Agonising battle with infertility

15 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Agonising battle with infertility

The Sunday Mail

Veronica Gwaze

SAD tales of couples battling infertility are common in Zimbabwe, yet such cases are rarely talked about in the public domain.

Women are often blamed for failing to conceive.

Resultantly, some women are left with no choice and frequent medical doctors, faith and traditional healers and other unconventional methods as they seek remedies that may cure infertility.

In worst cases, others are even forced by traditional customs to try to conceive with the help of their husband’s brothers.

For six years, 37-year-old Elizabeth Magande had to bear the brunt of her failure to conceive.

She got married in a glamorous wedding that took place in one of the capital’s hotels in 2013.

A few months later, at a time when society expected her to be pregnant, she found herself in a predicament that was to persist for years.

In her third year of marriage, her husband had a child out of wedlock. This exposed her to relatives who over the years found themselves consciously or subconsciously firing all sorts of insults on her.

This prompted her to consult countless gynaecologists, clergymen and traditionalists alike, all to no avail.

She recalls how she was assured of positive results whenever she went for consultations.

“I eventually got tired of consulting and gave up . . . people insulted me to such an extent that I got depressed at some point and as I aged, I did not think I would ever be a mother one day,” she recalls.

However, in 2019, the couple, through a friend, heard about In-Vitro-Fertilisation (IVF) motivating them to visit the IVF Zimbabwe clinic.

Their hopes of relief soon turned to  despair as the charges for the procedure were too high.

The couple had to raise about US$4 000 to commence the procedure.

IVF is a process whereby the egg/ovum is removed from the ovary, combined with the sperms in a laboratory before it is injected back into the ovaries after being fertilised.

The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process.

“We did not have much in our savings at the time and to go into debt for a procedure we were not sure would work was not an option, but my husband insisted so we had to sell our car,” she said.

“When we started the procedure I was more than 30 years-old. We were worried about age, but after several tests the doctors assured us that all was well and that there were no complications hence chances were high that the procedure will be successful.”

After three months, it was confirmed that she was pregnant. They opened up to their families about the expensive procedure.

The couple’s child will be turning three in July this year. Bethel Makunike also has her share of experiences, enduring more than a decade of infertility.

She got married under customary law in 2007 at the age of 24.

For close to 10 years, she would consult various prophets in futile attempts to have a child of her own.

However, in 2020, after she was referred by another IVF beneficiary, she sought the services of IVF Zimbabwe although her family was against the idea.

Going ahead with the process anyway, little did she know that another problem awaited her. Her first trial was fruitless due to medical complications.

“The journey was frustrating but my husband was there for me.”

“I wanted to give up along the way especially after the first trial when I slipped into depression,” she revealed.

“I had to undergo some counselling sessions before taking a second trial which then became a success story.”

Makunike and Magande are part of the more than 156 success stories that have so far been recorded by IVF Zimbabwe since opening its doors in 2017.

Run by Dr Sydney Farayi and Dr Tinovimba Mhlanga, IVF Zimbabwe currently has one centre in Harare and another in Bulawayo.

The clinic was established to assist couples battling infertility.

“I actually recall my first patient back in 2017, it was scary, imagine conducting a procedure that can change someone’s life forever. However, it came out to be a success story and since then I have never looked back,” recalls Dr Farayi.

He said the clinic success rate is about 40-percent with most of the patients being women in their mid-30s and late 40s.

Dr Farayi said there has been an increased uptake of IVF services for various reasons including cultural and religious beliefs among others.

“Unlike in the past, we are now getting more patients with others even coming for their second or third procedures.”

An IVF procedure is currently pegged at between US$4 500 and USD$5 000 for patients with less complicated situations that require straight forward procedures while it may cost more for those with complicated cases.

House of Refuge Founder Pastor Partson Machengete opines that most couples who battle infertility usually seek solutions in the wrong places.

While he believes that God answers all prayers, he said some procedures need to be conducted by specialists.

“Sometimes clergymen get all mixed up, there are some procedures that should be conducted by those who are specially trained for that and our role is to pray for those procedures to succeed,” he said.

Johane Masowe leader Madzibaba Persuage Mhute argues that some apostolic churches have the ability to cure infertility.

He said through spiritual consultations, they have the power to cure any situation.

“If a prophet is genuine, they can cure that with simple concoctions but it is sad that most of these so called prophets are fake,” Madzibaba Mhute said.

Psychologist Dr Nisbert Mangoro notes that issues of infertility are not peculiar to Zimbabwe. However, he said, the cases were scarce back then and whenever there was a case, it was usually dealt with the traditional way.

He said, with time the issues have become prevalent hence it is key for people to embrace the new and sophisticated methods in finding solutions.

“They manipulate circumstances and information to create an impression that they have supernatural or divine powers that cure any situation. If one is desperate they do not think straight, they (people) are taken advantage of,” he said.

Mrs Tecla Moyo, who is in her late 30s and has been married for eight years, hopes to one day undergo IVF although finances are her largest constraint.

She feels the IVF procedure is too expensive hence it largely caters for a specific group.

“It has been years since I heard about the procedure but we cannot afford it. I feel there is a need for them to consider setting up even payment plans to accommodate everyone,” she said.

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