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Peeping through infertility window

22 Dec 2019 at 17:01hrs | Views
"Give me children ,or i shall die!" demands Rachel. "Am i in the place of God who has witheld from you fruit of the womb?" replies Jacob.

This conversation clearly illustrates the tensions which develop as couples fail to conceive. It is based on the bible story Genesis 30:1-2 where Rachel who was barren was feeling envy of her sister Leah who had children.Rachel was now demanding Jacob to make her pregnant else she was going to committ suicide.

Infertility is the inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy after a repeated intercourse without contraception for one year. There are two types of infertility namely primary and secondary infertility.Primary infertility describes a couple that has never been able to conceive after a minimum of 1 year of attempting to do so through unprotected intercourse.Secondary infertility is when they have previously conceived but are no longer able to.

Infertility is a life crisis with a wide range of socio-cultural , emotional ,physical and financial problems. When a couple fails to conceive within an expected period the pressure begins to mount from the couple itself, relatives ,friends and even church members. These forces come in various dimensions and forms , some directly and some indirectly especially to women.

Infertility brings all sorts of problems . It affects social and emotional aspects of life and cause psychological and emotional effects such as depression , frustration , hopelessness ,worthlessness ,anxiety ,stress and guilty. Emotional stress can lead to fatigue ,sleep or eating disturbances and inability to concentrate. Infertility can strain a healthy marriage. Frustration and depression may cause either partner to be irritable. Tensions develop in home and suicidal thoughts may creep in in some cases. Infertility tears at the core of couple's relationship since it affects sexuality, self esteem and self image.

 The modern society we live in is not sympathetic to the infertile and childless too. Our society measures feminity by the ability to have babies. The main casualty being the women especially in the African societies where the baby is valued more than its mother. Our culture makes it a taboo to say that a man is infertile since time immemorial. The blame is always carried by the woman who bears all the burden of infertility whilst the man walks scot free as if he has no problem at all. The problems faced by the infertile from society include stigma , isolation ,pre-judgement and ridicule. Being childless is regarded as a curse in the Zimbabwean society, and women are always on the receiving end because they are the ones who are expected to fall pregnant. They are called all sorts of names such as witches. Some are suspected to have been engaged in prostitution before they got married, others are accused of having aborted pregnancies before they were married resulting in their failure to conceive. Blame for childlessness is always laid on the women. They are ridiculed until death, where they are buried with a dead rats tied to their bodies.

Another issue that affects women is inheritance when a husband dies.Childless women are stripped of all their husband's wealth and possessions by the husband's relatives because of the belief that a woman can only inherit her marital belongings if she has bore a child in that relationship.There are inheritance laws that protect those women but in some cases the women fail to challenge,they feel guilty and some feel they are not worthy to get anything since they dont have children.

Another painful aspect is that relatives may actually say a couple is too lazy to have children.It boggles the mind how people might have the audicity to say that despite the efforts the couple might making to have children. When it comes to discplining misbehaving kids,infertile people may be told point blank that they are cruel because they dont know the process one goes through to have a baby.

Statistically infertility in couples on average 30% is due to males,30% due to females,10% due to both,25% unexplained and 5% to other issues.
Main causes of  infertility include problems with:
Sperm(quantity,quality & delivery)30-40%
Ovulation 15-20%
Fallopian tubes 25-40%
Cervix 5%
Unidentified factors 5-15%
Simply and in short i can say in males there are issues of sperms of having no sperms, poor quality ,low quantity and sperm ducts blockages.In females there are issues of reproductive system such as fibroids,menstrual disorders,ovulation and so on.Most of these issues are caused by hormonal imbalances.

Hoewver the main problem is that males do not want to go for infertility tests and as said before some think that when one is infertile he becomes less feminine.Others feel infertility is for females only.They dont want to visit health centres and the problem becomes difficult to solve because its solved from one side.

After knowing a myriad of problems faced by infertile couples we realized that a lot of infertile people suffered the curse of African tradition that shuns childlessness .We resolved there was need to share problems ,finding lasting solutions and linking with others in the same predicament. We formed the support group Tariro-Hope for the Infertile and Childless to share challenges & experiences in common without being judged, blamed, stigmatized or isolated. It is comprised of infertile & childless members ,as well as those who were infertile and were successful in conceiving.This support group is a forum where members can share problems and concerns , brainstorm solutions, give each other advice and form friendships. It helps the infertile to cope up with our problems. The issues are discussed on a practical basis and not theoretical way because the people involved are in the situation or where once in the situation.It is also a group working in shifting of public opinion and attitude towards the infertile & childless especially women and issues relating to infertility in Zimbabwe. It places a strong focus on the protection and support of infertile and childless women who are emotionally, psychologically and economically abused due to their failure to conceive and bear a child.

Infertility does not mean less human.During public gatherings such as family and church gatherings as well as holiday reunions lets treat the infertile and give them respect they deserve.Lets celebrate with them and know that they are part of us.They deserve our love as a society and lets break discrimination and stigmatisation.

_The author is Co-founder of Tariro-Hope Support Group for the Infertile and Childless.He can be contacted on 0718745374 heavenmunyuki@gmail.com_

Source - Heaven Munyuki
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