Thalassaemia patients at high risk of infertility

Kathmandu, October 25

Thalassaemia — an inherited blood disorder — is evolving as a major problem for women. Study has shown that chances of infertility remain high among women suffering from thalassaemia.

Alina Bajracharya, a 20-year-old woman from Kapan, Kathmandu, is a thalassaemia patient. She was diagnosed with the disease four months ago. Bajracharya said she had already entered adulthood but was yet to experience her first menstruation.

She has been receiving blood transfusion at Nepal Thalassaemia Society once every two weeks and is under medication. She said she had been visiting gynecologist on a regular basis.

“Doctors have informed me that injecting hormone in body can make some improvement but in my case I might be left with a dysfunctional uterus,” she added.

Similarly, father of Chanda Raut, a 14-year-old thalassaemia patient, was worried that his daughter

might never bear a child. Raut moved to Kathmandu for the treatment of his daughter. “My daughter has turned 14 but she has not reached puberty yet,” added Raut, who is from Sarlahi.

There are 250 thalassaemia patients registered with Nepal Thalassaemia Society who are under medication and receiving blood transfusion on a regular basis. And, around 300 thalassaemia patients are receiving blood transfusion in different hospitals of the country.

“Out of the given number, about 60 per cent female patients have high chances of infertility,” said Dr Ajit Rayamajhi, former director at Kanti Children’s Hospital and a thalassaemia consultant.

“Because of slow or no development of secondary sexual characters such as development of uterus, breast, pubic hair, the chances of infertility increase,” he added.

Delayed puberty and primary or secondary amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) due to iron overload are common complications which can lead to infertility among thalassemia patients. Such patients require frequent blood transfusions.