Media should break stigmatisation of infertility through education

Accra,- Senator, Doctor Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, a Non- Governmental Organisation, has urged the Media to break the infertility stigma against women through education.

‘‘Fertility is a shared responsibility; it takes a man and a woman to conceive,’’ she said.

She said this during an online Health Media Training on the sidelines of the 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” to raise awareness on infertility, its stigmatisation, ways to prevent it and the empowerment of women.

She said her outfit which sought to break the stigma around infertile women and raised awareness on the prevention of infertility, its prevention and management was to empower them.

She said the media, film and music makers could use their arts, while fashion designers their clothing, to send messages against stigmatisation of infertility to the public.

She said her outfit had helped a woman who had been beaten up by the husband for failing to conceive although he had fertility problem, with a new home and shop to empower her.

Doctor Edem K. Hiadzi, President of Fertility Society of Ghana, speaking on infertility prevention, the link between infertility and infectious diseases and male infertility said, infertility was the failure of couples to achieve pregnancy after a year of unprotected intercourse.

He said infertility in developed countries were caused by factors including endometriosis, anovulation from polycystic ovarian disease, premature ovarian failure (early menopause), cervical and endometrial factors.

“The high level of infertility is due largely to consequences of reproductive tract infections which were commonly from sexually transmitted infections (STDs), post abortal infections and puerperal infection which lead to tubal occulasion and peritubal adhesions which results in blocked tubes,” he said.

According to Dr Hiadzi, 40 per cent of infertility could be attributed to the male factor and female as well, 15 per cent were from both male and female factor, and 5 per cent of the cause were unexplained.

Male infertility in developed countries, he said, was caused by viral infections such as mumps which affected the testis, previous hernia repair which had accidently damaged the vas deferens, varicocoele may lead to low sperm count.

“By contrast, in sub- Saharan Africa, STDs especially gonorrhea and chlamydia accounted for a significant proportion of cases. These infections caused chronic epididymitis and occlusion of the vas deferens leading to oligospermia (low sperm count) and azoospermia (no sperms in semen),’’ he added.

Dr Wanjiru Ndegwa-Njuguna, Gynacologist and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Specialist, Kenya, speaking on fertility management options, said couples should visit a fertility specialist first to be diagnosed before treatment.

She explained that, some couples could be given antibiotics, others could go through sperm treatment and Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) for men, surgery and Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) for women such as artificial insemination, IVF, donations of gametes; sperms and oocytes.

She said the practices were highly controlled by Legislation, Medical Ethics and Codes of Good Practice.

Dr Ndegwa-Njuguna said women were stigmatized because of poor knowledge of fertility and fertility issues, poor management and financial problems, unfavourable health pyramid, and low purchasing power of women who consulted.

She said it was unfair for women to be stigmatized because of infertility, to prevent stigmatisation, education should be provided at all levels, adults and young people should be trained.

He urged the media to also help integrate women and girls and in a knowledge based system to appreciate their bodies.

Mr Samuel Lukhanda, President , Zambia Union Of Journalists, said the media as the fourth estate could fill the gap by highlighting the gaps and exposing the stereotype that had continued to haunt individuals especially women in Africa.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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