NORDICA Fertility Centre, Dr. ABAYOMI AJAYI
This is the excerpt from the one on one interview City People reporter JAMIU ABUBAKAR had with the MD/CEO of Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi. In the insightful interview, the reproductive health expert spoke on many conventional causes responsible for men’s infertility which is growing at an alarming rate. Read and enjoy!
What can you say about the alarming rate of infertility in Nigeria?
The incident of having 1 in 6 people battling infertility is higher in Nigeria. The figure that somebody released said the figure is about 33%. She reviewed the Ministry of Health figure and said it is higher than what we have been quoting which was 25%. The lady is not a Nigerian. She came to conduct her PhD thesis in the ministry. What are the things that are responsible for this? Some of them are obvious, some are not too obvious. There’s no doubt that we have seen that male fertility is going down worldwide. We don’t know what is exactly responsible for this. We did a 10 years study here in Nordica. That was between 2004 and 2014 and we saw that the sperm parameters of men who reported here had declined about 30% in 10 years. So, it means a decline of 3% every year. A year was released again last year in America, looking at Europe and America. And they said sperm count has reduced about 50% in the last 40 years. So, there is no doubt that something is happening to men.
What are those things happening to men?
Lifestyle is part of them. The other things we cannot really place a finger on because we are looking at so many things that contain spermicides that we were using at home. So that exposure might be higher but we need to be careful so that we are not seen as alarmists. But the ones we think we can look at like the lifestyle. You don’t really need to look far. In Nigeria, you see people smoking weeds here and there. This has an effect on sperm count. So, we now see a lot of couples, even here. They come, they want to do fertility treatment and the two of them are smoking. Most of the time the woman will not tell you she is smoking. She would tell you my husband is smoking. If the husband is smoking, there is an 80% chance that the wife will also smoke because they use it for so many things. It is more difficult to have intercourse with somebody who has smoked than when you are not smoking on a routine basis. So these are one of the things that are affecting sperm count, that are affecting fertility generally.
Why is lifestyle a key reason?
Lifestyle is a big thing. Many young boys are becoming so obsessed and they don’t give a damn about it. One day I went somewhere and I saw a guy who was very slim and was drinking an energy drink. I looked at him and said; Oga, do you know what you are doing to yourself? Go to the night club and see the way they are handling hot drinks as if it’s water. Before when I was growing up, girls who even drink don’t drink publicly. But now things have changed. So many things are happening right now. We are becoming westernised. Some of these things have an effect on our fertility. You see boys, they say they are “eating iron”, they are doing 6 packs and they are taking all kinds of drugs in order to develop those muscles. And you talk about sperm count. So, there are so many things that are happening to us right now. There is also a study that said that men should not put their cell phone in their pockets that the nearer it is to your testis; the radio waves can affect sperm production. Same with men that wear tight pants.
What other factors do you think are responsible?
There are horrible things people mix to get high. Not only men do this. The truth is women are not spared anymore. Sex has almost become a hand shake in some parts of our organisation. And sexually transmitted diseases are still there. The old factors are still present. They are still part of lifestyle. When talking about lifestyle, the age at which you start a family is important. Everybody needs to know, especially women. They have an age range where they are at their reproductive peak. So, women should start child bearing early. By the time you are 30, you have to be careful. 35year your fertility starts declining rapidly. So, your best birth is when you are between 25 and 32. This is your peak period.
At what do men get to their reproductive peak?
Men are a little bit luckier but reproduction also decreases in men after 40. By 45, you see that the DNA fragmentation index of men, the sperm of men decreases. And that reduces your chance to fertilize a woman. If a man is 50 and he marries a 25 years old lady who is at her prime and another man is 30 and he marries a 25 years old woman, you know the age of the woman is constant. It’s faster when there is no problem for a 30 years old man to impregnate his wife than a 50 years old man. The fact that after the girl is pregnant, the chances of miscarriage is higher in the 50 years old man. The chances of congenital abnormalities is higher in the 50 years old man. It is true that man can impregnate people of any age but so many factors are also involved.
What advice do you have for couples waiting? How soon can they start considering going for IVF?
If you are unable to get pregnant and you are less than 35, one year please start quickly so that we can see if there is anything wrong. You don’t have to come to an IVF office to start with. Go to the gynaecologist to have a proper assessment and if you need IVF, you better start quickly before we start telling stories that touch the heart.
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