Leading fertility experts have urged Nigerians to embrace the culture of going to the hospital early to seek help when they have infertility challenges, instead of waiting and praying, noting that late presentation of infertility conditions is a major reason many patients are unable to quickly get the desired results when they eventually seek medical intervention.
The experts, who spoke during a recent public enlightenment programme organised by Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health (AFRH) and themed “Fertility Treatment: Fact not Fiction”, included Dr Faye Iketubosin, immediate past president, AFRH; Dr Adewunmi Adeyemi-Bero, 2nd vice president, AFRH; Dr Adeniyi Adewunmi, head of department, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH); Dr Preye Fiebai, 1st vice president, AFRH; Dr Abayomi Ajayi, managing director, Nordica Fertility Centre; Dr Yemisi Adeyemi- Bero, managing director, Ark Medical Centre and Dr Abiola Idowu, executive secretary, Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) Lagos State.
Speaking at the event, held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Hall Alausa and graced by many couples with fertility challenges, the experts were unanimous in their view that many couples with infertility issues could have been better assisted if they presented early to relevant health professionals who could have been of help to them.
They noted that while early presentation is very important for all health conditions, it is a hugely determining factor for success for most assisted reproduction options, adding that couples diminish their chances of getting good results from assisted reproduction by not seeking help early.
Speaking further at the event, Iketubosin pointed out that age is one of the most important factors that determine the ability of a woman to have a child, adding that the best time to get pregnant and have children for women is between age 20 and 30.
He explained that by the time a woman clocks 35 years, it is already getting late, stating that it has become necessary to start educating girls and women about the need to plan their lives to accommodate bearing of children during their most fertile period.
“We have to realise that age is a factor for fertility, especially for women. We need to start that education. We need to let our girls and women know that they have a finite window of fertility period and should therefore find a way to accommodate their career and child bearing,” Iketubosin said.
He disclosed the major problem infertile couples have is lack of access to proper treatment and lack of access to knowledge about their condition, noting that there have been a lot of myths about infertility in the country.
He also noted that there are many male-factor issues in infertility, noting that there is an increasing incidence of low and no sperm among male couples with infertility issues, saying that when couples have infertility problem, the men should be checked also.
Also speaking at the forum, Dr Fiebai said that studies had shown a worldwide decline in infertility in men and women, adding that it had become imperative to create awareness and educate the general public about In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other fertility treatments.
The AFRH’s 1st vice president said the association was aware of the myriad of wrong information, misconceptions and myths about the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) practice in the Nigerian public space, especially in this age of social media where false and often harmful information is easily spread without fact-finding.
This wrong information, he said, often leads to harmful reproductive and fertility health seeking behaviour among the unsuspecting public, adding that this informed the decision of AFRH to engage the public to change the harmful narratives in the public space.
While reiterating the need for better health education, he noted that the AFRH is committed to educating the public, not just about the association but to also ensure safe, ethical fertility treatment practice in the country.
The fertilty forum, he said, was part of AFRH’s corporate social responsiblity (CSR) and also to promote interest in, and understanding of reproductive medicine and effective management of infertilty in Nigeria.
At the event were journalists, patients, counsellors, support groups and other professionals.