Conceptions as defined by James Mawuli Gawu — a medical practitioner is a process by which a human sperm and egg fuse to form a baby in the womb – Mr. Gawu believes that, for any couple to be diagnosed with infertility, they must have been together for at least a year or two.
He also claims that men are responsible for nearly a third of all cases of infertility. Conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and endometriosis — suffered by females — are as likely to cause an inability to conceive or induce miscarriages as is the male problem of low sperm count and largely masculine habits like tobacco smoking and alcoholism. So, then, why do our societies tend to blame women for such challenges with pregnancy when either party could be at fault?
Hawa Muslim has been married for four years and is yet to have a baby, but she tells us her partner has been the greatest blessing she’s had on this journey of life.
“My mother in-law and siblings have also been very supportive,” she reveals.
Hawa says those who matter most are not putting pressure on her because they know it’s only a matter of time, hence she doesn’t permit undue influence from anyone not entitled to an opinion.
“I choose my friends and company and do not accept people with negative vibes around me.”
Hawa tells us she and her husband visit the hospital together all the time and they are both doing well medically — “[pregnancy] has just not happened yet.”
Nafisa Mohammed was married for two years before she conceived. Her husband lives abroad so she says the pressure was not so much because her family was understanding. Nafisa admits the only time she faced a little pressure was when her husband visited and returned to his station without her getting pregnant. Even so, she admits that the utmost pressure was from within herself.
She questioned her own adequacy at times, although her husband was not at all worried and kept reassuring her that pregnancy would come in due course. She feels that most women who face pressure were those living with their husbands, but for someone like herself whose husband is abroad, the pressure was manageable.
“People have no business asking about why you haven’t conceived, anyway,” she opines.
However, she believes that an individual having issues with conception can discuss those concerns with people they trust, insisting that pregnancy will happen only when it’s ready to.
“Go to the hospital together and believe it will occur in its own time,” she encourages.
While there are some couples who haven’t conceived in 20 years and have had to deal with a judgmental society, Rhoda Omari scaled that hurdle within just 3 months of marriage.
“For me, I conceived very early and I didn’t have to face comments about being pregnant out of wedlock because the people around me were too supportive to harbour such suspicions.”
Rhoda believes, though, that people have no idea why pregnancy delays in a particular couple and are thus especially quick to assume it is the fault of the woman.
“Women are socially conditioned to accept shame so they take responsibility for being the reason why the couple cannot conceive.”
It’s why women are quick to go thanking God for giving them a child when the problem probably lay elsewhere.
Gawu, named at the outset, attributes conception to a combination of biological and environmental factors that could be related to either the male or the female in the relationship. Gawu disclosed that he has dealt with situations where the women kept testing and retesting, with the husbands unwilling to even think that the problem might lie with them.
“There are situations where men come alone to test themselves without their wives, just so they don’t upset the women if the results favour them. On the other hand, when the results don’t go the men’s way, their wives often never get to know.”
According to James, some women — more out of desperation than mischief — go to the extent of getting the sperm of their unwilling husbands for testing although it is very unethical, which is why “we don’t work with such samples.”
Gawu noted that most women who have not been able to conceive suffer from depression and other ailments because of societal pressure. So many of these women have to go through supportive counseling and psychotherapy to help them adjust. However, he explains that, although the problem looks like a bigger burden on women, most men also suffer depression, rejection and an eroded sense of manliness as a result.
Gawu advised that individuals must learn to respect boundaries and the right of autonomy and self-determination by others, cautioning that questions like “when am I seeing my nephews/nieces/grandchildren?” could be potentially harmful and even trigger suicidal thoughts in the long run if they persist.
If you have a relationship with people, you can talk to them about recommendations but, if you don’t, just stay away. Children are not necessarily the reason why people get married — companionship is a more popular desire — so let’s allow married ones struggling with conception to manage their own issues in peace and quiet.
While waiting and doing the necessary checks to improve chances of conception, Hawa — one of those mentioned earlier — suggests that there is a need for a couple to build a personal relationship with their Creator.
“It can be tiring and stressful so you need a support system, especially one greater than what limited help humans can provide.”
Hawa also advises that, “while you wait for your babies to come, never abuse your system with drugs.
“Don’t let the non-arrival affect your life; live your best life.”
Rhoda believes that couples need planning, as some of them have timelines they work with, hence individuals who have no personal relationships with those concerned should just mind their business.
“People should be sensitive enough and respect the couple’s privacy,” she argues.
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