Gitanjali Banerjee

My Tryst with Infertility

Gitanjali spent 10 long, painful years of marriage fighting infertility. Having experienced the social taboos around infertility which enhanced the already existing physical, emotional, financial and relationship stress she decided to do something to support such women. She started InfertilityDost, India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge.

I am a regular middle class woman, married at the age of 23, because my parents felt I had reached the marriageable age. After one year of customary honeymoon, it was time to hit the next milestone – motherhood. Thus began 10 long, painful years of fighting infertility. Post 5 miscarriages, 3 molar pregnancies, 1 failed IVF, a brush with ovarian cancer and finally a successful pregnancy on the second IVF attempt- I am here to describe my infertility journey.

Today, I have a little baby to shower my love on and enjoy the journey of motherhood but I 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 me who I am today. It is a very important part of my life and my personality.

It was not easy to speak openly or discuss my personal story which is considered a taboo subject. I had fears – fears of being judged by society. My tryst with infertility over a period of 10 years has convinced me that there are many women out there who suffer in silence and there is an urgent need to reach out to them one must reach out to them and tell them, “You are not alone”. Eventually, with a lot of strength and support, I managed to overcome all my fears and hesitation and started InfertilityDost.

Through this portal we have touched many lives and made a real social impact. With the power of the community we have strengthened and reassured infertile women. We recently collaborated with The Times of India to have open conversations about fertility across India. We are creating an ecosystem for couples with infertility issues to reduce their harassment and to facilitate informed decisions through proper counselling, helping them move towards a happy family.

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.

In India, infertility stops being just a medical problem but gets related to all sorts of questionable and vague ideas like bad karma, woman’s life choices like social drinking, wearing of high heels, more focus on career, negligent wife, indiscipline, religious rituals and so on thereby licensing society to call women by the condescending tag of “banjh” (infertile). Such women are not allowed to participate in happy occasions for fear of bringing upon bring bad luck.

And, just when you start thinking that this doesn’t happen in metros or among educated people, trust me, the situation is worse. There is an eerie silence around this subject. Couples often get taunted and asked intrusive questions. The social taboos around infertility catalyzes in enhancing the already existing physical, emotional, financial and relationship stress. Depression, stress and domestic violence are just some of the outcomes.

InfertilityDost is India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. We facilitate right guidance so that couples can take good decisions and stay away from misleading advertisements and fraud clinics. We answer their queries by connecting them to experts, keep them motivated throughout this tough phase of life, reinforcing their strength and hope, helping them to stand up and fight society’s stereotypes and prejudices, and simply reassuring them that everything is going to be alright.

We need to reach out to millions of women leading a miserable life hidden in the infertility closet. Infertility is a real problem and, marred with social complications. The medical aspect is just a small manageable part of it. The psychological, social and financial aspects are the difficult ones to handle. Innumerable women are pushed to depression, forced out of their husbands’ homes and lose self-esteem.

The more we can talk about it openly, the more we can encourage couples to seek help, the easier will the journey be.

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