, in her own words, “While working in the corporate sector, I was silently and painfully going through fertility treatments. I was continuously visiting the doctor. Even my family wondered what was wrong with me as I was in good health. The societal apathy, taboos, corporate condescending behaviour and confusion in treatment path were some of the glaring issues that I observed during my personal health journey.” This is how the seeds of Fertility Dost, her brainchild, were sown.

“I wanted to share my story of this journey of ten years. After having my son with the help of IVF in the second attempt, I started writing about it in my blog around 2014 reaching out to women in a similar situation to share that, ‘You are not alone’.”

Fertility Dost was started around mid-2016, first as a closed Facebook group because as Gitanjali confesses, she was “scared of being judged. It was to test the waters.” But within a month, she received such an overwhelming response and ‘deeply engaging talk’ among the women that she realised there was no looking back. An entrepreneurship programme at IIT, Delhi, boosted her confidence that she was on the right path. Fertility Dost was officially registered in 2017.

Gitanjali claims that ‘Fertility Dost’ is the first and only femtech platform in the fertility segment in India that works from a patient’s perspective. “Most of the wellness specific health apps or platforms have fertility as a small subset. We specialise in fertility counselling, peer support, query resolution, education, curated fertility wellness programme and, most importantly, online fertility screening tool,” she says.

‘Map My Fertility’ is another segment of the programme. “It shows a woman where she is biologically at the moment. It transforms social behaviour vis-a-vis fertility health helping to bring it into the preventive segment. Early intervention ensures better management and can save the cost and emotional complications of IVF treatment,” Gitanjali says.

They also have a Fertility Coaching programme where couples can ask experts any questions to clear doubts about fertility issues and ask for guidance. “We have couples coming from smaller towns where they say going to a fertility expert is almost taboo, or may raise eyebrows and hence they come to us.”

Fertility Dost works in collaboration with a number of doctors but Gitanjali asserts, “We never tell the clients where to go for the treatment. We don’t paint a rosy picture either. IVF may fail at the first attempt, or even later. One should be prepared for it and it’s better to have a second set of plans.” Adoption is one option.

Hence there are counselling sessions offered on adoption too because it needs a lot of mental preparation as well. Presently Fertility Dost has chapters of support groups in multi cities. Now it is planning to take out literature in vernacular languages too and also reach out to women in Tier-2 cities.

The pandemic has somewhat slowed down these plans. But Gitanjali is not one to sit around moping. So they have launched a wellness programme with virtual classes on yoga, counselling, food and nutrition, etc., with the message, ‘Let’s prepare the body meanwhile.’

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Published 03 April 2021, 19:18 IST

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