Doctors across Pune have been baffled by previously ‘thought-to-be infertile’ couples who have conceived naturally during the lockdown.
A woman in her late 30s — undergoing treatment for unexplained infertility — was set to receive some injections when the entire country went into lockdown on March 24. She could not complete the treatment, but by the final week of April, doctors noticed the woman had conceived naturally — without any help from modern medicine.
Another case that has stunned doctors involves a 30-year-old resident of Warje who was diagnosed with low sperm count. His wife conceived naturally, a few weeks into the lockdown.
“Nine of our patients, who could not complete IVF treatments, have conceived naturally during the lockdown months,” said gynaecologist and IVF expert Amit Patankar.
The Warje resident and his wife were planning to opt for an advanced assisted reproductive technique (ART) called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), but were unable to start treatment. In ICSI, a single healthy sperm is injected directly into the egg. The couple are now pregnant after seven years of marriage.
Doctors believe a drop in stress levels, mainly due to the work-from-home option, and simply more time spent with each other could be causing the uptick.
One of Patankar’s patients is a 30-year-old man with extremely low sperm count and poor sperm motility. “The normal range of sperm count in 1 ml of semen starts from 15 million sperms. This man had a sperm count of two million. Again, his sperm motility was considered very poor for natural conception. But his wife conceived naturally during the lockdown. I am baffled,” said the senior doctor.
Sunita Tandulwadkar, a gynaecologist and IVF expert, told TOI she’s had three such cases. “Three women in the past two months, who were planning to start IVF treatment, have conceived naturally during the lockdown.”
Sadhana and Sanjeev Khurd, both IVF experts, said: “The reason for such spontaneous pregnancy is that during pre-IVF treatment, both husband and wife are given antioxidant drugs to enhance the performance of sperm and egg and improve endometrial lining for embryo-implantation. The effect of these antioxidant drugs continue even after the IVF cycle has been halted. That is why 10-20% of women conceive spontaneously even after failed a IVF cycle within one to six months.”
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. This hampers conception.
Senior gynaecologist Girija Wagh said: “The lockdown has given these couples an opportunity to connect better. It has given them an opportunity to breathe healthy air, eat healthy food and live a stress-free life. Stressors are known endocrine (hormonal) disruptors.”