The first sign that something is wrong soon after a couple decides to have a baby, is when the woman fails to fall pregnant after a few months of trying. Some couples remain hopeful and think nothing about infertility.
I had never thought of the word infertility before I was faced with it. Our inability to become pregnant led to the first of many consultations and test.
The test were performed on both of us and we felt confident about our reproductive abilities. I guess no one wants to think their body is in capable of performing the role it was intended to.
We were relieved to know that neither of us had any reason to stop us from getting pregnant. The results of our test was no comfort when we to fall pregnant.
The thought that I am the reason for our demise never left me and as I spoke to other women facing similar trials I came to learn that women view themselves as the main Cause.
Many ethnicities view infertility as a woman’s sole responsibility and so many marriages have broken down from interference by the man’s family. “They just can’t understand why their son remains married to a infertile woman”.
I witness first hand as a friend struggled to convince her husband to undergo some test to determine the cause of their problems.
In the end, their marriage broke up because he strongly refused to undergo any form of test, claiming he had fathered a child before, so he can’t possibly be impotent.
There lies the perception, that infertility is a female issue and this stems from age old misconceptions that it is a woman’s duty to produce an heir for her husband/Partner. Therefore she’s ultimately to blame for failing to be pregnant.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in its 2014-2016 report finds that amongst other issues, male infertility is the most common reason why British couples seek IVF treatment.
No man wants to believe they are “shooting blank”. And it is a common male locker room banter to hear men claiming they might have secretly fathered a child unknown to him.
On the country, most women I know blame themselves even before any test results. Often excusing their partners as innocent party to this unfortunate event thrust upon them.
Women are their most fierce critics, blaming themselves for putting their career first, being too choosy, as a result their biologists clocked has timed out.
New research such as those conducted by
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston shows that sperm quality markedly decline with age. This make it harder for men to sire children well into old age as well as the possibilities of birth defect if they father kids later in life.
I personally feel the solution or part of the way forward is for men to acknowledge that there is a possibility they might have the problem and be willing to undergo some test.
Men should not assume that because they fathered a child before, that rules them out from having any infertility problems in the future.
Women should also not automatically assume the blame without a clear diagnoses, even then the man should also get tested. They should stop denigrating and being self critical.
Given the heartbreak, invasion of one’s life and mental upheaval one faces, it is important for couples to be supportive of each other regardless of who has the issue. Infertility should not be seen as an arena dedicated solely to women, but rather a shared burden.
Society has a duty to educate everyone that It can be both a male and female issue. And dispel this wrong thinking when it comes to infertility.