Does Better Mental Health Make for Better Reproductive Health?
Sparcolife Leads the Way in Holistic Women's Health and Fertility Care through its translational research-based platform
According to the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), almost 10–15% of Indian couples experience complications linked to infertility, and of late, this number is on the rise. Erectile dysfunction, low testosterone levels, and low quality and quantity of sperm in men, and hormonal disorders such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and thyroid dysfunction in women are some of the major causes of infertility. In addition, genetic abnormalities and neurological disorders can affect fertility outcomes in both men and women.
Upon looking deeper into the risk factors for these health conditions , researchers have found that it comes down to multiple behavioural and environmental factors associated with urban lifestyles, such as job-related stress, excess alcohol intake, smoking, irregular diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to vehicular and environmental pollutants.
Furthermore, for a couple that is trying to conceive but has received an infertility diagnosis and is undergoing long-term treatment, the associated impact on mental health and the exacerbation of stress, anxiety, depression, and grief are often overlooked.
Today, while multiple infertility treatments based on medicines, surgical procedures, and assisted conception—which includes intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF)—are available, very few treatment regimens focus on providing relief from environmental stress, tackling mental health problems, or improving lifestyle. Thus, there is a clear unmet need for behavioural and psychological interventions alongside fertility treatments, as an integrated approach.
This is where Sparcolife, a start-up that addresses mental health issues and behavioural aspects accompanying infertility, maternity, women’s health, and sexual wellness, comes into the picture. Sparcolife was founded by R. Vijayagopal and H. S. Pooja, a couple whose first-hand experiences with long-term infertility-related problems made them realise that mental health plays a huge role in reproductive well-being and fertility, and the two need to be addressed in tandem. Through Sparcolife, they wanted to help other couples accept the mental health dimension of the infertility problem, diagnose it correctly, and then provide the right interventions.
To this end, Sparcolife built a digital platform called “Vyli.” "Our platform uses principles of integrated care to detect and assess behavioural aspects and mental health requirements alongside clinical treatment. It then provides interventions-whether regular or emergency-that work," remarks Vijayagopal.
Vyli enables a thorough clinical investigation and assessment of patients seeking fertility treatment. After screening, patients get access to nutritionists, psychologists, and clinicians, and can also opt for therapy, which includes mind-body interventions, psychotherapy, self-care, and expert-care programs.
Vijayagopal adds, "Another key feature of the platform is that it facilitates virtual support groups, in which people suffering from similar conditions, say a group of about 20 people suffering from endometriosis or 30 people suffering from PCOS, can come together to give hope to each other that even those going through the most excruciating part of their journeys can recover with timely intervention."
Sparcolife has already featured as one of the top 25 healthcare companies recognised by the NITI Aayog Atal Innovation Mission and is one of top ten recipients (among 79 start-ups across India, USA, Canada, and Korea) of funding under the Acceleration Initiative for Devices and Diagnostics (AID) programme by RICH. And all this is just at the launch of their product. They plan to go national and then global, before expanding to childcare services as well.
Given their drive, hard work, and research, there is no doubt that what they bring next to the table will be extremely impactful. It is because of initiatives like Sparcolife that one of the most crucial but under-treated factors of infertility or any other disease—mental health—is being brought to the forefront during treatment, to provide a better quality of life for patients everywhere.