It is believed that nearly 15% of the Indian population suffers from some form of infertility. Research, in fact, indicates that India has witnessed a 20-30% surge in infertility cases in the past 5 years. The volume of people affected by it sums up to be more than 150 million. Every year 10 million new cases are adding up in India.
The global IVF market is expected to grow to $21.6 billion by 2020, fuelled by an increasing demand for treatment.
InfertilityDost is at its nascent stage but with burgeoning market of IVF it is sure to make an impact in the time to come.
Life is not fair always and when it is not, it is one hell of a life!
Let’s Understand Infertility
Firstly, infertility is a disease like any other. When a couple seeks medical intervention to assist them with conception it is called infertility treatments. It can be resolved simply by procedures like IUI, IVF, ICSI etc and when nothing works a couple can consider surrogacy, adoption or even stay childfree.
Being Called Banhj
In India infertility stop being just a disease and gets related to all sorts of questionable and vague ideas like it is caused due to past life bad karma or blamed onto woman’s life choices (social drinking, wearing high heels, more focussed on career, cares less for husband, isn’t disciplined about religious rituals etc.) thereby licensing society to call women undergoing infertility by condescending tag of “banjh” (infertile). On some happy occasion, they aren’t allowed to participate for the fear of bringing bad luck.
And, just when you start thinking that this doesn’t happen in metros or among educated people; the situation is worse. There is an eerie silence around this subject. Couples often get taunted and poked with intrusive questions so they go to any length to hide and avoid getting tagged. The social taboos around infertility catalyze in enhancing the already existing physical, emotional, financial and relationship stress. Depression, stress and domestic violence are just some of the outcomes.
FertilityDost, is India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. They facilitate right guidance so that couples can make good decisions and stay away from misleading advertisements and fraud clinics, answer their queries by connecting them to experts, keep them motivated throughout this tough phase of life, reinforcing their strength and hope, helping them #StandUp and fight society’s stereotypes and prejudices, and simply reassuring them that everything is gonna be all right.
What FertilityDost Wants?
InfertilityDost aims to build a complete ecosystem for infertility patients making support and knowledge accessible so that they can stay informed. There are many pain points in the journey of an infertility patient and InfertilityDost wishes to handhold at each stage, guide and provide services that can alleviate the ignorance and discomfort faced.
Studies have shown that women suffering from infertility have a stress level that equals a cancer patient. Unfortunately, the social apathy for infertility patients is appalling and transcends sane logic. We want to #BreakTaboos and #BreakSilence around infertility. More than 150 million couples in India suffer infertility in pain and silence. We need to give them an understanding social environment so that can deal with the situation better. We must educate the society by #Spreading Awareness and #Talking Openly about infertility
Often it is seen that it is the woman who bears the brunt of infertility. The social and family pressures play havoc with their life which actually comes to a standstill. They forgo their career, become reticent, and add to it the physical trauma of treatments. Amidst all this, the women question their self-worth. They get influenced and take wrong decisions. We want to empower woman by providing support and information to take the right decision and to follow the choice that makes them (and only them) happy.
With real-life stories, they inspire and educate. They openly talk about various aspects of this journey so that they don’t feel alone. Couples undergoing infertility treatment just need a sensitive environment to heal their emotional bruises and fight back with grit.
What Fertility Dost Offers?
They aim to organize the IVF and infertility treatment market through 3 core services:
- Handholding the patient throughout their treatment journey and beyond through support and counselling ecosystem.
- Facilitate selection of providers by patient-provider interaction (IVF clinics, diagnostics, and ancillary services) from our portal thus saving time, cost and harassment of treatment.
- Bring transparency in the assisted IVF treatment( egg donor/sperm donor) by digitization of process and organic procurement of good quality donors.
- A one stop solution for all infertility and IVF information.
- Accurate information on various aspects of infertility through blogs– emotional, social, psychological, financial, physical and medical.
