Relevant agencies, couples and families have been called upon to normalize conversations around infertility, stigmatise infertile couples less and offer full support to those experiencing the condition.
The call was made by a gynaecologist, Dr. Isaac Shamaki on the sideline of the 2022 World Infertility Month in Abuja.
World Infertility Awareness Month is celebrated every June to increase awareness regarding numerous infertility issues faced by couples across the globe.
This includes problems related to female and male fertility. During this month, several myths regarding infertility are debunked and a lot of options are brought forward to those who may want to conceive.
The purpose of the month is to improve the lives of millions of people who fail to conceive due to a lack of scientific knowledge.
The month also reveals that many people are facing similar infertility issues and solutions are at hand if the couples don’t give up and continue to try out various options.
According to him, Nigerians who have difficulty in conceiving are too scared to speak about it. Despite societal advancement, though, the topic is still forbidden and culturally misunderstood.
The expert said that infertility in women manifests as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and tubal disease while, in men, it is caused by stress and drug use. He counselled that an unhealthy lifestyle could be a leading cause of infertility in both men and women.
“Tubal diseases, HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as surgeries, can cause infertility. Female causes can also be related to endometriosis and an anovulatory cycle (not ovulating regularly), ovarian cysts and hormonal imbalances, to name a few.
“With regards to women being overweight and struggling to conceive, the scientific reason for this is that fat produces estrogen of its own which tricks the brain into ripening the egg when it is not ready to be ripened,” he said.
Isaac stressed that fat produces estrogen of its own, but estrogen was only supposed to come from the ovary which was why women who were overweight struggled to conceive.
“The egg is being ripened when it is not ready. High levels of estrogen also affect the lining of the uterus which makes it an unfavourable environment for implantation,” he explained.
The expert explained that when high levels of estrogen were present, insulin levels rise, causing increased anovulatory rates, which lead to miscarriages, especially in sub-Saharan Africa which has a higher burden of infertility compared to other regions.
“Thus, we need to treat this as a great public health concern,” he said.
Shamaki encouraged all relevant agencies to educate women, both old and young, about infertility.
“We need the right information to be out there. This is why we need to increase awareness regarding numerous infertility issues faced by couples across the globe. This includes problems related to female and male fertility,” he said.