Though October is over and with it our month-long series on fertility, Dr Wanjiru Ndegwa and I had a few final things to say regarding some of the myths surrounding infertility:
Myth 1 - Contraception causes infertility – while there isn’t a method of contraception that is 100 per cent effective against pregnancy, none of them cause infertility. However as we saw earlier in the series, scarring from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia can result in infertility. Sex without a condom puts you at risk for these infections, even if you are on the pill or using emergency contraception.
Myth 2 – African men are not infertile – this is simply not true. As we saw last week, there are many factors that can lead to male infertility from physical injury to STIs and a low sperm count or sperm that do not swim well.
Myth 3 – Every barren woman had a backstreet abortion. Yes unsafe abortions can lead to infertility but there are many other factors that contribute to infertility in women.
It is worth noting that with our new constitution, you can have a safe abortion if you speak to your medical practitioner and she declares that the pregnancy is harmful to your health, where health is defined as a state of mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease.
If you see your doctor early enough they could even prescribe the abortion pill which allows you to carry out the abortion in the safety and comfort of your own home.
Myth 4 – infertility is a curse – No. Infertility is a biological status, and even then it is not always fixed. You may have some scarring from an infection and find that it can be treated, or your ovaries might need to be kick-started into producing eggs each month. The factors are many and physical, not the result of curses.
If you have been trying to conceive for over a year without success then please see a fertility expert like Dr Wanjiru and get your reproductive system checked out.
It may seem like a long time and a lot of sex, but a year only allows you about 12 to 14 chances to conceive and if you aren’t trying while you are ovulating (when the egg is released), then you miss the window. Keeping track of your period will help you figure out when you ovulate.
Are you young and thinking that you might want kids someday? It is imperative that you take care of your reproductive health. Use condoms and make it a point to find a friendly clinic that you can visit at least once a year for testing.
I once met a guy in his late 30s who had never had unprotected sex and when I asked him why, he said, ‘I am saving it for marriage. I laughed, got it and thought ‘lucky wife!’