Infertility has become a prevalent problem in Pakistan with almost 20% of the population suffering from the affliction. Modern medicine has been able to address the issue of infertility to the extent that roundabout 80% cases of infertility can now be cured. In Pakistan however, there are certain complications that have exacerbated the problem. A major reason for these complications is the media and they way it has addressed the issue of infertility.
A cursory look at many of the dramas aired in Pakistan reveals that childless marriages are often treated as a matter of taboo. Very rarely is the matter of childless marriages even discussed in these productions and when they are represented it is rarely in a positive light. This has contributed to an ever-growing social stigma. These dramas have also gone on to single out women as the root cause of the infertility even though there is no scientific evidence to back that claim. Added to this is the fact that because infertility is seen as weakness in men most production refuse to cast men in roles where a man is depicted to be infertile which fuels the superstition that women are the root cause of infertility. The consequences have been catastrophic in that many segments of society Pakistani women in childless marriages are often ostracized, threatened with divorce, or even abused for something that may not even be their fault to begin with. Perhaps the most damaging effect the media has had is in the way it has addressed the matter of treatments.
Over the last few years many new treatments of infertility have been made available in Pakistan. National Hospital in Lahore offers treatments for infertility for both men and women. There is the IVF treatment where an egg is artificially inseminated outside the women’s body and then placed inside the womb. Adding to this the hospital offers both single and double intra uterine insemination (IUI). This is also an artificial method of fertilization in which the sperm is placed inside the woman’s uterus. In the case of double IUI the process is repeated after a 12-hour cycle. The hospital also offers Intracytoplasmic sperm injection for cases where the man’s sperm is unable to attach itself to the womb. The hospital also offers a range of tests dedicated to diagnosing infertility in both male and females. These include the hysterosalpingraphy, a method used to ascertain whether the uterus is capable of accommodating fertilization, semen analysis, which measures sperm count as well the overall health of the sperm and the pesa or tesa tests where sperm is extracted from the male for analysis . Despite these state-of-the-art treatments little to no mention of these is made in the media and these treatments are often shunned based on superstition, superstition which different forms of media have played a vital role in propagating.
Society needs to be made aware of the fact that state-of-the-art remedies such as those offered by National Hospital are present and available. These treatments can go a long way towards remedying the damage that infertility has wrought however, the media needs to play a role in raising awareness about these treatments. Once consumers are educated, they will understand that availing these treatments will not infringe on their religious freedoms. Furthermore, knowing that treatments are available will encourage more and more men to seek treatment for their affliction rather than placing the blame on their partner. Additionally, many couples previously unable to conceive will now be able to do so with the help of these treatments. This in turn will alleviate the social pressures that these couples feel because of the label of a childless marriage.
Infertility is a significant issue the world over and more so in Pakistan’s context. National Hospital has taken significant steps to address this issue by introducing safe treatments that not only treat the effects of infertility but also ensure that the religious values of its patients are not compromised. There is no logical reason to suggest that those suffering from infertility should not avail these treatments.