Prateek Makwana is a consultant, embryologist, and fertility specialist;, ‘He makes babies in the lab.’ He started as a doctor, did MBBS, and always aspired to get into IVF, so he skipped on the idea of becoming a Gynaecologist and pursued his Master’s in Embryology to become a Consultant Embryologist. Prateek Makwana is also an influencer who took onto Instagram to spread awareness about fertility and sexual health.
ICY Tales is in conversation with Dr. Prateek Makwana knowing his journey.
Q. Sex and Sexual Health is a hush-hush affair; what drove you to speak more about this topic?
Prateek Makwana: Honestly speaking, I have wanted to talk about it since my MBBS days, as I was always inclined towards reproductive awareness and fertility. I did not know what route to go down; initially, I thought of doing Youtube, but that did not happen, so I picked the Instagram route.
In my practice, when I started, even during my internships, I saw patients who, apart from their ailment, had concerns relating to most basic information, which one might feel that they know about it because they have studied it. It’s something very common, but in reality, it is not. Hence I thought that reproductive awareness was very lacking, and that’s the only reason I started talking about sex education and sexual health.
Q. How important is it to start proper sex education in our education system? According to you, what is the ideal age to start the talk about?
Prateek Makwana: I am sure on this topic everyone has a different view, but I feel there are two impact points right now; one is the school, and the other one is at home, so those are the two points I feel sex education has to be implemented from very early on. Because you cannot roll out everything at once, these are the domains where one needs to build up, so one has to roll it out when one feels the child is ready.
In my opinion, I would suggest 4th or 5th grade in schools would be ideal, but back home, you need to start it early because you need to teach your children about the good touch and bad touch too. In present-day scenarios, the concept of good and bad touch needs to be developed very early in children’s minds. This rolling out of information must also happen in planned stages, so everyone is happy about it.
Also, it is important because what all we are lacking right now is what we usually try to compensate for by learning from friends, and when we talk to friends about sex education, there is only one point, i.e., pornography which is not the right way, to learn about it as it speaks exactly opposite of the right way.
The importance of sex education is not only about children. To pass the information to children, parents must also first learn about it. Because the internet has become an everyday necessity, the chances of children getting exposed to sexual content are high whether the parents want them to know. So rather than leaving them on their own to have information from multiple wrong sources, it is better they get the correct information from the parents themselves.
Q. Self-pleasures can be addictive. How do you recommend practicing control?
Prateek Makwana: The whole idea of ‘self-pleasure’ being wrong is wrong in itself because there is no harm in that; it is the safest form of sex one can have. The problem starts when people start watching porn often; they start developing notions or certain ideas about sex and expect their partner to do the same thing. People mostly don’t realize that porn is nothing more than a well-shot and scripted movie, just like watching entertainment shows on television.
In addition to this, it also puts impressionable minds in a position that to look sexy or reach such a standard, they must look a certain way, have a certain kind of body, or even a particular size which is not true, but then the insecurity which develops drives people to do unprecedented stuff and fall prey to various kinds of marketing gimmicks. People will access porn no matter what, but the catch is doing it and knowing what one is getting into; if one is well aware and is watching for pleasure or a drive of imagination, that is fine, but to expect that from the very problematic partner.
Q. How is the lifestyle affecting fertility these days?
Prateek Makwana: Speaking from a global perspective right now, the problem is that fertility has been on a constant decline for the past ten years and has been declining very rapidly. The decline is more than 30 percent and is still going down. Here lifestyle is one factor; additionally, people are more stressed they take poor care of their bodies, so diet also plays an inevitable role. Moreover, alcohol and smoking also impact the issue.
All of this has become a vicious cycle as people are stressed and indulge in these practices. The current hustle culture adds to the issue as people sideline their health and habits, focusing on being more successful. Apart from this, the air quality and environment also are key factors. We certainly cannot make people stop it but at least when you are doing it, do it in moderation or in an amount where you don’t harm yourself. The ideal way to stop is in totality, but we all know nobody will pick it up if one says it.
Q.As, an embryologist, is said to create life in their hands, what is that you feel about this, and why did you choose a specialization in this?
Prateek Makwana: I was always inclined towards the issue of infertility, and I was exposed to this topic since my childhood as my mother is a gynecologist, and my father is a fertility specialist. My parents never forced it onto me, but we were always talking about the patient or research, which was always very intriguing for me. So when I started my medical studies, I realized I was very passionate about it, and I took it up. It is indeed an inexplicable feeling when people trying to be parents haven’t been able to; come to you seeking help and treatment.
They hope the treatment will succeed, and seeing that hope pushes you to work for them because it is very surreal when they get their baby. The downside is you also see the failure that motivates you to work hard for the next cycle of the patient. This process goes a long way; it is not just about making a baby in the lab. It is also about the happiness and joy of the patient.
Q. Where does the LGBTQ+ community stands today when it comes to awareness regarding sexual health?
Prateek Makwana: I feel for the longest time, there was very less awareness because people were not just talking about it. With time, the acceptance has increased; I am not saying it’s what it should be, but the scope has increased, and the laws have become inclusive to some extent. When discussing sexual health is a big problem because HIV remains still at large, and unprotected sexual indulgence is a major contributing factor.
So we need more wide-reaching sex education within the community, which should be a continuous process. But I am happy that we are ahead of what we used to be five to ten years back when it was absolutely difficult to come out.
Q. What are the basics of good sexual health?
Prateek Makwana: Sexual health is a very broad concept, it is not only about sex, and some things are very cliched, like having a good diet and engaging in physical activities and exercises. In addition to this, there are certain specific activities like maintaining intimate area hygiene. If one has multiple partners, then one must get tested for STIs at least once in six months, and if one is in a monogamous relationship, then one must at least get tested once a year. The crucial aspect of sexual health is learning more about one’s body. Still, that does not include getting insecure about how one looks or whether one’s anatomy fits into the so-called acceptable standards.
Q. Infertility issues and their stereotypes around women, what’s your take on that?
Prateek Makwana: The issue of infertility, if classified as 30 percent of cases, is usually the reason that is unknown even to medical experts; 10 percent has infertility issues with both sexes, while the rest 60 percent is equally divided between men and women. Since women always bear the child, the onus of not being able to bear the child always falls on the women by default; that’s how the concept of infertility among women came, but now the times have changed. Now, when a couple has infertility issues, both partners must undergo mandatory testing.
Speaking of medical research, it has been observed that in the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Karnataka, infertility issues in men are much higher than in women. And globally, third is due to men, one-third is due to women and the rest is unexplained and combined causes. The taboo still exists, but when people come to hospitals, they realize that the issue might not be exclusive to women; it could be either of them or both of them or even the men.
Q. What advice do you have for the current generation who have active sex life about their sexual health?
Prateek Makwana: The good thing is in the present-day context, sex is no longer a taboo but there again comes a word of caution that it should not be taken too casually either. Sex cannot be taken lightly, as it will cause problems at emotional and pathological levels. With the hookup culture prevalent today, one must be cautious about safety, contraception, and protection against STIs; these are basic but mostly overlooked. This should not be the case, so I would say, ‘Have sex but then have Safe Sex!’
It takes determination and a strong passion for evolving into the person one aspires to become. Dr. Prateek Makwana lives his dream, crusades through his passion, and adds value to his society. Normalizing talks and awareness drive around infertility, and sexual health is the need of the hour. Dr.Prateek Makwana roots for the same, living up to his oath as a medical practitioner.