ALTHOUGH NO accurate data exist in the country on the exact number of couples battling infertility but experts are of the opinion that for every couple that can conceive within a year of marriage, four others are making frantic efforts to achieve pregnancy.
Medical Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos and Asaba, Dr Abayomi Ajayi disclosed this at the recent launch of Fertility Awareness Advocate Initiative (FAAI).
Leading other fertility experts and beneficiaries of the invitro fertilisation (IVF) at the event which attracted many couples who came to understand more about the initiative and become partners, Ajayi in his address noted, “The prevalence of infertility in Nigeria is put at between 20 and 25 percent among married couples”.
He noted that not less than 45 percent of consultations in most Gynaecology clinics across the country are infertility related, advising couples not to shy away from seeking immediate help once they are unable to achieve conception within a year of continuous sexual relationship in their marriages.
In her address, Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Professor Folashade Ogunsola of the College of Medicine University of Lagos, called for sustained research into ways of reducing the burden of infertility among couples.
Ogunsola who decried the rate at which the population make snares at couples with infertility challenge and the choice to opt for IVF, noted, “We have come a long way in infertility treatment, and we need to continue to demystify (it) infertility, while also encouraging couples that have benefited from the treatment procedures to come out and share their stories”.
Going down memory lane, Ogunsola recalled how patients in the past visited the Lagios University Teaching Hospital LUTH for treatment options for infertility without success saying, ““It was such a miserable time and I was really moved. We felt that even if we could do the O(Obstetrics), without the G (Gynaecology), it would not be enough. At the infertility clinic (LUTH), the same people were there in year after year; there was no solution”.
She urged beneficiariesof the IVF treatment in the country to be free and open in sharing their success stories to encourage many more who are experiencing agony of childlessness, “and help restore hope that it is possible to carry their bundles of joy with assisted conception and delivery”, she added.
She urged the FAAI group to collaborate with Universities and research institutes in finding ways to reduce the burden and cost of treating infertility in the country.
Also speaking, President of FAAI, Omoz Evborokhai, noted that the decision to found FAAI was borne of out of the desire to ensure continuous awareness, education, enlightenment on the myths, misconception surrounding assisted conception and infertility in the country.
According to Evborokhai, “FAAI also aims at promoting enforcement of regulatory standards in the treatment of infertility in Nigeria and collaboration with organisations with similar objectives”.
He pointed out that many childless couples have been taken advantage of by quacks because of ignorance saying, “We at FAAI believe that people should get to know that there is hope at the end of the tunnel and that they can have a babies through legitimate processes.
“By offering counselling support we let couples on the fertility journey know that others have gone through this same route and achieved successes. We also share our experiences which goes a long way to inspire them”, said Evborokhai.
The President advised childless couples not to patronise baby factories and get into trouble, “rather, seek options in assisted conception which abound in the country and are legitimate by all standards”.
Fertility Support Advocate Initiative, FAAI, is a support group formed to help couples who are yet to have their own children to stay positive and hopeful through the waiting period, having understood that infertility could be tough on couples.
Ajayi later explained that over one thousand, five hundred babies had been delivered in the centre encouraging beneficiaries to be proud of their bundles of joy while giving hope to others who may be going through difficult times.
Vice President of the group, Mrs Francisca Onwudinjo who had her 14year old son through IVF urged families to take pride in getting their heart desire.