Saturday, Sep 25, 2021 08:00 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Sep 25, 2021 02:22 [IST]

Female Reproductive Health From the Perspective of Our Traditional Societal Context

SAIKAT KUMAR BASU

In our society we often blame the woman for not being able to conceive or due to reproductive failures leading to miscarriage, still birth or high rates of neonatal deaths. But it is time that we need to investigate this injustice towards women from the perspective of our societal practises and our socio- cultural norms. We have to except that our society is always looking for a scapegoat or a pathway to blame another individual or victim who is susceptible to such evil social practises. The young women with low income and social status as well as dependent on the members of the husband’s family both in rural and urban areas are extremely vulnerable to such social prejudices. Such vulnerable and exploited women are often vilified, battered, tortured, humiliated, abused and subjected to deadly domestic violence for their inability to conceive or give birth to an heir to the family.
However we do not pay attention to the various underlying causes that leads to such condition in many young women who are unable to give birth or conceive. In case of developing an under developed countries with huge population density as well as in balance in male to female ratio these incidences are reported frequently. Rather than going for modern medical treatment many of these families subscribe to traditional health practises which are on scientific and often leads to untimely death of the victim instead of treating infertility.
Infertility or failure in conceiving in women depends upon the individual’s current fertility level, abnormalities in the organ structure and function constituting the female reproductive system including malfunctioning of different hormones, malnutrition, low levels of vitamins, haemoglobin, presence of ovarian cysts or other exclusive female reproductive system related diseases. Such problems could either be congenital or may have developed temporarily. Depending upon the conditions of the specific patient she may need short or long term reproductive enhancement medication or hormonal therapy or surgical intervention. Only a gynaecologist would be able to tell after all necessary blood and urine tests, hormonal assays, CT scans and ultra sonography. But these will certainly need medical help and advise.
An impacted patient looking for conceiving abs undergoing challenges to become pregnant may need to undergo highly specific  fertility improvement treatment or may have to opt for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or commonly called  test tube baby approach to have a child. Her medical history and genetic aspect and the environment in which she has lived and is living needs to be investigated, relationship with husband and psychological evaluations may be necessary too. On top of that I would strongly recommend that the husband should also undergo fertility test simultaneously along with his wife. It is quite common in our society to blame the women for not being able to produce a baby; when actually the male individual in the partnership is partially or completely sterile, resulting in reproductive failure.
Men could also have several reproductive failure related issues and problems that needs investigation and medical treatment. We often in a quick judgement and in a very unfair way target our women regarding the burden of the childbirth. When actually the man needs serious medical intervention due to various partial or complete infertility related disorders in the male reproductive system. Low sperm counts, low motility of sperms, sperms with abnormal morphology, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, infection by Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), HIV, AIDS and related diseases can severely impact male fertility levels.
Other important factors contributing towards female infertility could be due not ovulating or releasing eggs from ovaries or blocked fallopian tubes preventing the entry of sperm to get to the egg to achieve fertilization, poor egg quality, the shape of the uterus often makes it hard for a fertilized egg to implant, endometriosis, uterine fibroids. Furthermore, environment pollution, high level of mental stress or anxiety, severe forms of depression,  uncontrolled diabetes, kidney or liver diseases or serious gastrointestinal issues could also play a role on the female body impacting hormonal balance and fertility. Untreated STDs such chlamydia, yeast infection, gonorrhoea, genital ulcers, etc can severely impact female fertility.
Women who are trying to conceive above 40 years of age or more face a wide variety of health challenges. Menopause hits women typically between 45-55 years. But this standard age groups varies according to race, ethnicity, socio-cultural impact, environment, self hygiene, genetics, stress level, nutrition and diet, medical and family history, physical fitness, low haemoglobin, STDs and various other ailments of the urino-genital tract that needs long term treatment through medication or even surgery and major changes in life style practices. Early onset of menopause in some women due to various complex hormonal imbalances contribute towards challenges in conceiving; and needs serious medical care and attention. Women suffering from internal heat flash, discomfort and irregular menstrual pain and irregular as well as short or long term interrupted menstruation cycles or frequent (repetitive) menstruation cycles also complain regarding successful conceiving. All these conditions need serious medical attention and care following prescribed diagnostics tests as suggested by specialist medical professionals.
Colder external temperature slowly starts impacting human body temperature due to a condition called hypothermia. It lowers body temperature and blood circulation making people look paler. You need to drink something warm or high calorie or consume energy drink or food to help fuel up the body temperatures. Under severe cold climatic situation in case of exposed body sudden deaths can occur. It is therefore important to dress appropriately in layers in facing critically coldness external environment. Extreme climatic conditions like these also have impacts on the fertility level of both men and women. The human body under these extreme conditions work hard and spend energy in maintaining the body system or in other words the homeostasis of the body. Therefore, it has less available energy and metabolic resources to fill up the reproductive system are both in men and women under extreme weather and climate conditions. Hence we need to realize that the environment in which we survive has an important impact on our daily life and general physical and mental health and that includes our reproductive health too.
The practice of blaming women for not being able to give birth to a child actually does not always depends upon her exclusively but on several other factors that are either ignored or sidelined by our society. It is quite sad to know that often do women members of the society are more harsh towards childbearing women or women failing to conceive than their male counterparts. The severe treatment of housewives at the hands of their in-laws should be severely  condemned and is a regrettable event in our societal practises that needs serious change in attitude. Hence, it is important for us to be aware and educate ourselves about the various challenges of infertility in both men and women and stood by them at the time of need rather than putting fingers at them and humiliating them. Without any change in our traditional attitude of humiliating women due to lack of proper education and awareness; we will continue to hear such stories throughout our life haunting us for inaction, prejudice and procrastination.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi