National and international experts on fertility issues have advised African women, especially Nigerians, to begin childbirth at an early stage in life.
They gave the advice during the eighth annual international conference of the Association of Fertility and Reproductive Health (AFRH) which held in Lagos.
Answering questions from journalists, Steward Disu, consultant gynaecologist based in London, says it is advisable for women to have their children before the age of 30, which he says is when fibroid typically sets in.
Asked why fibroids and other infertility issues are more prevalent in African women, Disu said: “We know that it is genetic, we know that west African women, Nigerians, Ghanaians, three out of four of them have fibroids compared to Caucasian women, one out of four women have fibroid.
“And that is the genetic component that Africans have more than the Caucasians. Two, fibroids grow maximally between 30-40 years old. And most of us, with the current socio-economic reality don’t start having children, the women having their children later after they have gotten a decent job, by that time, fibroid to will show itself.
“We know that in the west part of Nigeria, Ijesha yam is responsible for twins. One of the factors, apart from genetics, is that the nature of the estrogen in the yam is thought to be responsible or supportive of having twins.
“If you use that ideology, then fibroids are probably more common in women that have been exposed to this yam tuber from the age of 9 to the age of forty. It doesn’t mean that every woman that eat yams have fibroids.”
Also speaking, Joyce Harper, an IVF and reproductive genetics specialist, also advised women not to wait too long before seeking help.
She, however, called for steps to reduce the cost of treatment, which she says discourages many people from attempting ART treatment.
“I have had three IVF children and I am not worried about it. We certainly need to follow up with the children. There is no option, if you don’t go through this treatment, the option is no children,” Harper said.
“The best thing is to start trying younger, to not leave it till you grow older cos in the female, it just gets worse. They need to try it sooner. The definition of infertility is trying for one year. One of my best friends have tried 11 times and was not successful.
“A lot of women come when they are 40 and their eggs are just finished. They are not gonna get pregnant cos their eggs are bad.
“My concern is that because a lot of the clinics are private, they have made it very expensive, and who suffers? The patient, because the patient has to pay. So, I have an issue with that.”