How common is infertility?

Difficulty in conceiving is common, experienced by one in every six couples. This frequency increases with age, especially after the age of 35.


What causes infertility?

Causes of infertility are multiple and sometimes complex. Common causes in Kenya include: blocked tubes, problems with sperm production and transport; and infrequent, or failure to ovulate. Sometimes no cause is found.

How can I prevent myself from becoming infertile?

Some causes of infertility are not preventable. Here are several things you can do to maintain good fertility potential:

  • Avoid sexually transmitted infections (avoid multiple partners, use condoms, get screened and treated promptly if you contract an infection)
  • Maintain a healthy weight by exercise and good diet
  • Stop smoking and use of recreational drugs
  • Beware of rapid decline in fertility after the age of 35

Should I take over the counter drugs to boost my fertility?

No. Fertility drugs should only be taken after a gynecological evaluation. The commonly prescribed clomid tablet is open to abuse, and prolonged use may cause serious risks that may include ovarian cancer. Please talk to your gynecologist before commencing on any fertility drugs.

What tests should I have carried out if I am having problems conceiving?

Your medical evaluation will guide which tests are necessary. Some tests are expensive and should not be done routinely. Initial tests include assessment of sperms and confirmation of ovulation.  In some cases a reproductive hormone profile is recommended. Further testing may involve assessing the fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries and testes.

What treatment options are available?

This will depend on the problems identified. Some couples will benefit from simple lifestyle modifications that include: stopping smoking and use of drugs, or simply losing weight.

Additional interventions include use of fertility drugs to promote ovulation, insemination of sperms into the uterus and advanced reproductive techniques like ‘test-tube babies’ (IVF). A minority of women may benefit from surgery to correct fallopian tube problems. 

Who should I see to address my fertility problems?

Consult your regular Gynecologist first, who may then refer you to a Fertility Specialist.

Take a fertility test today

 

Every so often, an experimental medical technique gets undue hyping prior to going through the rigor of scientific proof of benefit. Medical safety concerns usually arise fairly quickly if early converts get themselves into the mix of unproven therapies. But there is little medical regulators can do to stop do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts when a new fad comes along.

Sub-fertility is the preferred terminology for couples who have difficulties conceiving. A recent survey in Kenya suggested that about 1 in every 4 - 6 Gynecological consultations are related to sub-fertility.

It is pretty common nowadays for people to associate with individual doctors. You commonly hear of ‘my GP’, ‘my gynaecologist’, or ‘my-whatever specialist’. Well, makes a lot of sense. Your regular doctor will remember much about you, meaning that you hardly need to recount much in subsequent visits. Consistency of care becomes a given, and any referrals are a smooth process.

Dear doctor,

I have recently been diagnosed with a gynecological condition that requires minor surgery. A hospital admission has been arranged for 2 days, but I wondered why I wasn’t given the choice of day-care surgery? 

Ongoing advances in gynecological surgery mean that there is less and less need for admitting women in hospitals. So much can be done in out-patient settings compared to times gone by. It means being operated and discharged on the same day, ending up spending less than 24 hours in the hospital. The default should be to have as much care done in day centres, and only reserve hospital admissions for complex procedures that require intense observations over a few days. 

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