- Expert panel to cut through myths and guide couples. We have naturopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, psychologists onboard.
- Collates and shares real-life journey of women to provide hope and inspiration.
- Find and review doctors to ensure that couples reach the right doctor and avoid being cheated.
- Discussion forum to find support, create bonds and discuss almost everything related to the subject of infertility
- The comfort of anonymity – On our website, a person can log in and choose a pen name to stay anonymous because the subject of infertility is so personal that a lot of people might not be comfortable being seen especially when everything is linked to social media.
- Conduct talks and workshops at various cities to spread awareness and break social taboo and humiliation around the subject of infertility.
- Helping women acknowledge that help is available and they are not alone.
- Trust is their main strength. For the first time the founder shares her own story. This has encouraged many women to contribute their own stories that have inspired many.
- Real emotions, real information from people who have been in it. No run-of-the-mill marketing type of information.
- Easy to understand information and emotions so that common person can connect instantly.
- There is no other website in India by an Indian woman talking about the subject of infertility. This bold step has encouraged many women to come out of their depression and fears. They don’t feel alone now.
Why & How The Journey Of FertilityDost Began?
About Founder, Gitanjali Banerjee
She is a regular middle-class woman like you who got into an arranged marriage at the age of 23 years simply because you must get married when you reach a certain age and when your parents say. After one year of customary honeymoon, it was time to hit the next milestone – motherhood. And, with this began the 10 long and grueling years of fighting infertility. Post 5 miscarriages, 3 molar pregnancies, 1 failed IVF, a brush with ovarian cancer and finally successful pregnancy on second IVF attempt- she stands here in front of you to openly talk about her Infertility journey.
Today, she has a little AB baby to shower her love and enjoy the journey of motherhood but she can never forget the pain and suffering, the loneliness, the depression and the desperation, the feeling of being cut-off from society and the turmoil suffered within, during this journey. It has made her who she is today. It is a very important part of her life and my personality.
It was not easy to open up my extremely personal story and discuss this taboo subject. She had fears – fears of being tagged and judged by the society. Her tryst with infertility over a period of 10 years has convinced her that there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence and one must reach out to them. There is an urgent need to reach to them and tell them, “You are not alone”. And, eventually, with a lot of strength and support, she managed to overcome all her fears and hesitation and, start InfertilityDost. The website was officially launched in August 2016 through the idea and preparation had started way before.She first tested waters with a facebook group and the way women opened their hearts and spoke, convinced her further on the need for a bigger platform.
There are many layers of suffering through the process of IVF – medical, physical, mental, psychological, financial, and social that leads to marital discord, falling into depression, even to the extent of getting suicidal, cutting oneself off socially, and a lot of trauma. There are cycles of hope and frustration. There are choices to make. There are tough decisions to take. Gitanjali has been through all this. The path to IVF is no easy task. Only the brave can tread through. And, today through this blog she wants to salute each and every couple who is or has been through IVF.
Academically, she is a JNU pass out (so feminism runs in her blood innately) and professionally she has been involved in the e-commerce space for over 8 years now. She started as a content writer picking odd content jobs from sites like odesk and Elance. Thereafter, she learnt the art and worked with brands like MakeMy Trip, Educomp and Policybazaar in their content marketing space with the last designation as Content Manager. She did climb up the ladder quickly! She realized that she was passionate about blogging and how it can bring about a difference in people’s life. She has a travel blog, Travel By Karma where she shares her tell-tales about offbeat destinations and experiences. As God would want it she had a burning desire to do something about people suffering infertility for she had experienced the pain first-hand and then she also had blogging skills. She found her true calling in combining this to create awareness and support for infertility.
She adds “Fertility Dost is a part of my life, it is my dream, my passion and my true calling. I wish to reach out to as many people as possible through this. And, if can reduce pain and suffering of even a few couples undergoing this journey, if I can make the society even a little bit sensitive, I will know that my life was worth living.”