Too wired to
growing number of IT professionals is facing infertility and other related
problems caused by their high-stress lives
pacing nervously outside the operation theatre, where his wife is in labour
with their first child. After six years of marriage, this is a trying
time for 35-year-old Harish Gowda and his wife, Mythili, 28. A technical
consultant with an international firm in Bangalore, Gowda says, “The
demands of an it job are very different from any other and sometimes I
don’t see my wife for weeks because of projects or deadlines.”
This meant a practically non-existent sex life and problems in conception.
stress has increased cases of premature ejaculation and erectile
dysfunction, eventually reducing libido in both spouses
Gowdas are part of a growing number of it professionals who face infertility,
low sex- drive and related problems. According to a study conducted by
Dr Kamini Rao of the Bangalore Assisted Conception Centre (bacc), there
were 40 ‘it couples’ a week visiting the centre during 2002-2003.
“One of three couples that see me in a week has at least one partner
working in the it sector, which also includes call centres,” she
is a major reason why infertility is a growing problem. And while most
modern lifestyles are stressful, it professionals work odd hours and lead
relatively sedentary lives, which disrupts the biological clock. “All
these add up to problems like menstrual disturbances, low sperm count
and a dwindling libido,” says Rao.
work according to the time zones of other countries,” says Prakash
Reddy, a 30-year-old software engineer. “So if I am involved in
a project for an American client, I have to work nights for weeks or months.”
His wife, Rohini, a 25-year-old homemaker, is now pregnant for the second
time after a previous miscarriage. “Forget being able to plan conception,
there are times when we cannot talk,” she says. He reasons that
stress, odd hours and a constant deadline pressure have reduced his sex
drive. “I just want to have this child,” says Rohini.
observes that this is a common attitude. “There is no attention
given to correcting their sex life or looking at their options. Most of
them come to me under family ressure to have a child,” she says.
Padmini Prasad, a sexologist and marriage counsellor, says that she has
observed this trend among her clients at the Ramamani Hospital in Bangalore.
In an average week, nearly 40 percent of her clients are from the it sector.
“With their haphazard, rushed lifestyles, they cannot even plan
to have sex during ovulation,” she says. Prasad also finds a high
incidence of non-consummation of marriages, often due to a lack of time
spent together. “I see a lot of cases of premature ejaculation and
erectile dysfunction, eventually reducing libido in both spouses.”
says that if lifestyles were modified, they would not need assisted reproduction,
which is also expensive. “If these couples would start counselling
and improve their sex lives, infertility would not be a problem,”
and Malati Chandra are both software engineers in Bangalore. It took them
over a year to consummate their marriage. “We were working different
shifts and hardly saw one another. And sometimes the stress and pressure
are so high that we’re worn out,” says Mahesh. Malati adds,
“Even if we are home, laptops keep us connected and there are conference
calls in the middle of the night.” They are currently looking at
options of assisted reproduction.
the air-conditioned waiting rooms of high-end fertility clinics, it’s
a common sight to see couples, name tags around their necks, talking over
the phone, working on laptops or, even, trading industry gossip. Almost
as if resorting to these expensive treatments has become an accepted consequence
of their well-paying, high-status jobs. Almost as if it were a part of
Names of the couples
have been changed to protect identities