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The options available for childless couples

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Adoption: Sociologist Dr Ocharo believes that Kenyans are yet to understand how adoption works. "If the public had this information they would be open to adoption," he says. Adopting a baby is a decision that can be taken by any couple, whether able or unable to conceive. Children can be adopted from children's homes.

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The law however provides for other modes and therefore a couple who are ready to adopt a child may need the services of a law practitioner.

Treatment: Treatment would depend on a couple's exact situation. "We will need to diagnose where the problem is first," says Dr Wanjiru Ndegwa, a fertility expert at Footsteps to fertility center. "Sexually transmitted infections, tube blockages, abnormal or low spermatogenesis, are just a few of the possible problems that may be denying a couple children."

Each of these conditions is specific and as such requires a unique set of treatment regimens.

Surrogacy: When a couple is able to produce reproductive cells [the problem could be elsewhere with morphology or physiology] doctors can extract them and fertilise them inside the test-tube. "The resulting zygote can then be implanted in a different woman's womb, who then carries the pregnancy to term and delivers the baby.

The baby biologically belongs to the sources of the sperm and the egg: not the surrogate mother," says Dr Ndegwa. A surrogate provides her womb for the development of a baby who is not their own.

Egg and sperm donation: According to Dr Ndegwa, if one spouse is not able to produce a gamete, an egg or a sperm, and the other is able to, the couple can then ask for a donation of the missing gamete and have a baby. Eggs and sperms can be donated. The baby won't biologically belong to one spouse. However, Dr Ocharo says, "being a parent is not biological: it is being available in the life of a child."

NB/ depending on the extent of the problem, which varies with every couple, a doctor could advise that a couple consider a combination of the above solutions in different forms and variations.

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