Fertility issues are a reality for so many men and women. Unfortunately, because of the shame associated with fertility, many who are struggling with it don’t talk about it. Even worse, fertility issues are almost always blamed on women, yet the numbers show us that it’s actually pretty even at about 35-40%. The remaining 25% is for unexplained or unclear causes. That being said, most treatments and research tend to focus a lot more on women fertility.

Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying or after six months if a woman is over 35. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. There are many causes for infertility including pelvic inflammatory disease,  blocked fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids and physical problems with the uterus. Some of the causes of infertility amongst men are blocked tubes as a result of erectile dysfunction, poor sperm quality and trauma to the scrotum. Lifestyle also affects fertility such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, poor diet, being overweight or underweight and health problems that affect hormones.

Fertility declines with age in both men and women, but the effects of age are much greater in women. In their 30s, women are about half as fertile as they are in their early 20s, and women’s chance of conception declines significantly after age 35. Male fertility also declines with age, but much more gradually. This of course does not mean that women are more likely to be infertile as the numbers suggest that it is almost even. The national infertility prevalence in Kenya is estimated at around 11.9 per cent.

When it comes to options available to treat infertility, after tests with a gynaecologist and depending on the results, surgery and certain medications can be prescribed. If that isn’t an option, you can pursue surrogacy, a gestational carrier, Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or Assited Reproductive Techology (ART). IUI is an infertility treatment that is often called artificial insemination. In this procedure, the woman is injected with sperm. ART includes various procedures, with the most common being In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF means fertilization outside of the body. Doctors treat the woman with a drug that causes the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once mature, the eggs are removed from the woman and put in a dish in the lab with the man’s sperm for fertilization. After 3 to 5 days, healthy embryos are implanted in the woman’s uterus.

In Kenya, IVF costs Ksh 350,000 to 500,000. This is not cheap and is out of reach for most Kenyans. Unfortunately, health insurance providers do not cover it so it is something you must pay for out of pocket. The IVF process is also not an easy one as it has a chance of failure and is also physically painful, not to mention emotionally draining. There is a Nairobi IVF Centre, where the first babies were delivered in 2006. Since then, about 2000 babies have been successfully delivered.

Loise Wanjohi, a 47 year old teacher from Nairobi, was advised by her doctor to try IVF as she wanted to conceive. She had given up when she learned of the high costs of the treatment. She however, followed up with Minet kenya, her insurance provider and was elated to discover that IVF was covered. She took advantage of the cover and went to get her treatment done in India. The treatment was a success and she is now waiting to have her baby.

This is a happy ending that unfortunately, so many women who would like to have the chance to try are unable to have. Teachers who are registered by TSC are able to access the Teachers’ Minet cover by dialling *865#. Hopefully, more health insurance providers will begin to add IVF and another fertility treatments to their cover as it becomes clear that there is demand for these treatments. It is also encouraging that reproductive health and fertility treatment are being discussed in parliament as a bill has been in discussion for a few years and will hopefully become law soon.


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