10-30% of couples bear the burden of infertility in Nigeria – Dr Yahaya

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The inability to have children has been a major cause of failed marriages. How does your center help meet these challenges?

To answer your question, I will provide some background. NISA Reproductive Health Center, Kaduna is part of the NISA Group. There is the main NISA Premier Hospital-Hospital, NISA Pharmaceuticals, Cell Genomics Genetic Laboratory all located in Abuja. NISA opened this branch in Kaduna to meet the needs of couples who have not been able to satisfy their need to have a child after years of trying to do so. We recognize the trauma that infertile couples experience and the strain this places on marriage and families. Thus, Nisa’s presence in Kaduna was born out of a desire to provide world-class services at a more convenient location for the northern states and at more affordable rates than what is obtainable in Abuja.

Basically, what services do you render and how affordable are they?

The services rendered here at Kaduna range from proper consultation and advice, investigations and the full range of fertility treatments, from simple treatments like insemination to more complicated treatments like in vitro fertilization also known as IVF. We also offer egg, sperm and embryo freezing. Fertility treatment is relatively expensive all over the world because all the medical and laboratory equipment and consumables are expensive, more so for us who have to procure them in the western world. However, NISA Kaduna is not primarily profit driven and therefore we maintain very reasonable prices for our services. We also run annual programs where we give very generous discounts to give those who need to save up for fertility treatments a chance to take advantage of our services.

Besides questions of affordability, what are the chances of achieving the desired results?

Now, getting results with fertility treatment depends on a number of factors. We consider the age of the couple and I am talking above all about the woman. The older a woman is, the lower her chances of success. Any woman over the age of 35 is considered an elderly woman. We also consider the cause of infertility – female factor, e.g. blocked fallopian tubes, malfunctioning ovaries and eggs, damaged uterus, etc. So you can see that each couple will have a unique success rate unique to their issues. However, generally speaking, expect a 40-45% success rate with each fertility treatment. A couple should therefore keep an open mind that they may have to have treatment more than once if they are unfortunately not successful the first time.

What can you say about the level of attendance?

The level of attendance was quite good. We have clients from all over Kaduna and neighboring states like Zamfara, Katsina, Plateau, Kano and Kebbi. We also had successes – We had triplets, twins and many singleton deliveries. Even with the economic downturn, we continue to register new customers every day. Of course, we welcome even more patronage as the burden of infertility is unfortunately quite high, affecting 10-30% of couples in Nigeria.

What are the medical reasons why most men and women cannot have children alone?

The reasons for infertility can be in the man or in the woman or both. Take man for example. We want to know if he is producing semen, if he is able to ejaculate the semen i.e. get it out and if the semen is of good quantity and quality. When a man ejaculates, that whitish substance you see is called semen. The semen is believed to contain the actual sperm which is the male semen. For some men, semen has no sperm. This may be because the path through which sperm should flow into the semen is blocked. Some men don’t even make sperm at all because there was damage when they were in their mother’s womb or even in childhood. Some men have poor semen quality and quantity.

For the woman, she may have problems with her ovaries and the eggs are not being released to be fertilized by the sperm. Her fallopian tubes may be blocked and the eggs and sperm cannot move. Her uterus can be damaged by surgery or disease and a pregnancy cannot implant there. Sometimes some women are born with these problems due to damage that occurred while they were in their mother’s womb. When a couple visits a fertility center, all of these areas are looked at and then solutions are offered.

What challenges do you face in your role?

The main challenge is that couples do not seek help early. When a man and a woman had regular sex (i.e. about 2-3 times a week) for 1 year without using contraceptives or family planning and they had no pregnancy, they should seek help from a reputable fertility center. We see people arriving so late, sometimes after bad treatment. Sometimes the woman is well over 35. One thing that infertile couples should note is that fertility for a woman is time limited, she has an end point unlike a man. So if a couple is expecting to conceive naturally and the woman is approaching 35, they should change their strategy and go to an appropriate fertility center. Another challenge we face is misinformation about fertility treatment. At NISA, we stand for honesty and transparency. We tell our clients the truth about their situation and the solutions available. It is then up to the customers to make an informed decision on what to do. We see clients who have declined early intervention due to misinformation circulating in the community. Another challenge we face is that some clients cannot afford the type of fertility services they need. We circumvent these challenges by running information campaigns on the radio and advising every customer we meet in detail to stop the spread of misinformation. We also offer discounted services to our less financially dynamic clients.

What are the different categories of fertility treatments that you provide?

Fertility treatment ranges from simple counseling to taking medication to performing procedures. The only way to find out what treatment is needed is to go to a fertility center. The younger a woman is, the better the chances of successful fertility treatment. Every couple’s fertility issue is unique, so don’t be fooled by what worked for another person. Couples should be very careful with traditional medicines and/or with quack healthcare personnel who promise a 100% success rate. Even nature does not give a 100% success rate to pregnancy every month.

I would like to appeal to all couples who have failed to achieve pregnancy after at least a year of trying to visit a reputable fertility center. I would also like to appeal to all women who have been diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes to consider IVF treatment as their first fertility treatment option.

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