Posted by News Express | 19 August 2018 | 1,932 times
To some couples, infertility is a death sentence. To others, it can end if they persevere in seeking medical help. ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE captures the testimony of a 62-year-old woman who gave birth after 38 years of childlessness, even as he highlights some of the causes of infertility and proffers solution.
Many families are disillusioned due to their inability to have a child of their own, which often may not be their fault. Childlessness has made many barren couples to lose their voice. In some cases, science has not helped such couples the same way nature has not been very kind to them. As a result, many such childless marriages have hit the rocks. They would not want to relay their fears concerning infertility.
His voice resonated as he complained to this writer that his marriage was crashing because of infertility his wife, and they have struggled for eight years. The man, who would prefer to remain anonymous due to the stigma attached to infertility in this clime, said that his wife had conducted Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
They have spent heavily on fertility treatment, yet doctors were not certain where the problem was, where they had to go to. They even had IVF, but there was no cry of a child to show for their effort. The more depressing aspect was that the wife was full of anxiety, as most women would, as her clock ticked. She was 36 years old and with fear that she is getting too old. Depression was written all over her. Her supportive husband was losing his energy and emotions to encourage her. His head was blank as he had run out of ideas of who to complain to, and where else to go to for help.
The tension heightened because he was losing the affection he had for his wife, the love of his life. He was drowned in years of bad news after they had undergone years of the medical test.
But while this anonymous couple was battling with infertility for eight years, there was hope for a 62-year-old woman who had suffered infertility for 38 years.
Margaret Davou, a native of Zawan in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State underwent a reproductive technology procedure in Jos, after 38 years of infertility in marriage. She later gave birth to her first child on March 27, 2017, through a Caesarean section at the GynaeVille Specialist Hospital, Jos.
Incidentally, it was not her first trial. She recalled that she had gone through the surgeon’s knife in several occasions, and had undergone different fertility treatments in different hospitals for the fourth time, till her baby-girl was delivered at about 36 weeks.
Her husband, Mr Samson was full of thanksgiving: that their God decided to favour them, wipe away their tears and shame. Now, his wife was encouraging other women to depend on God for the fruit of the womb, while they do the needful in hospitals.
However, Margaret Davou was not left alone in her testimony; the director of the hospital, Dr Kenneth Egwuda, was full of ecstasy that Davou’s God was keen to favour, her having attained age 62.
Egwuda noted: “God decided to favour this woman because, based on her age (62) at her first visit to this facility in 2016, many would have doubted the success of the treatment. But because she looks strong and healthy for her age, we decided to take her as our patient. I never worried about her age, but IVF is a game of chance and not 100 per cent certain that you will get pregnant.
“When she got pregnant, it never occurred to me that something fundamental or striking had happened until someone called my attention to it: that, this is the oldest reported woman in Africa to give birth at 62, with assisted reproductive technology and it happened here.”
Infertility among couples
Without a doubt, infertility among couples in Nigeria is growing. Experts fear that 40 to 45 per cent of all consultations in gynaecological clinics are infertility-related. They also say that the two different types of infertility - primary and secondary - are a growing problem in the country.
Primary infertility is when a woman who has never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving, while secondary Infertility is when a mother, who has had one or more pregnancies in the past, is having difficulty conceiving again. They added that infertility is not limited to women alone; that men, too, could be infertile.
While the common causes of infertility in women include lack of regular ovulation (the monthly release of an egg), blockage of the fallopian tubes, age and endometriosis, the most common cause in men is poor quality semen.
However, endometriosis is one of the major factors responsible for infertility in women in the entire world, but an estimated 100,000 Nigerian women are living with the condition.
Nigerian singer Saeon was full of an ugly testimony of how she was battling with endometriosis, cystic ovary and fibroid at a celebration of international women’s day.
Mrs Olivia Chinwendu Nwakudo, a graduate of microbiology, recalled her experience: “I know what I went through. It took 11 years from the onset of my symptoms before I was told the cause of my pains.”
Saeon said she had been going through difficult menstrual cramps, and every year her experience got worse. "Prior to the diagnosis, I hadn’t really heard of or paid attention to endometriosis, and I found myself wishing I had been educated on it, as this knowledge could have helped in earlier diagnosis and my not having to go through the stress of some symptoms I dealt with.”
Conversely, according to Endometriosis.org, there are different signs to the monster. These are stated as follows: “Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus called the ‘endometrium’ is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue.”
Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (that is, usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world.
Endometriosis can start as early as a girl’s first period. Symptoms include painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility, and can impact on general physical, mental, and social well-being.
A general lack of awareness by both women and health care providers delays diagnosis due to a “normalisation” of symptoms.
There is no known cure. And although endometriosis can be treated effectively with drugs, most treatments are not suitable for long-term use due to side-effects.
Surgery (such as conducted by Dr Abayomi of Nordica Centres in Nigeria) can be effective to remove endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, but success rates are dependent on the extent of disease and the surgeon’s skills.
Women have a higher risk of developing endometriosis if their mother and/or sister(s) are also affected.
It is believed that infertility can be treated with therapies such as medication or surgery. These are itemized as follows:
1 Medical treatment for lack of regular ovulation
2 Surgical procedures, such as treatment for endometriosis, and
3 Assisted conception, which may be intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
According to experts, “There are numerous clinics and medical centres in Nigeria that can help couples who are having difficulty conceiving children. The cost for most fertility treatments varies: with IVF treatments costing between N800,000 and N1,000,000.
"While some couples find it easy to get pregnant quickly, it can take longer for others. If you have been unable to conceive after one year of trying, it’s time to consult your doctor or medical provider."
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