At a young age of 22, when I got married, I would often get irritated whenever people questioned me on starting a family so early! Little did I know, what God had for me, Joan narrates. After 5 years of marriage, trying for a baby for 3 years, 2 spontaneous ectopic pregnancies, 2 failed IVFs and 1 cancelled FET, she almost gave up on bearing children! This is a story that you will hear from many other women who have tried conceiving in vain, rarely will you hear the same from men. What makes matters worse is the social stigma. All sorts of names [mugumba], the disrespect and the hate you get from your in-laws, ooh!

Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant despite having carefully timed unprotected sex for one year or 6 months after 35 years. If you are younger than 35 years, your health care provider may diagnose infertility after 12 months of trying to conceive, (trying to conceive is defined as having regular, unprotected sex), but if you are 35 years or older, your provider may diagnose infertility after six months of regular, unprotected sex.

There are 3 types of infertility;

Primary infertility; where one has never been pregnant and can’t conceive after 1 year or 6 months if they are older than 35 years of regular unprotected sex.

Secondary infertility; where one can’t get pregnant again after having at least one successful pregnancy.

Unexplained pregnancy; where all the fertility tests have not found a reason why a person or a couple is unable to get pregnant.

The first sign of infertility is not being able to conceive after 6-12 months of regular unprotected sex. Others include; Pelvic or abdominal pain, irregular or no periods and issues with ejaculation.

There are many causes of infertility and sometimes there isn’t a simple answer as to why you are not getting pregnant. Most studies show that;

  • 33% of infertility involves the partner with uterus and ovaries issues
  • 33% of infertility involves the partner with penis and testicles issues
  • 33% of infertility involves both partners or is unexplained

However, some couples may have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Risk factors for infertility include;

  • Age, particularly being in your late 30s or 40s for women and after 40 for men.
  • Eating disorders including Aneroxia nervosa and bulimia.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to environmental toxins such as chemicals, lead and pesticides.
  • Over exercising
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Smoking and using tobacco products
  • Substance abuse
  • Being obese or being underweight
  • Chronic conditions and diseases.

Measures to prevent infertility include;

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a weight that’s healthy for you.
  • Don’t smoke, misuse drugs or drink alcohol
  • Get treated for STIs
  • Limit exposure to environmental toxins
  • Don’t delay conception until an advanced age
  • Undergo fertility preservation procedures.

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