Something very funny happened last Sunday. A woman and her husband came to visit me in Umuahia after service. The woman said she buys Sunday Sun Newspaper just to read my column. Then she accused me of focusing only on men, and writing about them in recent weeks.
I explained that I was writing a sequence on prostate, which is now completed. Surprisingly both of a them had come to see me because of infertility, I told her straight away that, because of her, my next Sunday article on “Doctor Sun” will be on infertility. She had been married for less than a year, and yet to conceive, so she is worried about infertility. I just gave both of them guidelines on how and when to meet, especially during ovulation. I also told her that it was still too early to consult a doctor.
I explained to them that infertility is the inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy after repeated, unprotected intercourse without conception, for at least 18 months. Infertility affect about one in every five couples in Nigeria, according to Prof Wright who was in University of Jos.
Infertility is increasingly common because people are marrying when they are older, due to the fact that they have to finish school, mostly in tertiary institutions. So they have to wait longer before having a child. Nevertheless up to 60 percent of the couples who have not conceived after 18 months of trying eventually will conceive, with or without treatment. The goal of treatment is to reduce the time needed to conceive.
As a woman gets older, she is less likely to have a successful pregnancy. Particularly after age 35, a woman has a limited time to resolve infertility problems before menopause sets in. Major causes of infertility include, problems with sperm, ovulation, the fallopian tubes, cervix as well as unidentified factors. The diagnosis and treatment of these problems require a thorough assessment of both partners.
While a couple is undergoing infertility treatment, one or both partners may experience frustration, emotional stress, feelings of inadequacy and guilt. They also feel isolated and unable to communicate, they may become angry at, or resentful toward each other, family, friends or the doctor.
During each month of treatment, the couple may vacillate between hope and despair. The emotional stress can lead to tearfulness, fatigue, anxiety sleep or eating disorders and an inability to concentrate. In addition, the financial burden and time commitment involved in diagnosis and treatment can cause marital strife.
These problems can be lessened if both partners are involved in and are given information about treatment process regardless of which one has the diagnosed problem. Knowing what the chances of success are, as well as realizing that treatment may not be successful and cannot continue indefinitely, can help a couple cope with the stress. Information about when to end treatment, when to seek a second opinion, and when to consider adoption is also helpful.
Counseling and psychological support can help. Always be medically guided.
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