'Infertility is Curable If...'

THISDAY Newspaper- Godwin Haruna

Most experts define infertility as not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying. Women who are able to get pregnant but then have repeat miscarriages are also said to be infertile. To all these groups of women, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos says help is around them if only they seek it.
Speaking to THISDAY recently on the seventh anniversary of his centre in Lagos, Ajayi says that is why enlightenment campaigns have formed an integral part of the centre’s programmes over the last seven years. He says from responses they get from people whenever they organize the forums, it has become clear that more people are getting the message that infertility in both sexes could be treated to enable the woman attain pregnancy and have her baby. “Now, we can say, compared to the time we started seven years ago, that a good proportion of Nigerians are aware that infertility is curable. People talk about it freely now because of our activities. It is only a medical challenge, it is not a myth and therefore people should be able to talk about it freely. In seeking solution to this medical challenge, they should be careful not to go to the wrong persons or places and that is why we are opening up in other parts of the country,” he says.
Experts contend that infertility treatment can be physically uncomfortable, time-consuming, exhausting, and costly — all without a guarantee of success. The infertility experience for many can range from multiple diagnostic procedures through progressively more aggressive treatment options, all of which impose demands upon the emotional and physical self. It's no wonder that many women experience severe stress, depression or anxiety.
But in all these, Ajayi advises that people seeking help for infertility should do so early.
He contends that contrary to popular belief, the male factor is the most prevalent factor in infertility. “No, infertility is not always a woman's problem. In only about one-third of cases is infertility due to the woman (female factors). In another one third of cases, infertility is due to the man (male factors). The remaining cases are caused by a mixture of male and female factors or by unknown factors,” Ajayi says.
He adds that the number and quality of a man's sperm can be affected by his overall health and lifestyle. Some things, which he adds that may reduce sperm number and/or quality include: alcohol, drugs, environmental toxins, including pesticides and lead, smoking cigarettes, health problems, medicines and radiation treatment. For women, he says problems with ovulation account for most cases of infertility in women. Without ovulation, he adds, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods. Less common causes of fertility problems in women include blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or physical problems with the uterus.
However, he says what assisted reproduction does is that despite these array of problems in both sexes; they could be assisted to have children. “It’s only in very few people you see the obvious things, but most of the time, you cannot find out why the sperm count is low because some are inherited and some are as a result of things that have happened years ago and there are not reversible things. What we are saying is that in many parts of the world, sperm counts appear to be decreasing and there are so many things responsible. That’s why prevention is really tough, but people should stay healthy and be mindful of the dresses they wear and also their diet,” Ajayi says.
Asked to comment on the challenges of delivering this particular kind of healthcare, Ajayi says there are mainly infrastructural. The other challenges, he adds, could be attitudinal which is related to the drug regimen of the patient. He says some persons are not mindful of time when placed on treatment which is of essence in managing this particular problem. He adds that most of the consumables used in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are imported and invariably, there are subjected to the vagaries of the fluctuating foreign exchange rates.
Be that as it may, Ajayi notes that in seven years of practice in the sector in Nigeria, the centre has recorded almost 500 deliveries using the assisted reproductive technology. “Besides Asaba, we believe that we should go to other parts of the country with time. Of course, you know this is not burger business where you just open shops anywhere; it is knowledge-based and driven by professionals which must be necessarily assembled. You should also understand that we will not lower standards simply because we want to expand and we have agreed that at no point should you compromise standards. Until we are sure that we can do other centres like the standards we have established here, we will not just go and open shop,” he says.
The managing director of Nordica Centre affirms that they would continue to spread awareness among the people as well as giving rooms to less privileged Nigerians to benefit from the IVF procedure. That, he says, can happen through the quarterly random picking of two lucky fellows to benefit from the treatment quarterly if the Asaba outfit is stabilized.
Ajayi’s message for Nigerians with challenges of infertility: “What I need to tell them is that knowledge is the first thing; armed with knowledge about the problem then you will know the proper place to go to. Some people travel abroad for this problem when they do not have to because you are going to a place where your waiting period will be about two years to five years. Instead of making that trip, if we visit us here, you would have been told exactly what to do because IVF is the same everywhere in the world. Whether you like it or not, your success rate depends on your eggs at a certain age, but you see some Nigerians use their eggs without result.
“Age is the most important singular success factor in reproduction whether it is assisted or natural. The age of the woman especially, is important even for a woman getting pregnant in her bedroom; the chances are brighter if she is below 35 years. When she is below 40, her chances become lower; the same thing goes for assisted reproduction. For you to use donor eggs, for Christsake, the earlier, the better.”
Ajayi advises that for a woman above 35 who just married, she could wait for six months before seeking help, but anything below, if there is no natural conception after one year, she should seek help from qualified personnel. He says if after investigations, the tube is blocked for a woman, there is no other thing to do than IVF and if for a man his sperm count is one million, it is IVF. He adds that it is better to start early when the success rate would be higher than wait until 39 or 40 with reduced chances. In his words, the success rate of the procedure at Nordica is “top notch” compared with what obtains in other parts of the world where he has gone to understudy; “I can beat my chest and say, we are doing very well.”


Your comment






News Archive