Preserving fertility in Nigerian women
Recent studies have shown that women contribute about 40 per cent of all infertility causes in childless couples. Other researches indicate that more women now pursue career choices and only settle down for marriage in their late thirties and early forties when their ‘natural’ fertility is on the decline.
Yet another group also make wrong choices such as quack abortions, untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and washing their vaginal parts with soap and other chemicals that have led to the blockage of the fallopian tubes and inability to achieve pregnancy.
To reverse this trend and preserve the fertility of Nigerian women, Dr. Kemi Ailoje, a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility/In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) specialist, has started a new movement on how to preserve fertility in Nigerian women.
Ailoje, who is also the Medical Director (MD)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lifelink Fertility Clinics Ikeja and Ikoyi, Lagos, told journalists at a media presentation of the clinics, in Lagos: “We are one of the premium clinics for women, we pride ourselves for the fact that women deal with women in this clinic and we are very happy to say it is a mother and child clinic and the major core specialty is fertility and when we talk about fertility. We talk about fertility of women; we talk about preserving the fertility of young women and the also helping in the fertility of advanced and aged women.
“We have a profile called Fertilink profile. In this case is a new awareness, it is something that I know when growing up, your parents will tell you ‘do not get pregnant, make sure you are not getting pregnant.’ And when you leave school and get to a certain age and the same people are saying, ‘I want my grandchildren.’
So there has to be a balance for women especially to be able to say, ‘okay, we need to do this, we need to do that.’ So how do we preserve the fertility of young people from age 21 and above? We need to let them know what they need to do.
Do not try going to gynaecologist or go to a fertility specialist who is going to end up giving you medications that would have affect on you in the future. Do not take medications half way in a way that the tubes are blocked in which case when a woman develops a tube blockage from maybe pelvic inflammatory disease or infection.”
Ailoje is also the Founder and CEO of DIVAF (www.divaf.org) and drkemiailoje.org, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which are involved in enhancing access to health and education, championing the rights of women and children especially the girl-child.
Ailoje said when the tubes a blocked, the only other resort is what is called In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
The fertility expert said: “IVF is expensive. It is not a cheap deal, it is not for everyone and the truth of the matter is the circumvent of every woman that is the fertility rate of every woman is naturally 25 per cent and as IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART), it is actually mimicking what your body can do. So your success rate for you would be zero to 100. It is either a woman is pregnant or she is not pregnant but the chance is one in every four.
So most likely for the person goes back to back four IVF maybe in a year they may have a one chance to be pregnant and may be if they did IVF for the first time they maybe pregnant at that first time.”
She also founded Kemi Ailoje Foundation For Women and Children’s Health Education, Empowerment and Rights (KAFOWCHER INITIATIVE), an organization dedicated to advocacy, education and empowerment of women, youth and children especially the less privileged and disadvantaged.
Ailoje told journalists that as part of activities to mark 20 years anniversary of DIVAF (www.divaf.org) and drkemiailoje.org there will be a formal launch for Fertilink Profile, that promises free services on adolescent reproductive health and sexuality education for ages 18 to 25 years. “Fertilink Know your status: 26 – 35 years for young women screenings for fertility profiles seeking possibilities of expanding their families,” she said.
Ailoje said Lifelink Fertility clinics, through the Foundation is making IVF available to those who cannot afford it, to the indigent people. “What we need is a proof that you cannot afford an IVF,” she said.
The reproductive endocrinologist further explained: “So we are saying that the young people need to be given awareness about fertility. What I need to know, what medications can’t I take, what do I need to preserve my fertility. Some young girls do not know it is wrong to wash their vaginal areas with soap and water. They douche, they do all of that, they use lime and chemicals to keep fresh and clean. In all of that fresh and clean, we are losing vaginal pH and acidity.
It is acidity that fight diseases, we try to keep it basic so that it smells fresh when we are with our intimate lovers and friend and husbands but the truth is that you need to know the natural way to keep the flora of the female organ, which in the long run will affect the fertility in the future.
“Some people are also born without organs. You can just imagine dating somebody unprotected for like five years and there is no pregnancy. We can check young people for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is very common. You say, “oh! The girl looks like a boy, has male hormone and everything.” It is not true, they need to be checked, there is an imbalance in their hormones that may affect their fertility in the future they need to speak to a female, they need to speak to people who can help them.
Even if they are speaking to a male, whom do you open up to more? You open up to people you are able to say this is what we are doing and this is what I have been through. You cannot say that 10 per cent of girls may have done abortion before they actually get married, that is not the problem. The problem is how they did it. Who did they do it with, where did they do it and what medications where they given?
“People would have had vaginal discharges and pelvic inflammatory diseases and then we say what they have done right or wrong. The issue is not having the problem the issue is not getting it right to get the solution. So it is about awareness for women and children, things that affect women even at their early childhood into womanhood. We need to understand all of that so that is what basically this is all about.
“Apart from Fertilink been a fertility specialist clinic, it is also an awareness clinic to make women know there is a place you can go, people just walk in here, ‘I want to know my fertility rate? I want to know if I am going to be able to have a baby in the next ten years? You can check anytime of the day and we tell you your fertility rate.
Some people might be young. It is not about being young, some people are just over 40 but they can still naturally get pregnant much more than people who are less than that age. And there are so many other factors. Age is a major factor but there are many other factors like previous infection, previous diseases, family history of fertility, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, body physic, weight and lifestyle can all affect pregnancy.
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