Gynaecologists and medical experts have highlighted the reasons behind the increasing infertility rates among Nigerians, during the 2024 Fertility Conference held in Lagos on Saturday.

The annual event, themed “Infertility – Need for Knowledge and Early Intervention,” was organized by the Parah Family Foundation (PFF). Prof. Preye Fiebai, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the University of Port Harcourt, emphasized ignorance and lack of awareness as significant factors contributing to the rise in infertility cases. He pointed out that many Nigerian men are unaware that ejaculation does not necessarily equate to fertility.

Prof. Fiebai’s research indicates that 20-45% of Nigerian women are infertile, but in many cases, infertility in marriages is not due to female factors. His findings reveal that 40% of infertility cases are due to male factors, another 40% to female factors, 15% to combined male and female factors, and 5% remain unexplained.

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He outlined causes of infertility in men, such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, decreased libido, psychogenic issues, endocrinopathies, age, and overweight. For women, he cited cervical factors, uterine issues, diseases of the fallopian tubes, and ovulation problems.

Prof. Kehinde Habeeb Tijani from the University of Lagos added that age, weight, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to radiation, and constant exposure of the testicles to high temperatures are also contributors to infertility.

Dr. Kemi Ailoje, MD of Lifeline Fertility Clinic, and Rev. Tony Akinyemi agreed with the other speakers and proposed various remedies for overcoming infertility. They also advised women over the age of 54 to avoid aspiring for pregnancy due to the associated risks.

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In her welcome address, conference convener Princess Dayo Odukoya described the infertility rates and causes as “alarming.” She stressed the need for ongoing awareness to encourage couples experiencing infertility to seek solutions early in their marriages.

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“The foundation’s primary objective is to share vital information, enlighten and provide the relevant support system for families undergoing fertility challenges in order to eradicate ignorance, misguided myths, and social stigma associated with delayed fertility in our society.

“The choice of this year’s theme, ‘Infertility – Need for Knowledge and Early Intervention,’ is to emphasize the importance of continued awareness and timely action. Delaying can cause further complications, especially in late marriages and among older women.

“The journey to parenthood is lonely and must not be undertaken alone. There is a need for a support system, and that is where Parah Family comes in. The rate of infertility and its causes are alarming and require ongoing education to help couples speak out and seek solutions early in their marriages rather than waiting until later,” she said.

At the end of the conference, the PFF offered two free IVF treatments and one free fertility investigation to three participating couples.