Fecundity: very much in media these days that I have missed all these years. Having not heard of the word, we women may still be already familiar with what it tries to convey. Fecundity is the ability of a woman to reproduce. It is the number of cycles she could take to conceive for instance. She need not have to carry on with the pregnancy. This reproductive ability was assessed by the shape of a woman’s hips etc., in ancient times. A woman’s childbearing capacity rested on her wide hips among other things. In our times, if I may, average Indian women who were in their twenties in the 90s, had the kind of fecundity that they could conceive in two cycles upon marriage (goes without saying that both the boy and the girl remained chaste until they wedded). This was the standard unwritten BIOLOGICAL norm in my generation. Hyper or Hypo thyroid, Polycystic Ovaries (PCO), Fibroids in Uterus etc., were unheard of. That happened to one in a million. We girls mostly attained puberty from our 12th to 14th year. Our menopause happens between our 48th to 54th years. We have had the longest fertility span. Mostly married in the 90s, from 10 to 12 months upon marriage the first child was born to my generation women depending on the women’s cycles. So that, almost all of us celebrated our first wedding anniversary with our newborn. Now this fecundity is what is waning in Indian women. Fertility has taken a big hit. Invitro Fertilization (IVF) is omniprevalent. India also is global hotspot for surrogacy. In fact now we have since the next level of IVF in our fertility centers. Just like our crops do not show yield without the spray of chemical fertilizer, the present generation women are unable to reproduce without external help. A good majority of India’s children are now conceived on petri dishes. How strange but what a sad truth. Our younger women are having menarche too early by their 9th or 10th year. Fertility runs a very short course is over once they are into their forties. In my mother’s generation, fecundity was one cycle mostly. In our generation we were already working women with a bit of stress as we had to juggle family life with a career. Plus we were the last gen joint family couples. Two cycles of fecundity is understandable. But our work stress was never unmanageable as that of today’s youngsters. We women of ’90s worked for banks or schools. India was not yet the world’s back office. Our software boom was still in the horizon. The IT industry to my knowledge, with its sedentary lifestyle and work culture promotion, did the present generation in. Fertility in India DROPPED big time like never before. The government need not have to be worried about family planning any more or population control. Stress is underscored to be the major contributing factor. Whatever. I have one more thing to say about today’s younger people. In their material pursuits, they don’t take better care of themselves. Those in their 20s sometimes look listless, tired and older to us aunties in our 50s. We are fitter, agile, emotionally mature and competent than our children even if our children could be making loads and tons of USELESS money. Finally what is this money for. When you miss the marriageable age, the reproductive age, earn in lakhs in your twenties that you can spend ten lakhs per cycle at the IVF center, what is the point. There are couples who have spent for at least 3 to 4 cycles which means they had to shell out thirty to forty lakhs to conceive a baby. Of course, even this fertility treatment is commercialized in India that we have now have low cost IVF centers to cater to the lower middle class budget. Their authenticity and reliability could remain unverified. Thirty years back, none of us women thought that we were having a gift and we could be the last generation when a majority of us women could be conceiving naturally without medical assistance. In our generation, our headache was always unwanted pregnancy which kept us on our toes. Change in dietary habits also stated to be a reason for decline in fecundity in women.
PS: This post on fecundity is about women’s ability to reproduce. There is also a male factor responsible that I have not dealt with as it is out of scope of this post.