One in every four consultations from women during the year was for sexual and reproductive health
Rare concerns like sexsomnia, anorgasmia were among the most-discussed topics among young Indians
India, February 11, 2021: Online consultations made access to medical care easy and affordable during the pandemic. This, in turn, helped in providing effective care for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), about which many were hesitant to talk openly. According to its latest insights, Practo registered 4000+ queries related to SRH every hour in 2020 – an increase from 1000+ queries in 2019.
While in-clinic appointments for SRH concerns went down by 14%, online consultations increased by as much as 184% from the previous year. This is remarkable, given that only a fraction of these concerns were delivered online in the pre-COVID era.
SRH accounted for 15% of all online consultations on Practo last year. Unlike other specialties, women accounted for the majority of the consultations (67%), with one in every four consultations being for SRH concerns.
These findings, as covered under the Practo insights on SRH in 2020, also indicate an increase in queries for rare disorders like sexsomnia and anorgasmia from young Indians. According to experts, health concerns like sexsomnia and anorgasmia are triggered by the rise in stress, sleep deprivation, and other lifestyle changes that happened during the lockdown.
Another observation has been the significant rise in queries coming from Tier 2+ cities, denoting a positive growth in SRH awareness. In fact, online consultations from non-metro cities grew by 607% in 2020.
Other trends highlighted in the latest Practo insights include:
- Young Indians (21-30 years) accounted for 62% of all online SRH consultations, followed by the age groups of 31-40 years (22%), 41-50 years (2%), 51-60 years (6%), and 60 years and above
- Queries asked by different age groups:
- 21-30 years: Pregnancy, irregular periods, erectile dysfunction, PCOD, sexsomnia, and abortion
- 31-40 years: Infertility, anorgasmia, premature ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, menstrual cycle, and late pregnancy
- 40 years and above: Menopause, hypoactive sexual desire, reproductive tissue cancers, sclerosis, and STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
Metros and non-metros
- Metro cities saw a 355% growth in the total number of queries, as compared with a 196% growth in 2019
- 2020 marked an evident rise in the number of queries coming in from Tier 2 cities – 34% of the total number of online consultations for SRH
- Overall, most queries were from metro cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata
- Among the non-metro cities, the majority of the queries came from Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Kanpur, Coimbatore, Vijayawada, and Mohali
- 55% of all SRH online consultations took place between 6 pm and 11 pm, indicating a growing trend of consulting online after office hours
- In contrast, 45% of all in-clinic SRH consultations happened between 4 pm and 8 pm
Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo, said “Telemedicine has an important role to play in allowing continued support for sexual and reproductive health during and after the pandemic. When it comes to SRH, the general tendency among Indians is to be more aloof than aware. Proliferation of online consultations has dramatically changed this scenario, giving them a safe and accessible space to clear their doubts and be more informed. We, at Practo, are constantly working towards breaking the barrier of discomfort in discussing sexual health concerns and encouraging people, particularly those in Tier 2+ cities, to seek help anytime, anywhere it’s required.”
Dr Arockia Fernando, Fertility and IVF Consultant, Gynaecologist, Cloudnine Fertility, who also consults on Practo, said, “Covid 19 has changed people’s perspective on telemedicine. While it was mostly used for ultrasound, MRI and CT scan in the past, people have started consulting online more and more for concerns related to gynaecology, infertility, obstetrics, and sexual health since last year. We received many queries related to pregnancy, emergency contraception, post-menopausal problems, and period concerns during the lockdown as people there were restrictions for in-clinic appointments. Awareness about many sexual health problems increased, and many people, even from remote locations, have opened up to their concerns and found solutions by consulting doctors online. As doctors, we are trying our best to create online consultation experiences similar to in-clinic appointments.”
Dr Vinod Chebbi, a Psychosexual and Relationship therapist at Medisex Foundation with over 45 years of experience and also consults on Practo, said, “Sexual health needs were largely unmet in the past due to shame and stigma people attach to it. Patients were embarrassed to be seen going to doctors with sexual problems. With telemedicine’s rise, people have found it an easy and private way to consult doctors for sexual and reproductive health concerns. Teleconsultations have given more power to patients to discuss and get advice at their own pace without being rushed by the doctor to undergo a battery of tests for disorders and symptoms that might not be related to their sexual health issues.”
Dr Anitha R, Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Rainbow Children’s hospital, who also consults on Practo, said, “Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. Many people are embarrassed to talk about sexual dysfunction, so they hesitate to see a doctor. Online platforms allow them to discuss these concerns without inhibitions. To maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health, people need access to accurate information and the safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception method of their choice. They must be informed and empowered to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. And when they decide to have children, women must have access to services that can help them have a fit pregnancy, safe delivery and healthy baby.”