An Iranians nightmare…Rising infertility and pollution

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In one of Tehran’s clinics, dozens of in vitro fertilizations are performed every day.

In Iran, infertility rates have skyrocketed in recent years. Today, it is estimated that 3 million couples are unable to conceive.

According to a 2012 study, the infertility rate is 5 to 8% higher than the world average.

Dr Mohammad Reza Sadeghi, an embryologist said "About one hundred men come here each day for a spermogram. This means that 100 couples come here each day, though it doesn't mean that they all need an operation. Some can be treated with drugs."

In a society where parts of the population are deeply socially conservative, infertility can be a taboo subject.

And to complicate matters, religious leaders sometimes give conflicting positions.

At the Avicenna clinic, Mohammed - who wished to remain anonymous - is waiting for his wife to come out of the operating theatre.

Mohammad, a patient at Tehran's Avicenna clinic, said "Some people prefer not to advertise that they received a sperm donation, because family members could say that since the sperm isn't the father's, the child can't inherit, because he or she does not have any blood relation to the family."

There are 60 clinics in Tehran specializing in infertility treatment. But they are out of reach for many.

Even in this public clinic, IVF costs at least 2000 dollars… Five times the average monthly salary in Iran.

Despite this, Avicenna has seen a steady 15 percent annual increase in patients in recent years.

Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundi, the director of the Avicenna clinic, said " Male infertility has increased a lot. The quality of the sperm has dramatically decreased and we are also noticing more cases of premature menopause."

Experts struggle to explain the causes of this phenomenon.

A key factor in the capital seems to be high pollution levels caused by the five million cars plying Tehran’s streets.

Other reasons include poor water treatment facilities, a worsening diet and smog-producing factories.