Reports indicate that Nairobi’s largest public hospital, the Kenyatta National Hospital, has stalled its fertility treatment services citing high numbers of patients. Dr John Ong’ech, the head of Gynecology confirmed to us that indeed the number of persons seeking fertility treatment to enable themselves have children has ballooned to unmanageable proportions.
In the wake of these new developments, there is a surging feeling among Nairobians that either men are losing ‘ammunition’, or women’s eggs are getting depleted faster than ever… or both. However, Dr Ong’ech sought to allay fears that a wave of infertility is sweeping through the city. “I don’t think people should be gravely worried. It is only now that science is advanced and awareness on infertility is high, that people are coming out to confront the reality,” says Ong’ech.
The doctor pointed out that while fertility rate is still high, infertility remains a big problem. Gynecologists, he added, deal with cancer and infertility more than any other reproductive health problem. “The main problem we encounter while treating infertility patients is tubal blockage,” says Ong’ech. “This is usually the result of sexually transmitted diseases – chlamydia in particular. It is the leading cause of tubal blockage.” Ong’ech commented that young people today take sex so casually that they forget to protect themselves against STIs. He further says that despite the ‘development’ in society, reckless behaviour continues to be the norm.
Casual sex has made the use of emergency pills common. Ong’ech says that wrongful use of e-pills results to hormonal imbalance, which can ultimately lead to infertility. There is also some chance, he says, that hormone-based family planning methods could be interfering with women’s fertility.Still, there are other factors that contribute to infertility. Of these, Ong’ech picks one he thinks should be highlighted to today’s generation.
“Careers have driven women and men to seek for children later on in life,” he says. “This, however, has led to many couples struggling for a child since the probability of getting a child reduces incredibly with time. Apart from that, chances of giving birth to a child with defects increases with age.” He advises that the prime age for women to have children is between 24 and 29 years. Outside that bracket, there are incredible challenges; primary of which is decreased fertility levels beyond 29 years.