11 June 2018

Kenya: Both Men and Women Contribute to Infertility

Nairobi — We often think of reproduction as women's work. And rightly so! A mother will tell you it was not her husband who suffered the nausea and aches of pregnancy, the labour contractions, or the soreness of breastfeeding. Indeed women deserve serious credit for the back-breaking work of human reproduction.

When a woman can't get pregnant, she immeditely assumes something is wrong with her. It then follows that she shoulders the brunt of infertility treatment, believing she is responsible for the couples' childlessness. Women also often bear the stigma and guilt associated with infertility, but science tells us that men play a fairly crucial role in conception.

Although male infertility is as common as female infertility, we live in a world where there are more practitioners and technologies focused on treating women than assessing and treating men.

Many people assume that infertility is a mostly a female problem but in reality, the responsibility is almost evenly divided between male and female issues - at about 35-40%. The remaining 20% of cases are either unexplained or a combination of male and female factors. The Nairobi Hospital Fertility Centre can help you determine the cause of your fertility issues and develop a treatment.

Couples should consult with a healthcare provider about fertility if they have had unprotected sex for 1 year without a successful pregnancy. There are a number of basic fertility tests that can be done on the male and female partner to evaluate fertility potential and to determine the most suitable intervention.

For instance, fertility declines with age in both men and women, but the effects of age are much greater in women. In their 30s, women are about half as fertile as they are in their early 20s, and women's chance of conception declines significantly after age 35. Male fertility also declines with age, but much more gradually.

Other female causes of infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids and high blood pressure to mention a few. Some of the causes of infertility amongst men are blocked tubes as a result of sexually transmitted diseases, trauma to the scrotum, erectile dysfunction, post-surgical complications, diabetes and poor sperm quality.

For a couple experiencing the inability to conceive it is important that they seek specialized medical advice as early as possible. The sooner the better and it is also advisable that they do it together. Visit the Gynecology and Family Planning Clinic at the Nairobi Hospital for a medical evaluation. If you are trying for a baby will also benefit from simple lifestyle modifications that include no smoking and losing weight is one is over-weight.

Finally, counsellors advise that even as a couple seek fertility treatment, they should be open to options like adoption. For a child, adoption means growing up in a happy home with parents who love them and provide opportunities to pursue their dreams. For adoptive parents, it's the pride and joy of having a child of their own after years of struggling to start a family. The benefits of adopting a child are significant, and families who decide to adopt often wonder why they didn't start the adoption process sooner.

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