Debunking Myths and Truths about Infertility and Surrogacy


Infertility is a significant issue in our world today that puts stain on families and individual’s physical and even mental health. However, there are a lot of myths and misconception women and men carry around about infertility.

Some of the common ones include: fertility is a woman’s problem, male sexual prowess equates fertility, age only affects women’s fertility, putting your legs in the air after sex will help you get pregnant, use of contraceptives cause infertility and so on.

The truth about this actually is, “Infertility affects men and women equally” and the fact remains that, “in about 40% of infertile couples, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause”. Also, there can be more than one contributory factors in 25% of cases.

One of these contributing factors is Weight. Too little or too much weight affects fertility in about 12% of cases, thus it is possible for women in this category to achieve fertility by maintaining a healthy weight. Another cause is the Tubal factor, which is the most common cause in females in this part of the world – Nigeria. Tubal damage is mostly caused by untreated or poorly treated Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) which are mostly asymptomatic in women, unsafe abortion or pelvic surgery.

In proven cases of infertility, the available options of management are targeted at the underlying causes identified. These could include lifestyle modification for healthy weight, smoking cessation, discontinuing some contraindicated medications and so on; giving medicines to induce ovulation in the women, appropriate surgeries to break down adhesions (endometriosis), remove fibroids, ovarian drilling (PCOS) in females and correcting epididymal blockage for sperm retrieval in males and so on. Also, Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilization (IVU). Other factors that also inform the option of treatment decided by the individual or couple would include the available treatment options in their locality, affordability and religious beliefs.

Surrogacy – which is also a viable assisted reproductive technology (ART) – according to wikipedia, is an arrangement where a woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to carry and bear a child for another person or couple, who will become the child’s parent(s) after birth. Usually, this arrangement is opted for when pregnancy is medically impossible, or the risks associated with pregnancy are high for the intending mother amongst other personal or medical reasons.

Unfortunately, there is no legal framework for surrogacy in Nigeria, but people are doing it privately. As there are many agencies that offer this service in Nigeria currently.

Surrogacy allows infertile couples to experience the joy of parenthood and it is more likely to be successful. As there are strict selection criteria and most surrogates have had their own healthy children without any complications. It also enables one or both parents to maintain a biological relationship with the child. However, the cost and conditions attached can be prohibitive. There can also be some legal snags, especially if the legal aspects are not properly sorted before the arrangement contract is entered into.

The general steps towards taking the surrogacy option, would be to first identify a centre where surrogacy services are offered and ensure due diligence within the law. All of the centres are online at the click of a button, so avoid short cuts. Also, seeking professional help on time improves the chances of success on any option chosen to conceive and have children – therefore, seek professional help on time!

About Author:
Dr. Halimah Sunmonu is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with speciality in Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, an advocate for Girls and Women education, and founder of Gynehobs.

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