Experts concerned over falling fertility rates in Karnataka; say lifestyle choices major contributor
A disturbing trend of decline in total fertility rates has come to the fore in Karnataka, as per experts. Calling it a concerning development, the experts said that the country is experiencing a population momentum due to a lower fertility rate caused by lifestyle choices linked to economic affluence.
Higher education and professional careers are prioritised. Recent trends of reduced fertility are attributed to delayed marriages and higher education levels, they said.
Obesity and stress are killers in this regard, they opined.
According to Dr Sangeetha Anand, Senior Consultant- Fertility and IVF, Apollo Fertility Brookefield, "There is a decline in the total fertility rate in Karnataka, reaching as low as 1.7 births per woman in 2020 compared to 3.6 in 1981, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)."
By 2023, this rate has fallen to 1.5, which is a concerning trend. There is an interesting variation between districts.
In Bengaluru, it is 1.7, Udupi has a fertility rate of 1.2, Hassan, Mandya, Chikmagalur are at 1.4, and Kodagu is at 1.5, while Bidar is at 2.7, and Vijayapura is at 3.0, she explained.
The decline in fertility is influenced by modern contraceptive use, delayed marriage, lower semen quality, and advanced maternal age, Dr Sangeetha added.
To maintain a stable population, the reproduction rate should be at least 2.1. One out of six couples faces fertility issues due to lifestyle and career choices.
In Japan, 38 per cent of the population is above the age of 60, and a similar challenge of caring for a large aging population is expected in Bengaluru in the future, she explained.
Women tend to settle for one child as they have crossed their prime age for giving birth by the time they marry and delay childbirth, Dr Sangeetha explained.
"The decline in fertility rates in cities like Bangalore is a significant demographic trend with far-reaching implications. Urbanization, changing lifestyles, and increased access to education and career opportunities have led to a shift in family planning dynamics. Couples are increasingly opting for smaller families due to economic pressures, limited living spaces, and a desire for better quality of life,” Dr Manisha Singh, Senior Consultant - Gynaecologist and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore observed.
This trend poses challenges like an increased burden on healthcare systems, elder care, and a potential labor shortage. Governments and policymakers must address these demographic shifts through family-friendly policies, support for working parents, and healthcare infrastructure improvements to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of cities like Bangalore, Dr Manisha Singh explains.
Dr Santosh Gupta, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility, Koramangala, Bengaluru, explained that infertility is a very common problem that affects almost 15 per cent of couples.
There is an increase in the incidence of infertility. Age is the most important factor. There is a huge change in socio-cultural setup where the age of marriage is shifting. There is a rise in late marriages and delayed parenthood. Women are age-sensitive in terms of fertility, he said.
After 32 years of age, egg reserve will start declining. Mostly this can vary from patient to patient, he says.
Obesity can cause hormonal disturbance and reduce fertility. Sedentary lifestyles, binge-watching television, junk food consumption and disturbed sleep patterns can cause hormonal imbalance in women and can impact male infertility as well, Dr Santosh Gupta explained.
Stress is the biggest killer of modern lifestyles. Stress can cause multiple problems and contribute to infertility. Sometimes due to stress and performance anxiety, couples are not able to have normal sexual activity, he explained.
Dr M. Rajini Consultant Gynecologist CARE Hospitals Banjara Hills, Hyderabad stated that there are several factors that can contribute to a decrease in fertility rates in a population.
Many people are choosing to have children later in life, which can reduce fertility rates as age can affect fertility. The cost of raising children, education, and housing can deter people from having larger families. Pursuing higher education and career advancement may lead to delayed family planning and smaller family sizes, he stated.
Notably, the World Fertility Day is celebrated on November 2 across the world with the goal being to raise awareness around infertility, dispel common misconceptions about the disease.