Infertility is something Nigerian women sometimes struggle with. With a lot of importance placed on women’s ability to have children, what happens when you cannot? Four Nigerian women share their individual struggles with infertility.
My sister is 40, and has been trying for a baby for about ten years. I think few years into the marriage, doctors detected that she had a not so big or life threatening fibroid, and it was removed without any problem. Also one time one of her doctors told her he thinks one of the reasons she does not have children yet is probably because she started having sex late. She didn’t start having sex until she got married at 30. Something about the ovaries being denatured due to no sexual activity. Her menstruation is like clockwork, comes every time without any problem.
She tried IVF once, but it was not successful. She’s my sister and I want her to be happy, but it seems like she needs this to complete her happiness. She feels like she hasn’t been able to achieve something meaningful or precious. I talked to her about adoption, but she isn’t open because she wants something from her own body. I think she’s depressed, but she doesn’t want to admit it because of how she’s really conservative. Family and friends give her a lot of pitying looks and it adds to her feeling underachieved. People are also always giving advice to her and it annoys her. Try this drug, take this prophet’s number, attend this program, take this flyer, go to this hospital, take this herbal concoction, try this nasty mixture and so on.
Imagine the plumber who came to work for us saying a prayer for her about getting pregnant?! How did they know? What is their business? She isn’t motivated to do anything other than go to work or church, and she tries to numb herself from reality. I think she’s trying to cope but it’s not easy. The major problem being that she doesn’t have a supportive spouse. He’s the worst. When they tried IVF and they were told that it wasn’t successful, my sister was in shock and numb. Her husband didn’t even hug her. He isn’t with her while she injects herself every day. He doesn’t pray with her or call to find out how she is. That day, he just brought her home and left to go back to where he works.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2014, and I think I started passively trying then. I was not actively trying, but not using contraception or preventing it either. It wasn’t until 2016 that I then became worried and went to the doctor. After several tests and a couple of surgeries, we ended up having IVF in 2017 which did not work. We were due to have a second round of IVF, but things did not work out and were no longer together. It was initially considered unexplained infertility, but then later they found some abnormalities with my partner’s sperm. I’ve been told several times there’s nothing wrong with me, and there’s no reason why I should not be able to have kids but the fact I’ve never been pregnant is a big worry for me. I’m now in another relationship and although we’re not trying yet I still worry a lot about it.
I’m still not sure if I want to get married again, but I would really like to have kids with my current partner. I really try not to worry too much, but I am terrified it won’t happen. I haven’t really spoken about it to anyone about it but I think about it all the time. It was so awful when I got married and everyone would ask about kids. My best friend actually got pregnant by accident around the same time the IVF failed and I had a mini breakdown. It was one of the worst times of my life. The last doctor I spoke to literally looked at me like I was mad because there was medically no reason to be concerned, but I guess anxiety does not care about reason. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to make peace with the fact that I won’t die if it doesn’t happen.
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I have been married for five years, and been for a child for four. While I lived in Lagos, I had a lot of tests done when I officially started trying to have a kid. Before the results came back the doctor diagnosed me with PCOS, and put me on some medication that was supposed to help, but that didn’t work. When I got to Canada, they ruled out PCOS after some tests were conducted. After further diagnostic testing and a surgery, the doctors found out that a surgery I had at a private hospital in Nigeria for a tumour seven years ago had badly damaged one of my tubes. Unfortunately, it was the tube that kept ovulating. I had to have a laparoscopic surgery to correct that recently.
All the trips to the hospital can be so stressful. In the beginning my husband could accompany me, but when I started going to the doctor in Canada, covid hit and I had to start going alone. He couldn’t even accompany me for the last surgery, he could only pick me up. Before the surgery happened, I tried IUI which is a form of assisted reproduction. All through the entire process, I was sad and very anxious. I just felt like this basic thing that my body was supposed to be able to do, I could not do it. Pressure from family members was also very annoying, and there was always a prayer or message about me conceiving. It doesn’t seem like it bothers my husband, and he’s even open to adoption. I just feel like we have not gotten to the stage yet. After the surgery, my doctor said my chances of conceiving naturally or with IUI is higher. If I try that for a while and it doesn’t work I will try IVF. If that doesn’t work, then I will adopt. I just think I should exhaust all my medical options before considering it.
I got married when I was 28, and for seven years I tried for a child. At that time, IVF and all the other scientific methods were not as popular, affordable or accessible. What was however, were prayer houses, fertility pills and lots of herbs. My husband’s family never really treated me any differently, but that did not stop other people from doing so. Everyone believed they had the solution to your “problem”. I had friends and family members recommending me to go for scan after scan, from prayer house to prayer house, and to taste this new concoction they had mixed for me from the herbs of something.
People would make weird comments, and some would consciously and unconsciously try to exclude you from certain activities because you do not have a child. I was so sad. Constantly sad. Seven years of pain and hurt, and feeling inadequate. Eventually, I had a child. One who I almost died bringing into this world. Now, she is a stubborn nineteen soon to be twenty year old that does not listen to me, but instead eats my food and spends my money.
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