LAHORE - Lone expert on infertility in the Punjab public sector believes that men and women are equally responsible for infertility related complications while 10 per cent such cases in couples remain unexplained even after the clinical investigation.

40 per cent of the causes of infertility in couples are male related, 40 percent female and 10 per cent in both while 10 per cent are unexplainable, said Dr Salman Ahmed Imtiaz, In-charge Assisted Conception Unit (ACU) at Services Hospital Lahore.

He told The Nation that one in 12 or 8pc of the couples are facing infertility related problems and this centre is the only such facility in public sector in the province.

Though prevalence of infertility is high in the province, majority of the couples can get children without going for the last option of test tube baby. This can happen if couples address infertility related issues under the supervision and guidance of a qualified doctor.

The infertility can be primary or secondary. Primary refers to couples who have never conceived and secondary to those unable to conceive following previous pregnancy.

Those who don’t contact the qualified doctors can be trapped in the hands of quacks and inexperienced practitioners that ultimately results in aggravation of problems.

As quacks use heavy metals and steroids, people get complications like kidney malfunctioning besides aggravation of infertility related problems, said Dr Salman who is a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and one of the qualified embryologists in Lahore.

About common problems of infertility in male, he said: “There could be lack of sperm production, blockage in the delivery system, infection, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, hypertension, mums, injury to testis, tuberculosis and ulcer.

“Unhealthy dietary habits, physical inactivity, smoking, intake of drugs, consumption of alcohol, steroids, and frequent sauna bath can reduce sperm count.

“People performing hard duties like drivers, veldors, tandorchi and those staying in sunshine for a longer period can face infertility related complications.”

Referring to the possible reasons of infertility in females, he said stones in uterus, blockage in tube, lack of egg production, hormonal imbalance, thyroid, high blood pressure, diabetes, tuberculosis and obesity are common problems.

“Causes of infertility in majority of the couples can be addressed. Only few need latest techniques for pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are not enough centres to provide diagnosis and treatment to the infertile couples.

“There are about 10 qualified embryologists in the country including three to four in the City to deal complicated cases.”

Assisted Reproductive Techniques like IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) are latest methods applied on infertile couples.

Only qualified embryologist can apply these techniques at a centre with proper infrastructure and trained staff.

Gynaecologists can deal normal infertility cases and not complicated ones, he said.

Dr Salman said that ACU at Services Hospital was providing cheaper treatment to the people as compared to the private clinics. The cost of applying latest technique like test tube baby is Rs150,000 in the public and Rs350,000 in the private sector, he told The Nation.

“At least 35 couples visit the unit daily. Consultancy fee is not charged from these people. Nominal charges are taken for different tests. Government should establish more centres for facilitating increasing infertile couples. There is need of launching public awareness campaign regarding infertility causes and precautionary measures,” he said.

“We have treated hundreds of infertile couples and with the blessing of Almighty Allah they are now having babies. Some of them had to go through latest technologies like IUI, IVF and ICSI.”

The success rate of assisted reproductive techniques is higher among young women and it decreases with the increase in age.

“There are 40-60 per cent chances of a woman taking baby home when her age is from 20-30 years. The chances decreases to 30 percent among 30-35 years old women, 15-20 percent among 40 and above and merely 05 per cent among women above 45 years of age,” Dr Salman said.