On the onset of the spring season, the seventeenth day of the third month in 2018, around 10’O clock in the morning, about 70 women gathered around in the National Crafts Museum, Delhi with their best smile to build a support group to raise the issue of fertility wellness.
Fertility has been such a tabooed subject that women can’t share their struggles and feelings out loud. Infertility Dost in collaboration with VLCC, Nova IVI Fertility and ClickSutra, provided a platform for such women to be vocal about their journey and further help in empowering more women about the issues of infertility, Endometriosis, Ovarian issues, career and fertility balance, infertility, IVF, miscarriages, period issues and a whole gamut of taboo subjects.
The Purpose Of The Open Forum
According to a survey from EY, India faces a high burden of infertility, with the 22 to 33 million couples in the reproductive age suffering from lifetime infertility. Even with such a huge percentage of women, infertility is still whispered behind closed doors majorly due to the societal pressure that makes such women feel ashamed to talk about their fertility problems.
Every woman with infertility issues feels sad, broken and worthless in the times of infertility with no way out of their life. The pain that each of such women feel eats them up and this further affects their health too. It is not only about the physical difficulties these women face, but it is also more about the mental and emotional trauma they undergo every day.
The thought was to bring all such women on one platform and form a support group for sharing stories, spreading positivity and encouraging each other in the most difficult times of fighting fertility issues. This coffee talk was aimed to provide a safe forum for such women to open up and pour out all their feelings with no fear of judgment. We love to show compassion and hope to all such women so that they can get their emotional wellness back and get on with their life with a new found zest.
Expert Panel Speakers
Dr Parul, Fertility Consultant, NOVA
Dr Roma, Psychologist, Gangaram Hospital
Deepti Verma, Diet Consultant, VLCC
Bringing the concern of why our lifestyle doesn’t support much of the fertility health, Deepti Verma, head of nutrition department of VLCC, shared that the life today is such an automated mode with a lot of distractions with an unhealthy lifestyle that our body clock does go for a holiday if ignored. She stressed on the importance of a healthy lifestyle to avoid such problems of infertility in the future and spoke about the holistic balance of life with a good sleep, right food habits and exercise in balancing the work-health relationship.
Dr. Parul, Fertility Consultant, an IVF specialist and gynecologist from NOVA IVI, highlighted that infertility is a silent disease, but has an impact on a couple’s mental and social well being. “It has been consistently associated with a feeling of unhappiness and emptiness in a woman’s life”, she said and the women present at the event couldn’t agree more with it.
Dr. Roma, Phycologist, with an experience of more than 25 years is a psychologist with Gangaram Hospital, said, “Today, our hasty lifestyles coupled with lack of sleep, rest, consumption of a lot of food (especially sugars and processed foods), unending stress, and very little or no physical activity have thrown our hormones into a tizzy. This frenzy of hormonal over activity, coupled with little or no physical work and poor resting can completely throw our bodies off balance.”
Intense Discussions On The Struggles With Infertility | A Take On The Society’s Role
There were a host of intense discussions ranging from sex and pregnancy to society with no boundaries. One of the major factors that could be concluded is the societal pressure that one has to go through due to the fact that she is a woman, no matter if she is a teenager or a mother of two children. Many women at the event raised this issue of a woman being targeted for infertility issues more than a man with the society making the journey more difficult than it is.
Pushp Dahiya, shared that the aspect of sex, fertility, periods is such a closed subject here in India that a woman doesn’t even know correctly what an orgasm is. Many women are unaware of their own body and health. And it is high time that we all take initiative in finding ourselves. Furthermore, she said that it is high time to transform the societal mindset of women coming in the radar of fertility, to checking the fertility of men.
Under the social pressure, many women are tabooed, who usually takes care of everyone in the home. A wonder woman (who didn’t want to disclose her name), shared her journey in life being single and successful in her profession, belonging to an affluent Delhi family of lawyers. She went through a surgery of removal of the uterus at the age of 19 on which her entire life dependent on. Her journey was filled with questions about marriage, conceiving, motherhood, sex and “log kya kahenge”. She battled all that with pride and elegance, symbolizing that a woman’s life is more about being oneself, and not what the society wants one to be. She is a proud woman, with success in her life in every aspect.
Swarnima Bhattacharya, from womenhealthline, shared her concerned about the limited education we all receive about menstrual hygiene and how the big medical giants work upon our monthly need.
Overwhelming Emotions Flying High
Some of the journeys went through by these women was so touching and emotional that it brought tears to our eyes. One such story was of Purnima Sood who came out in open and shared her battle through the journey of not being able to physically produce a child. With the pressure building, the emotional ruckus driving her pain and the desire of wanting to become a mother stronger than ever, she finally made a bold decision. She broke all the taboos surrounding her and found the joy that she had been missing by adopting a child.
Ms. Sood was overwhelmed with the support and compassion of the women at the meet. She said, ”They listened to me with compassion… Understood without pretension and helped me without entitlement. All this gave me the courage to tell my daughter her birth truth. That very night I told my daughter of 10 years that she is my heart born child. Initially, it was very tough for all three of us but together we sailed through. She is a very understanding daughter and I pray to God to give her strength.”
It was really brave of her to set an example for more such women to follow and find the joy of motherhood to adoption.
Priyanka Giri, an army wife and working women shared her struggle of infertility. She said that the struggle of infertility was so painful to even put it in words that even her family members could not understand her pain. The pressure on her for becoming a mother is so high that it was difficult to even see a child playing outside. More than the physical presence of the child, she felt that the mental, physical and emotional pressure was quite high from the society that made her pain so unbearable.
Many such women shared their personal struggles with the vividness of all the crushing pain they felt and how their emotional state was. Every woman ended with a note on giving strength to other women to break away from the external pressures and pay no heed to the judgmental talks and the gossips moving around them. Many felt an anger towards the way the society made this journey much worse and highlighted on the fact that it was one of the important reasons that pushed people into depression and made them feel less and even worthless.
On A Parting Note…
Giving out a thank you note, Ms. Gitanjali Banerjee, shared her briefly struggle of winning over infertility after 10 years. She shared that this initiative aims to educate people about the issue and try putting an end to the social stigma concocted to women who cannot conceive. She believes one can overcome the situation in many ways in today’s high-technology age although it is important to identify and take right action towards battling fertility issues and told them to have their head held high and walk through this journey with strength and pride.
Among some tears and laughter, the hearty discussion was covered majorly by many social media influencers like Nimisha Arora, Harshmeet Kaur, Deepti Verma, Phusp Dahiya, and Dr. Preeti Nanda and many more.
Reena Dhiman, a participant shared her experience, “A big thank you for organizing such an event. I had a great time not only because I found answers to some fertility questions but also it made me realize that motherhood is not the only aim of a woman’s life. I have met people from all walks of life and what impressed me is that they all are happy in embracing womanhood. It has given me emotional support and I have learnt from them too.”
The group of women in the age group of around 22 to 40-year-old enjoyed chatting on in a closed room without any inhibitions on periods, sex, conceiving, a bit of bashing the societal dogmas and how men are so privileged in talking out of this situation.
What started as an open forum for women to share their feelings out loud ended with compassion and empathy towards each other. The handful of strangers who visited the event left with the happiness of forming some real and the feeling of light heartedness at the thought of finally meeting some people who understood what they felt.
With a hearty conversation and emotions spilling over the table, these women showed that being proud of ourselves and sharing one’s heart out is the best healing medicine ever.
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