The myth of infertility being a problem associated only with women has since been broken, as studies have revealed that men also share a part of the burden of infertility in marriages.
In the view of the Chief Medical Director, Maitama Hospital, Abuja, Dr Francis Alu, “Although the woman is always looked at as the culprit with little or no sympathy and/or patience from others, it must be stated that the man equally contributes to infertility hence infertility is regarded as a disease of the couple.
Alu, who is also consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist remarked that the single most important factor in infertility is the age of the female. “Age is not a significant factor in males. This is however, different in females. The chances of a couple achieving pregnancy in any given month is about 25 percent in young people and 15 percentat the age of 40 and less than 5 percentafter that. Fertility declines substantially after age 35 in a woman such that a woman has only half the chance of becoming pregnant than she did at the age 25. It drops rapidly after 40 and pregnancy is rare for the first time after age 45. Miscarriage is also common due to abnormal embryos with increasing age.
Giving a ray of hope for couples seeking to get pregnant, he said the advent of the ground breaking medical procedure of Invitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment has however given hope of a better way to manage infertility.
Alu however cautioned that, “ IVF is not just a solution, but there certain things you must bear in mind before you go for IVF. The cost is very high and it is very stressful and very frustrating, there is no guarantee of success. The success rate is about 20 to 25 percent, people who require this treatment are older people because the embryos are usually abnormal so miscarriages are quit common so even though you can achieve pregnancy, it is the responsibility of IVF doctor to explain these things to the patients so they will be well prepared.
He said IVF treatment has helped many women who ordinarily as a result of tubal damage can not get pregnant. Alu further said in the past there were just very few but quite a number of people are now coming out in specialisation in such area. In Abuja alone we have abut five centers , but now they are over 20. “It is a very, very challenging area and is very lucrative area too and it is rewarding if you get the result you tend to be happy so people are also going into it, but as I said the only draw back is the cost how many people can afford the treatment, the second draw back is there is usually no guarantee of success that’s the truth unless the person is younger.
He hinted that government is contemplating an intervention measure that would substantially accommodate couples. As a result of the cost involved government has not really gone into the issue of assisted reproduction techniques but they have been called by surgeons, gynaecologists and the Nigerian Red Cross that they should at least pick up one or two teaching hospitals, to subsidise this treatment.
However in Abuja , the National Hospital has taken a bold step. There is now an Assisted Reproductive Technology Unit in National Hospital but apart from that I think Benin is trying to have an advanced technique.
And people are saying that government should subsidise it to accommodate those who do not have fund to patronise the various hospitals that have it for now.