Infertility is defined as failure to produce offspring in a couple living together for at least a year, and having regular unprotected penetrative sexual intercourse at least twice or thrice weekly. Infertility by definition can only be diagnosed in a couple. An individual hence cannot necessarily be said to be infertile. It is the union, the couple that is infertile.
From the above premise, the following do not qualify as infertility: newly married couples living apart and meeting sporadically or irregularly, or having not been together for up to a year.
WHY IS THE ABOVE EMPHASIS VERY IMPORTANT?
It is so because most times you will be in your clinic and couples just married for only six months stagger in looking for children. Or worse still, only the female visits for evaluation of infertility. These instances do not qualify as infertility cases.
CAUSES OF INFERTILITY
Infertility is broadly classified into Male and Female Infertility. Usually the evaluation for infertility follows a head to toe progression so that no factor could be missed.
There could be many causes in either the male or female partner. But some times, after vigorous and thorough evaluation of the couple, they both turn out physiologically okay. These times problems of physiological incompatibility could be ascribed as the cause of the infertility. Other times, for male infertility, it could be a long time history of mumps infection which occurred when the man was only a
boy which went on to affect his testes. Low sperm count and other abnormalities of semen could be the cause.
Likewise erectile dysfunction which prevents penetrative sexual intercourse. Some sexually transmitted diseases (STD) can also affect sperm production and/ or release.
For the female, the tubes could be blocked from previous STD. The ovaries could be faulty in any way, likewise the womb. Even obesity can be a factor for infertility.
THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR INFERTILITY
This section is what this article is all about. Currently it can be propagated that infertility is completely curable. This being so because of the many wonderful advances in medicine. Gone should be the days when one goes to one prayer house or the other seeking for children. The treatment of infertility starts after proper evaluation for the cause. If any particular cause is found then treatment is zeroed in on it with most times positive outcomes emanating thence. If none is observed, psychological- based management could be all that is required to bring joy to the couple’s doorstep. It could only be a case of wrong sexual practices, where all the doctor needs do is proper education of the couple. And two, three months later, they smile coming to him with news of missed period.
Now, for the more ominous causes of infertility, there are treatments yet! Be it blocked uterine tubes, failure of ovulation ie the monthly ‘laying’ of egg, sperm and/or semen abnormalities, failure of male erection and/or ejaculation, they are currently almost completely all amenable to medical and or surgical treatments.
To mention but a few, currently IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) has been so broadcasted that only a few of the couples coming for infertility clinics have not had previous information about it. Even in Nigeria now it is done by many hospitals scattered all over the country. Though costlier, it is a possible way out for couples with complaints of infertility, especially those with blocked tubes, or even male infertility.
Well, other such advancements have been known. In fact some even involve poking into the man’s testis to grab tissues which can yield a good enough amount of sperm cells for fertilization.
Other newer things also include the issue of Surrogacy, where a woman comes in to carry another woman’s pregnancy. This can be done even for a woman with no womb.
There are so many possibilities for treating a couple’s infertility depending on where the problem is.
Notable also is the option of adoption. This comes in last as
a treatment option for infertility.
Here comes all the sexual education which every young person and adult should be privy to. As STDs can be said to cause infertility, the prevention of these can go a long way in preventing infertility. Preventive measures include abstinence, being faithful to your one faithful partner, correct condom use, and seeking for early and appropriate treatment of STDs. More on STDs will need to come later.
In conclusion, it can now be said that infertility is completely curable medically. It only depends on how far the couple is willing to go to bring that crying tiny human into their home.
Ejike Udeze is a health personnel at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH). Ejike is always in search of new medical discoveries and breakthrough. You can reach him on Facebook with his name “Ejike Udeze.“