I was having a heated conversation with a man who has an unfortunate mindset about women and infertility issues, both subject matters which are important to me. Anyways, I think that is partly responsible for the fact that he is unmarried, even in his early forties, and has no baby mama either.
What was our discussion about? You guessed right; infertility and men’s reaction to it. No, make that our society’s general reaction it. You know that legendary tendency to infer that it has to be the woman’s fault, in any instance of infertility. In his words, “Nothing can be done to change it.”
I was hurt by that statement that nothing can be done to change it. That was a slap in the face. In his small mind, what goes on here on The Fertile Chick will have no impact on people like him and the society’s perception of infertility. I wasn’t happy that he was telling me about how my work wasn’t important, and even quoting Bible passages at me. I concluded at the end of that discussion that there are some people beyond redemption. But I pray for him that he doesn’t eat the fruit of his lips.
It got me thinking that if he, a forty-something year old man, thinks that our society is beyond changing its perception about infertility, then is a large vacuum to fill but I can’t be bothered with the people who think so, rather, I will pay attention to the upcoming generation, starting with my children, and make them realise these things as the years go back. The urge to have children is instinctive for most humans, having children is NOT the basis of marriage. Companionship is, and lastly both children and marriages are not compulsory to living a fulfilling life.
If this man’s stance is anything to go by, then there are number of women who are carrying burdens that are not necessarily their own, because a man will hide under the fact that society says, “It’s the woman’s fault” to perpetuate evil.
Whether consciously or not, we know couples where the blame lies squarely with the man, but he won’t budge from his royal manhood pedestal and take a test, so they know what the next line of action is. Sometimes, they live on past glory; just because they have fathered a child in the past is no guarantee of future fertility…and that is the gospel truth.
Let me share the stories of these women, who don’t mind.
One of them is Mimi, who has been married for three years and is still TTC. She had a terrible still birth experience very early this year, when she had her first successful IVF cycle. Before that time, her two previous consecutive IVF cycles had failed.
Her diagnosis is totally male factor infertility, and it took months of pleading, toasting and sweet-talking her man to get him to show up at the clinic. Mind you, he loves his wife, but he just didn’t feel her sense of urgency or her need to get himself tested.
However, the truth was he was scared the doctors would find something…and they did. He had seen all his wife’s investigation reports and the clean bill of health she had been given, and this had made him think that if nothing was wrong with his wife, then something had to be wrong with him. And he didn’t want to find out.
He was a devastated man when he discovered that his semen had only malformed swimmers, and they weren’t even that many. He was shell-shocked and remained zombie-like for a week; doing things by rote and existing.
His doctor wanted to start treatment immediately, but he was feeling too dejected to agree, so a future date was agreed.
In that time, Mimi walked on egg shells around him. A week to the start of his treatment, he said he wanted to start that day, no reason, just a statement, so they headed to the hospital and the whole procedure was explained to the couple. They would have to do IVF+ICSI.
They did the procedure and while it ended in a BFP, it painfully did not result in a baby. And the sad thing is, Mimi’s husband’s swimmers seem to be getting weaker by the day, causing lots of concerns and tears for Mimi.
For Lola, it’s quite painful, because she’s holding the shorter end of the stick. Her husband was already a father before they got married, and she was quite advanced in age, when she got married, so often times, when the subject matter of fertility came up, her husband was often quick to ask her to go and check herself out, as he was fine.
Lola took this matter to heart a lot and, for a while, was depressed, refusing to come to church or anywhere she would meet too many people; pregnant women and babies.
And then she bounced back and faced her catering business squarely. It grew, she began to have multiple events at the weekends and at a time, was solidly booked for months. In the end, she didn’t even have time for all the drama that both her husband and everyone else might have wanted to give her.
But the truth was, her business was the perfect camouflage for the pain she felt. Lola knows that the infertility spotlight is on her because of her age and the fact that, her husband has already proved he can father a child. So, as the years go by, she sees a doctor regarding her heavy menstruation and nothing else, because her husband still won’t budge and won’t accept that, perhaps, all might not be well with him now, even though he had fathered a child in the past.
Lola’s story is quite disheartening but I am praying that God softens both of their hearts. She needs to check out that heavy period and its effect on her fertility, run assessments and make sure she is in great health. Not just the once-in-a-while visits. Then, she can badger him (if need be) into seeing a doctor.
Lola needs to sets the precedents, by showing she’s willing to submit herself to be screened, showing that she really wants the baby.
Meanwhile, if you think, this is just a Nigerian problem, read this quote credited to Dr Vineet Malhotra, Clinical Director, DIYOS Men’s Health Centre, while he was speaking at conference organised this week by DIYOS Men’s Health Centre in collaboration with the American Centre For Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland, USA.
Malhorta said, “In India, women will do anything to get pregnant and men will avoid infertility treatment at any cost. The investigation and treatment of male infertility problems is often not done thoroughly enough, and at times not at all.” Now where does that leave us?
It leaves women in tears. So, even when men agree to fertility treatments, specialised treatments for them are limited, because every doctor wants to treat the woman, as though she has to be the only one with the problem.
“In India, men are going undiagnosed and untreated. Around 50 per cent of male infertility problems are treatable, but unfortunately this is commonly overlooked. This medical myopia results in women undergoing unnecessary IVF procedures; with all the inherent costs and emotional distress they can cause,” said Dr Ashok Agarwal, Director, Department of Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, USA.
Treating the cause of male infertility is cheaper, more successful, and less invasive, and can allow the couple to conceive naturally without having to go through IVF.
Male problems are believed to be either solely or partly responsible in about 40 percent of all infertility cases, with the most common cause of male infertility a varicocele, or swelling of a vein in the scrotum.
Dear husbands of ours, we love you but we need you to work with us.
Food for thought!
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