dr. abayomi aiyesimoju
Many homes are going through the frustration and
agonies of childlessness, with observers saying the problem of infertility is
fast-becoming a plague in the country.
In Nigeria today and the world at large, the desire of
every couple is to become parents within the first or second year of married
life. Some couples have this dream fulfilled, while there are quite a number of
others who do not. There are also couples who already have one or two children
and want more.
Infertility, according to medical experts is the
inability of a couple to get pregnant after a year or more of trying. The
prevalence of infertility in Nigeria is between 20 and 25 per cent among married
couples. It has been found that female factors are responsible in 40 per cent
of cases; male factors account for 40 per cent; the remaining 20 per cent are
the combination of both.
Experts list the causes of male factor infertility to
include: poor sperm count, poor motility, total absence of sperms and
testicular cancer, while some reasons adduced for female infertility include:
tubal blockage, endometriosis, elevated hormones and lack of ovulation (that
is, when a woman does not produce any eggs).
According to them, many of these factors often lead to
the high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, which is a preventable
condition. Unfortunately, by the time the couple seeks help for their
infertility, the damage has already been done and will require some form of
In many cases, especially in the country, women are
blamed for childlessness in marriages. It is in fact common that men are
absolved of any blame in such circumstances, as a lot of people believe, albeit
ignorantly, that the problem of infertility is exclusive to women. However,
medical research had proven that men and women do share equal blame for
Although experts agreed that the problem of
infertility in men could be genetic (inborn) or could be as a result of illness
or injury, they are also of the opinion that many other factors including the
lifestyle of the individual play major roles.
According to Dr. Abayomi Aiyesimoju, a Lagos-based
Consultant Physician, a lot of factors could be responsible for infertility in
men. Some of these factors, according to him, are preventable. Simple things
like placing laptop on the lap, wearing of tight underpants and constant riding
of bicycle could make a man infertile.” These activities can lead to increase in
the temperature around the testes (the organ responsible for sperm production
in men). One thing that the testes do not like is heat and any activity that
heat up the testes could lead to infertility in men,” he explained.
Speaking further, Dr. Aiyesimoju said the eating of
food from plastics placed in a microwave oven could affect a man’s fertility.
“When you put a plastic in a microwave, the plastics are known to contain
substances that have hormone-like effects and if you keep consuming that every
day, somehow it is going to affect your hormonal system and the essence of the
reproductive function has to do with the right state and function of the
hormones”, he stated. Rather than use plastics, the expert advised men to use
plates made of ceramics, noting that ceramic plates were completely safe.
The main factors that could affect a man’s fertility,
according to the physician, include exposure to pollutants in the environment,
use of herbicides and pesticides, as well as certain drugs used in the
treatment of other ailments. “Unknown to many, ulcer drugs like cimentidine can
affect fertility. Also, aspirin and anti-malarials can reduce sperm count.
Furthermore, radiation treatment and chemotheraphy for cancer patients can
reduce sperm count,” he added.
According to experts, lifestyle problems such as
excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and drugs like marijuana could
also affect a man’s fertility.
Aiyesimoju disclosed further that marijuana could
lower sperm count. Apart from this, he said poor diet and age could reduce a
man’s fertility. He said, “If a man is malnourished, his fertility can be
affected and of course, the older one gets, the less fertile he becomes.”
Another problem he identified that could lead to
infertility in a man was the presence of varicose veins (veins that have become
permanently swollen or enlarged.
He noted that varicose veins in the scrotum can cause
congestion, which may prevent free flow of blood and eventually affect the
supply of nutrients to the male organ.
It is common to find many homes, where couples have
been running from pillar to post in their desperate search for the blessing of
the womb. They move from one worship centre to another or from one herbalist to
another who professes to have a panacea for infertility. Some claim to seek
unorthodox means towards overcoming the challenge. A lot of them doubt the
efficacy of western medicine on the issue of infertility. But a Consultant Obstetrics
and Gyneacology and Managing Director of Bridge Clinic, Lagos, Dr. Richard
Ajayi, said with advancement in medicine, it was now possible for infertile
couples to have their own children through various assisted reproductive
techniques. Such techniques, according to him, include: Ovulation induction and
cycle monitoring, Intrauterine insemination with partner’s sperm (IUI), Donor
Insemination(DI), In Vitro Fertilization and Intracytoplasmic Sperm
He explained that ovulation induction and cycle
monitoring could be used for women with irregular menstrual cycle such that if
ovulation was absent drugs may be administered to stimulate egg production.
“IUI is performed on women with healthy fallopian tubes and it involves the
injection of treated sperm from the husband, partner or donor into the uterus
through the cervix. DI is used for men who have no sperm in their ejaculate”,
he said, adding that: “The most effective treatment for women with absent,
blocked or damaged fallopian tubes is the IVF in which we create a condition to
allow the sperm and the egg to meet as if it is happening inside the woman’s
Also speaking on the issue, another assisted
conception expert who is also the Medical Director of St. Ives Hospital, Lagos,
Dr. Tunde Okewale, however, lamented on the cost of IVF in Nigeria which
according to him was beyond the reach of many infertile couples in the country.
He disclosed that an IVF cycle cost between N800,000 and N1million. While
calling on the government to urgently pay attention to infertility problems,
Okewale said: “Infertility has to be recognised for what it is. If individuals
have heart problem, government sees it as a disease condition; orthopedic
hospitals for people who have broken bones, but government generally tends to
see infertility problem as a personal problem and not as a medical problem.”
Okewale spoke on the negative implication of
infertility, especially on general society, hence the issue should not be
handled with levity. “When a couple is infertile, it goes beyond a personal
problem but a social problem. When couples are infertile, it affects their
families and so many people around them because they go through all sorts of
emotions. Even the marriage is at stake. Other vices such as adultery,
polygamy, illegitimate children and sexually transmitted diseases can result
from there. So, it is a social problem on its own and the responsibility of
government is to tackle social issues. That is why in the UK, the government
lists out some criteria on infertile couples that need IVF and the government
not only pays for it but they pay for three cycles for those people.”
by muda oyeniran...source:tribune.com