BY REV FR. ANSELM ADODO
WHAT IS INFERTILITY?
A woman is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, she is unable to conceive after a long period of trial. A man is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, he is unable to impregnate a woman.
TYPES OF INFERTILITY
There are two types of infertility. The first type is called primary infertility. This refers to the inability of a woman to conceive at all, or of a man to impregnate a woman. The second type is called secondary infertility. This implies that there was time when the man or woman was fertile but is no longer fertile. A woman may give birth to one or two children and suddenly find herself unable to be pregnant again. This is secondary infertility.
Traditional gynecology is a specialist area that should not be delved into without proper training. Medical doctors trained in the western tradition should join hands with traditional healers so as to find solutions to the problems of our people. Precise diagnosis is important in the area of infertility. Modern laboratory technology has brought a lot of improvement to the diagnosis of sickness, and traditional healers should make use of it. Whenever there is any case of infertility, it is important to find out which one of the couple has complications. The investigation may lead to one of the following cases:
- Where one of the couple is unwell
The woman may be found to be suffering from such illnesses as ovarian cysts or anovulation. The man may have a low sperm count. In this case attention should be focused on the partner concerned. If there is true love and cooperation between them, this should not cause any problem. One should encourage the other and trust in God. Men often find it difficult to accept that something is wrong with them, especially with reference to fertility. Therefore they blame their wives.
- Where both partners are unwell
In this case the woman may have ovarian cysts, while the man has low sperm count. This case is more complicated than the first and requires cooperation and understanding between the couple. In one out of five infertility cases the problem is with both.
- Where no diagnosis can be made
This can be very frustrating. Many are quick to attribute this to witchcraft or evil spirits, since there is no medical reason why they cannot achieve pregnancy. Many go to visit native doctors who will consult oracles to find out the cause of their problem. Most often, they are told that a relative or friend is responsible for their woes. Do not be deceived. Remain steadfast in yourfaith and trust that God does not abandon God’s own people.
CAUSES OF FEMALE INFERTILITY
- Unhealthy lifestyles
I strongly believe that one of the major causes of infertility is the unhealthy life style of the people of today. We have drifted away from nature and we are paying dearly for it. We need to re-examine ourselves very well and look at our way of life, our philosophy of life and our relationship with God, with others, with ourselves and with our environment. We exploit our bodies, as if we are free to treat our bodies as we like. We eat and drink whatever we like. Rather than eating simple and natural foods that will give nourishment and life to the body, we eat precisely those foods that harm our body.
This is (at times) a painful condition in which cells from the uterine lining implant themselves outside the uterus where they bleed during menstruation, leading to ovarian cysts, scarring and adhesions.
This is when ovulation fails to occur or when it is not regular. This could be caused by wrong medication, emotional imbalance or a polycystic ovarian disease called stein-leven-thal syndrome.
- Hormonal Deficiencies
Insufficient production of progesterone, known as short luteal phase, is a common example. This may permit conception but prevent proper implantation and nourishment of a fertilized egg.
This leads to scarring and adhesions of the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.
- Cervical Infection/Blockage
This occurs when polyps or very thick mucus block the cervix and make it impassable.
- Uterine tumors/mal-positioning
An example of uterine tumor is fibroids. Fibroids may not prevent conception, but often leads to miscarriage. Mal-positioning of the uterus also leads to miscarriage.
- Contraceptive pills and abortion
Often I hear infertile women complaining that before they got married they used to take-in very easily, but immediately after their marriage they cannot. What these troubled women do not know is that the contraceptive pills they used to swallow is a factor in their present predicament. Experience has shown me that most infertile women have undergone an abortion at least twice, usually performed by incompetent “doctors”. It should be made known to all our young unmarried daughters that they must never tamper with their wombs. For their own sake and for the sake of the world, they must preserve their fecundity.
CAUSES OF MALE INFERTILITY
Apart from wrong lifestyles, spiritual weakness and other related factors, the following physical defects cause male infertility.
This is an absence of living sperm in the body
This is also called low sperm count or inadequate sperm. Related to this are other factors like motility (sperm swimming ability) and morphology (structure of the sperm cells).
This leads to sperm blockage. A lot of men suffer from one infection or another. The most common of these are syphilis, staphyhococcus and gonorrhea. If these infections are not well treated, they become resistant.
This occurs when varicose veins are grouped together in the scrotum.
- Undescended testicle
This renders the testicle incapable of functioning. Serious accidents affecting the reproduction organs can also lead to infertility.
Traditional medicine is highly effective in treating the sicknesses mentioned above. It is time for doctors trained in the western system of healing to recognize and accept the fact that there are other equally effective methods of healing. Orthodox doctors need to be more humble and open-minded, so that they can work creatively with traditional healers. After all, most of our people now prefer traditional medicine to synthetic drugs. Moreover, many of today’s African orthodox doctors were brought up on traditional medicine, which is part of our heritage. To ignore this rich heritage would be a great tragedy. On the other hand, traditional healers should not claim that they can cure every illness. Orthodox drugs are often very effective in acute illnesses that can kill in a short period of time. Traditional medicine is very effective in chronic illnesses, like diabetes, asthma, cancer, fertility problems and many others.
The reason why traditional medicine failed in some areas is not because of a lack of useful herbs, but because of incorrect diagnosis. For example, whenever a man complains that he is infertile, many traditional healers do not bother to find out precisely what is wrong. In many cases they simply administer herbal remedies for impotence. But impotence does not make a man infertile. It only means that he has difficulty with penile erection. If the man’s real problem is low sperm count, then the impotence medicine will not solve his problem.
The following diagnostic tests will help to know exactly what the problem is: For the male, the most common tests are: semenanalysis, testicular biopsy and VDRL to check for infection. Most often the test recommended for the female is the pelvic scan, to determine if the ovaries are of normal configuration and if there are uterine tumors. Besides the pelvic scan, perhaps the commonest test for women is the keeping of a basal temperature chart. This involves making a daily record of one’s temperature immediately upon waking. Ovulation is preceded by a slight rise in temperature. Though rather imprecise, keeping track of temperature fluctuations helps determine if and when ovulation is occurring. A woman may also be required to undergo hormonal analysis to determine for hormonal levels.
NATURE CURES FOR INFERTILITY
The principles are:
- The more water you drink, the better for you.
- The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better for you.
- The more natural your diet, the better for you.
Learn to drink a least four glasses of water first thing on rising daily. This is extremely important for infertile couples. If you cannot have your supper before 7.00 p.m. simply forget about it, and take plenty of water. Make sure you take not less than five cups of water daily. Men who suffer from low sperm count should avoid alcohol and sugar. They should take plenty of lime, lemon and honey. Women should avoid sugar and all sugar products like ice cream, minerals or glucose. Remember that a ball of orange is better than a bottle of coca-cola drink