In the traditional African setting, bearing children was considered part and parcel of life. A man was expected to marry a woman and bear many children to carry on the family name. In the event the couple didn’t have children in the first few months of marriage, family and inlaws would ask what they were waiting for. Should they get to their second wedding anniversary without a baby in tow, the man would get pressured to look for another wife who would be able to bear children.
Quite often, the lack of children was blamed on the infertility of the woman who would then be shunned. It was unheard of for a man to be termed as infertile.
But with the advancement in fertility health, it has become clear that both partners play a part in the siring of children. These advancements have also been useful in identifying why some men are infertile.
Lifestyle changes, illnesses and conditions one has from childhood have been blamed for the increased levels of infertility in men. According to African Woman and Child Feature Services, lifestyle habits like smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day and drinking too much alcohol can reduce not only the sperm count but also the ability of the sperm to move around.
Other lifestyle-related habits include being overweight, taking drugs, depression and emotional stress, contribute.
Too much heat, say from a laptop placed on his lap or from riding motorcycles and driving vehicles where the driver sits on the engine like matatus and lorries, can cause infertility.
More biological factors include blocked tubes, having female chromosomes (XX) instead of male (XY) or an extra X chromosome, anti-sperm antibodies that attack sperm, hormonal imbalances, and premature and retrograde ejaculation.
Mayo Clinic includes invasive surgeries like vasectomies, major abdominal and pelvic surgery, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses like sickle cell, and previous infections in the list of biological factors that can cause infertility in men.
In Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, it was only when Baba Segi’s newest wife was unable to bear him more children that he discovered he was infertile. With the advancement in medicine, men nowadays don’t have to wait for the rude shock that the children they thought they had sired aren’t theirs. Mayo Clinic recommends a trip to the gynaecologist should you fail to conceive after about a year of trying.
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