‘Working with computer on your lap can cause infertility’
waters it. With time, the seed will grow. The quality and quantity of eggs in women diminishes with age, hence women’s age may be a factor for infertility. That’s why it is recommended that women past the age of 35 seek help after one year of unprotected timed, regular intercourse if they don’t get pregnant.
Tests such as know-yourfertility-status profiling can be done even before marriage. Then, both a man and woman can know if they have fertility challenges and if they will need assisted reproduction to help them become parents, instead of just waiting and passing blames. In Nigeria, some men don’t accept they could be the problem; usually, the woman is concluded to be the problem. Couple facing a fertility challenge should go for counselling together because it takes two to tango. Neither a man nor a woman can have a baby alone. A man’s sperm and a woman’s egg must meet, whether physically or in the laboratory, to form an embryo and have a baby.
For approximately one in five infertile couples, the problem lies solely with the male partner. It has been established that one in 20 men have low sperm count. Only about one in 100 have no sperm cell in them. Low sperm is more common than no sperm.
Common causes of infertility in men are medical. Some of them have a chromosomal defect, which is how they were born. Other causes are trauma or injury to the testes, previous surgery such as repair of the hernia, or some other surgery like vasectomy to clip the sperm tube. Also, certain medications such as those for cancer treatment, including radiation, can affect men. Men are also affected by environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, sitting for too long over long distance journeys and wearing of tight pants. Asides the environmental factors, lifestyle also has its effects, such as heavy smoking and alcohol consumption, emotional stress and being overweight. Many of these can be corrected by lifestyle modification.
Fifty per cent of infertility is caused by men and the other 50 per cent by women. In infertility management, we cannot point fingers. As a couple, no one should point fingers. They should bear the burden together. As a couple, you are both on zero point or 100 points together. For some couples, infertility has brought them together because they have gone through a lot together trying to start or enlarge their families.
Low sexual desire, trouble maintaining erection, and low ejaculation are signs that men should watch out for. They need to visit the fertility clinic to know what the issue is and what the implications of these signs are.
Some men claimed they had children in previous marriages but couldn’t have other children, so they blame it on the woman. Someone who had had good sperm production before may not have it anymore if he is exposed to heavy environmental toxins such as lead, staying close to a mast and overheating the testes by sitting for long hours. Working on the laptop (on the lap) for a long time, sauna and steamed bath all make the sperm to become very low. If such men change their lifestyles, they may get a good result.
DT: What are the options for a man who has no sperm cell?
In some men, the reason their semen sample may not contain sperm cells may be due to obstruction of the channel of sperm flow. The treatment option is to take sperm from the testes; just like when water isn’t running, we can take water from the tank. Sometimes, some tanks do have filter, which may determine if we can get water from the tank or not. Taking sperm from the testes is a medical procedure called TESA/ TESE.
Some low or no sperm is caused by obstruction; some are non-obstructive. Some don’t even exist, such that there is no testes that can even form the sperm cell. That is the more reason a couple needs to be checked by a specialist to determine what could be wrong.
DT: Stress is common among couples. Is there anything that can be done about stress so it won’t continue to affect fertility?
Every individual needs to find natural stress reduction techniques. When someone does not have a peaceful sleep at night, the person will wake up stressed in the morning. When a woman is always doing all the house chores every day, she will be stressed; she is the cook, driver, laundry woman, mother, everything. Some things need to be delegated and all she does is supervisory. Stress can be reduced by just planning how the day will be like with the rest of the family. Cook some things over the weekend and store them.
When someone is stressed, he/ she will look older. When we grow older than we should be, longevity is reduced. Some say Africans don’t have a long life span. That is not true. The truth is that the stress here is much. What makes life better in developed societies is that they are more organised with better healthcare and standards of living. Employers must ensure their employees go on vacation: some employees who may want paid leave must be compelled to go on a break. Some go on leave and use it for more hustling. That should not be the case. When they work tirelessly to get money, they may end up spending the same earnings to look after their health in various hospitals.
DT: What is the price range for fertility treatment in Nigeria?
The initial consultation is free. When a doctor has examined the patient and knows what needs to be done, then the doctor will outline treatment plan. ‘How much will I pay?’ is affecting many people and preventing them from seeking help. What is most important is about knowing the fertility status of a couple and preparing for the future. That should be topmost on the list.
I will advise every couple to go for fertility profiling to know their status. If a woman knows that in her family, there is a history of early menopause, she will plan to have children earlier. Health is the right of a human being and it needs planning.
Asides specialist hospitals, there are general hospitals with specialists who are doing good work for free. But some people won’t go there with the thought Some say Africans don’t have a long life span. That is not true. The truth is that the stress here is much. What makes life better in developed societies is that they are more organised with better healthcare and standards of living that they will spend the whole day there. There are also facilities in government hospitals, so a couple need not come here for IVF before they can get help. A regular doctor in the public hospital can advise a woman on her ovulation and simple medications to use, and if it is not working, he/she will refer her to Advanced Reproductive Technology centres like ours.