By Christy Anyanwu
Monique Bonavita Bueno, an embryologist travels round the world facilitating assisted fertilization. She visited Nigeria recently and precisely she was at Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos where she also gave her expert teaching in assisted reproduction. Lately, she told Sunday Sun about the need for young career women to store their eggs and also reveals her love for Nigeria.
You are an embryologist, what is it all about?
We work with gynecologists to assist their patients with reproductive health issues. We work on the female egg, the sperm and embryo. We discuss the many treatment options for patients and improve their chances of having babies through in-vitro fertilization, eggs retrieval, sperm samples and working with embryos.
What are the indications for storing these things?
If you don’t use your eggs, your body gets rid of them. Whether you like it or not, as you grow older your body is going to get rid of the eggs; why don’t you store them so that they can be of use to you in the future? It is beter than coming to clinic when you are 40 years old and doctors tell you to use donor eggs when you could have preserved your own eggs 10 years ago when you were 30 years.
When you say a woman’s fertility is declining, the major thing that declines is the function of the ovaries. What is the function of the ovaries? It’s the eggs she’s producing. The fertility of the womb might not really be affected that much except she has other underlying medical conditions like fibroids or anything that can obstruct a baby.
That’s why some of our mothers even in advanced age, we hear about them being able to have babies. But the major thing that damages with age is the egg quality. If you are able to preserve your eggs, then you are preserving quite a huge chunk of fertility; every other thing can come ahead. Young people, career people have to consider these options as quickly as possible. You can’t compare the eggs you have at 30 with the ones you’re going to have at 40. It’s not possible.
Why should you bank your egg or sperm?
There are myriads of reasons why lots of people bank eggs and sperm.
Some people with medical conditions such as cancer, going through some treatments that would affect their fertility need to preserve some of the gamete for future use so that they can go for the treatment and still come back to use it.
It also addresses a situation whereby the particular person, male and female, is not ready to use the gamete. For example, we have situations whereby, probably for career reasons or social reasons, we know that a woman’s fertility declines with age and so she has the opportunity at a very young age to bank her egg, that means to store as we bank our money. And when Mr. right comes at the age of 50years, she has banked her egg at 30 years, and can still use her eggs and achieve pregnancy with her own gamete. The same goes for the sperm as well.
Is this your first visit to Nigeria?
This is my second time in Nigeria. I was here in August and I spent one week, and now eight days.
I have been visiting the NORDICA Fertility Centre precisely, to perform trainings on these highly complex procedures and improve their expertise in the art.
What do you think of Nigeria?
This is a nice place. I love the people here. You are very nice and friendly. I really enjoy this country and your way of life. You make yourselves happy. It’s very easy to work with Nigerian people. They are people who are keenly interested in learning and improving themselves.
Would you like to come to Nigeria again?
Why not? I would like to see other cities like Abuja. I learnt it’s a very important city.
How was life growing up in Brazil?
It was nice. We are very similar peoples. We have many things in common like our happiness, food, everything is very similar. For me it’s similar, it’s very easy to visit here without any problem.
Do you eat Nigerian food?
I try. In the north of Brazil, we have very similar food. Spicy foods, almost the same ingredients and condiments you have. I like Africa and Africans in general. I tried pounded yam and fish stew.
What about our dressing?
Yes, I like the way they dress here. I have two Nigerian outfits. I really like them.
Are you married?
I’m still not married.
Suppose a Nigerian man wants you as a wife, how would you feel?
Why not? I can just wake up and fall in love with a Nigerian, why not?
Where would you consider a favorite holiday spot?
In Brazil, we are closer to other American countries. I’m working as a traveler, doing this job all over the world.
I have worked in countries I never thought of visiting during vacations. Places like Jordan, India, the emirates in general, Europe, Nigeria and I must confess Nigeria is a very good place to visit, I didn’t know it before coming. Now, I can say to my family, friends and people generally how good Nigeria is and maybe they should visit too. Forget about countries like US, France and Italy. This country has so many interesting things to show. Honestly, when I visit you I carry with me more information. I bring with me to Brazil always something new.
What was your initial perception of Nigeria?
I never thought of visiting Nigeria. Back in my country, when we talk about Africa, what we think about is South Africa, Kenya, and Angola. The first thing that came to my mind was Angola and South Africa while trying to rate Nigeria. And when I arrived here at the airport, I stayed like five minutes looking at the people running and I saw that it’s different from Brazil.
But Lagos is similar to some parts of the place that I live. It’s very busy and noisy.
People are always working and when I arrived here, I saw how happy people are. I feel energy in Nigerian people.
On your first day in Nigeria, how did you feel?
I said to myself, wow, this is a crazy place, the traffic is crazy, the noise is crazy, but I really enjoyed it.