An In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) expert, Chika Ofoegbuliwe, has urged couples experiencing infertility challenges not to keep quiet but should seek medical help early before it gets more complicated.
Ofoegbuliwe, who is the IVF Coordinator with the George’s Memorial Medical Centre, Lagos, spoke with the Newsmen on the sidelines of a reproductive health seminar in Lagos.
The seminar organised by the medical centre was entitled: “Infertilinfo’’.
Infertility is the inability of a sexually active couple to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex.
IVF, which is one of the treatment options available, is an assisted conception technique where an egg is fertilised with sperm externally in a laboratory.
The embryo (fertilised egg) is then injected into the woman’s uterus after three to five days of fertilisation for incubation.
The factors which may lead to a couple opting for IVF includes, advanced maternal age, blocked tubes, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, low or no sperm count and erection challenges.
Ofoegbuliwe said that many people were going through the challenges of infertility without knowing what to do.
While revealing that two to three of every five couples counselled had issues with infertility, the IVF expert explained that its cause might not be identified without proper medical examination.
The expert said that the longer couples waited, the more complicated the treatment options mighty be.
“Some people desire to have children which they cannot get naturally.
“So, the only option left for them is to seek help through advanced reproductive therapy.
“As a woman grows older, the quality of her eggs drops. There may also be problem with the man’s sperm; it may be too few or there may be no sperm.
” Even, if they decide to have an IVF, the nature and quality of the eggs and sperm determines a good embryo, that has more chances of survival,” she said.
According to the expert, many men don’t bother to go for checkups because they have normal erections during sexual intercourse without knowing that they cannot produce sperm.
“We have also found out that a lot of men have problems. You know a man ejaculates, but sometime it’s just semen without sperm cells.
“There is a high evidence of low sperm count, even for young donors that come here,” she said.
Ofoegbuliwe said that another reason why people don’t seek help early was because of the stigma associated with infertility.
She urged couples with infertility challenges to share their problems with others that have the same problem to know what they were doing about it.
The expert expressed displeasure that many people who successfully had children through IVF don’t disclose how they got help.
She also said that people with success stories could help by telling others how they received help, instead of just saying they prayed.
“By the time our people start to talk about this, many people will find help. They don’t have to say I used IVF.
They may say I went to see my doctor and I prayed before getting this baby.
“There may just be someone in that congregation who needs to hear the couple say, ‘we saw a doctor,” Ofoegbuliwe said.
She explained that one of the factors affecting the success rate of IVF was the age of the eggs.
“For women below 35 years, the success rate is between 40 to 70 per cent. Older women still have the chance, but the younger the better.
“Because for women up to 40 years, the chances of getting pregnant with their eggs is 20 per cent.
” Many older women get more success because their donor eggs come from younger girls, the source of the sperm is good and the condition of their womb is right,” she said.
Commenting on the seminar, Erenayo Arthur, the Public Relations Officer of the centre, said that the seminar was organised to enable people to have access to right information that could help them to take better decisions.
“The first point of treatment is having the right information. Infertility is a disease. It’s not something that will just go away. It needs to be treated,” she said.
One of the participants at the seminar, who didn’t want her identity disclosed, said that she had attempted IVF twice without success.
“My experience with IVF has been very stressful in terms of cost, having to take the drugs at a particular time, scans and other procedures.
`The psychological trauma attached to it is not what one will wish for an enemy.
“I have had two procedures that failed. I’m here today because I want to change my clinic. I want to try another clinic to see if the next one will be successful,” she said.
She called on the government to support couples with infertility challenges by creating facilities where they could access treatment at more affordable rates.
“Having IVF at the best fertility clinic is not less than N2 million,’’ she added.