Creating life

Ray of hope: Infertility specialists treat people with techniques like IUI, IVF and PGD to help them reproduce

The lowdown

Infertility specialists treat people who are unable to reproduce (men might have low sperm counts or motility or sexual dysfunction, while women might have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, absence of ovulation, problems with the uterus etc). Treatment ranges from simple medication to operative laparoscopy and hysteroscopy (to find the cause of infertility) and surgical interventions if necessary, to allow natural conception for a couple. If these treatments don’t work, assisted reproductive techniques are opted for. They include IUI (intra uterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilisation), IVF-ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), wherein a single sperm is injected into the egg using a micro manipulator, PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis which tests chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo). With growing demand for such services, more and more infertility centres are opening up all over the globe. The best way to make a start is by working in a well-established tertiary care set-up where all services are available to get practical knowledge.

An average workday of a infertility specialist:
8am: Walk into office, check appointment diary for IVF and OT list
8.30am - 1.30pm: Start off with egg retrievals followed by operative procedures like laparoscopy, hysteroscopy etc and end operative work with embryo transfers
1.30pm: Break for lunch
2.00pm - 6.00pm: Receptionist buzzes in first patient. Most of the work is clinical and involves consultations regarding blood reports and ultrasound scans to monitor the growth of eggs and for counselling
6.00pm: Administrative work and go over the lists of procedures lined up for the next day
7pm: Leave office
7.30pm: Spend time with family at home, catch up with friends and watch TV
8.30pm: Dinner
10pm: Spend time answering emails or reading journals on  reproductive medicine

The payoff
Doctors who are entrepreneurs and have their own IVF clinics may earn up to Rs. 2 lakh a month. A specialist in a government hospital can earn about Rs. 50,000 a month; and a specialist in a private hospital may earn about Rs. 1 lakh a month upwards

* Good at handling endoscopic corrective surgical procedures
* Should be interested in continuous reading and learning related to fertility treatment as the subject is advancing rapidly
* Sensitive temperament as breaking the news to a woman that she can’t have children can be the toughest of tasks
* Communication skills to help the couple understand everything about the treatment

Getting there
Take up science at Class 12 and then sit for the All-India Pre-Medical Entrance Exam conducted by the CBSE, or entrance exams of other colleges/universities such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (Aligarh Muslim University), etc for the MBBS course. Then, you need a postgraduate degree in obstetrics and gynaecology and specialise in infertility treatment. Postdoctoral fellowships are also available in India as well abroad. In the UK, Australia and the United States the fellowships take two to three years to complete

Institutes and URLs
* Christian Medical College, Vellore
* University Of Oxford, UK
* Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, USA
* University of Melbourne, Australia
* Monash University, Australia

Pros and cons
* You create life
* You bring hope and happiness to people who can’t have children
n Everyone cannot get pregnant. To break the news to some couples can be a tough task

There are no short cuts to become a successful infertility specialist. The road may be long and tiring but every smile you give makes life beautiful and worth it -- Abha Majumdar, director and head, centre of IVF and human reproduction, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi


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