Following revelations that many Nigerians seeking solution to infertility problems are falling into the hands of quacks, a fertility expert has advocated that In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Treatment must be demystified in the country.
To this end, Prof. Oladapo Asiru, medical director, Medical Art Centre (MART), who made the call said most people with infertility problem that get pregnant and bear children through IVF should reveal the background of their story to encourage others with similar problems to access the same care.
IVF, which is a major treatment in infertility, is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is used when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of the baby from this procedure, named, Louise Brown, occurred in 1978.
Speaking further on demystifying IVF, Ashiru who is an experienced endocrinologist and joint pioneer of IVF Research in Nigeria said, “The earlier IVF is demystified in this country, the better it is for the people,” and reasoned that the development will make the procedure a popular and acceptable treatment for infertility.
In addition, he said it will open the door for people to access IVF treatment from genuine and reputable fertility health facilities.
He made the call at a Clinical Presentation on High Incidence/Order of Multiple Pregnancies and Multiple Births in the Last Two Rears in the Medical Arts Centre at LOFUM House, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos State.
According to Ashiru who founded the Medical Arts Centre and runs it with other fertility physicians and embryologists, many people in the country just get pregnant through IVF, but they do not reveal the success story behind the procedure of that conception and successful delivery.
However, he lamented that this problem of secrecy is not limited to infertility alone, adding that even regarding menopause, some women do not want to own up that they have attained menopause. “Whereas, menopause is a normal process of ageing”, said Ashiru..
He lamented that because there is not much awareness about IVF as a treatment option for infertility, people are going to wrong places and are being mistreated. “Some patients receive the worst of quackery,” said Ashiru.
On the successes recorded at the Medical Arts Centre in the area of multiple pregnancies and multiple births between 2009 and 2011, Ashiru said, “We recognise the fact that in 2009 series, we had mainly twin pregnancies while in 2010 series, we had higher number of gestations such as quintuplets. Thus, we reduced the number of embryos transferred in IVF treatment this year 2011.”
Explaining the reason why women seeking IVF treatment at the Medical Arts Centre are not only recording successful pregnancies, but also multiple babies in twins, triplets and even quadruplets, Ashiru said the multiple pregnancies at the centre are due to the effectiveness of the stimulation protocol, the efficiency of the laboratory, especially with Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the high quality of embryos as well as the use of ultrasound guided embryo transfer. “We equally recognise the role of our pre-IVF evaluations such as Hysterosonography, ovarian improvement regime, and the use of immune support are contributing factors to the successes.
Besides, he noted that the quality of the embryos and success rate is due to additional services in the Medical Arts Centre such as the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and blastocyst transfer. PGD is a technique used to identify genetic defects in embryos, created through IVF before pregnancy).
Similarly, the centre has an efficient management team on ground. “Currently, at our centre, the overall pregnancy rate is about 45 per cent in all ages per embryo transfer,” said Ashiru.
Highlighting other reasons why people choose IVF treatment in other countries, he said the procedure is now being done for other reasons. “Some people are now doing IVF because of convenience,” he said.
For instance, a woman who is married to a pilot that is constantly traveling and is away from home may not be able to utilise the ovulation period and the woman can be missing intercourse during ovulation day for a whole year. “So, he just brings his sperm, stores it in the laboratory and when his wife is ovulating, the sperm will be used for her. So, IVF is now done as a programmed thing as well as for elderly patients to eliminate abnormality in their kids,” said Ashiru.