KNA Infertility has become a major problem for many married couples and a majority of women have taken this problem as their own, carrying the burden of blame on their shoulders.
According to the Kenya fertility levels, trends, and differentials of 2020, the fertility rate for Kenya was 3.37 children per woman. Women have been perceived to be infertile and they have been branded barren for failing to sire children in marriage.
Infertility is commonly caused by problems in the ejection, low levels, abnormal shape and motility of semen in men. In women, the major causes of infertility are the abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus and the fallopian tubes.
Fifty-two years old Elizabeth Akinyi, a business woman in Migori, narrates how painful it was for her to be called barren. She had to go back to her parents’ home after her two marriages failed because of her inability to sire children.
“I was first married at the age of 15 years and after 10 years, I was not able to have a child. Life became so unbearable and my husband became very hostile,” narrated Akinyi.
She confirms that they did not seek any medical attention but instead took traditional herbs that were given to her by her mother-in-law but they never cured her barrenness.
She says the pressure from her husband’s parents pushed him to marry another woman and she ended up being treated as an outcast.
Akinyi got married to another partner with whom she stayed for another seven years but still could not get a child. She shared her story showing scars on her body revealing the brutality she went through in the hands of her ex-husbands for not being able to give birth.
To her amazement, all her ex-husbands have not been able to get children as well in their new marriages, something that raises eyebrows since she was deemed to be the problem.
Peter Odoyo from Nyatike Sub County recalls how his parents always put pressure on him to get another wife whom he could sire kids with lest he risked dying with nobody to inherit his little wealth.
He recounts visiting the health facility which confirmed that his wife had infertility issues. Odoyo says that he had accepted the way his wife was but his parents could not stomach it.
“I was forced by my parents to marry another woman who had a child just to keep up with my peers who already had children. My new wife is now expecting but I regret sending my first wife away,” said Odoyo.
In African society, it is believed that when a family fails to get children, it’s the woman who has a problem and not the man. This African notion has destroyed many marriages that could be saved if the partners sought medical help.
Joash Otieno from Kakrao Ward in Migori County confirms that he was a victim of infertility for the past seven years. He says through advice from friends, family and even encouragement he got from his wife, they were able to seek medical attention and now they have two children.
“My wife received a lot of humiliation from my parents for not giving them grandchildren after seven years of marriage. The frustrations pushed her to seek medication and the tests proved she was okay. She advised me to do the same after which I was put under medication. Today I am a proud father of twins,” says Otieno with a big smile.
Dr. Ann Makokha, a reproductive health doctor in Migori town, says that infertility could occur to both men and women. She says that it is advisable for both partners in marriages to seek medical assistance if they are unable to sire children.
The doctor says that most people portrayed infertility as a lineage disease or some kind of witchcraft. She is advising married couples to visit health facilities for a checkup and solutions for their problems.
“After numerous failed attempts, married couples become very anxious about getting children such that the anxiety itself makes it even harder for them conceive,” said Dr. Makokha.
A Migori based Gynecologist Dr. Alex Muga shares the same thoughts. Having advised various couples on the infertility issues, he clarifies that both couples should undergo medical checkups when the problem arises. Muga says that at times, women are the ones that are blamed and yet in most cases, men are the one affected with infertility.
Dr. Muga says that, “the issue of infertility is not something that should be left in the hands of women. Instead of blaming women, men should take their wives to medical clinics to find out where the problem lies.”
He further advises men to be at the forefront in seeking medical advice on infertility problems because most of the cases are curable.