The hope of conception for thousands by married couples, who are having difficulties in getting pregnant after years of marriage, has been rekindled through Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation, a support group.
The foundation is a non-profit making organisation and pet project of Pastor Ibidunni Ighodalo, wife of Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, founder of the Trinity House, Lagos.
The foundation is created to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility and to provide grants for couples that require fertility treatments such as (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). The foundation partners with highly reputable fertility clinics in Nigeria and other donours to provide couples with the financial and material support they require during the treatments. It also offers the necessary psychological and spiritual support they require to deal with the pressures they face along their journey to conception.
At the maiden conference held at the weekend in Lagos, with hundreds of parents-in-waiting in attendance, guests were offered free medical checks for High Blood Pressure among others to ascertain their heath fitness.
During one of the topics of conference, ‘Infertility; causes and solutions’, couples who had almost lost hope of bearing their own children after years of childlessness were educated on alternative medical options available for exploration to enable them achieve their dreams.
At the conference, medical experts on fertility matters listed factors that cause infertility in either a woman or man (couples) and provided solutions. They also dealt with the societal misconceptions, superstitions and stigmas that are associated with couples going through the challenges of infertility.
Beyond infertility and its solution, three resource persons at the conference spoke from medical and legal angles on the processes for child adoption. They were Dr. Margaret Irele, IVF Coordinator at RODING Healthcare Ltd, Lagos, Dr. Femi Olayinfa, Oluwatoyin Ikotun, Head of Adoption in the Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs.
Dr. Margaret Irele, who discussed on infertility on both the male and female factors, defined infertility as “a condition in which a couple live together for and have regular intercourse one year without conception by the woman.” She said infertility is responsible for a lot of broken marriages in the society today.
Dr. Irele identified abnormal semen as factor responsible for infertility in men coupled with testicular infection, testicular cancer, testicular surgery, overheat, tight underpant, diabetes, hypogonadism and mumpse. Others are; hypospadias, radiotherapy, infection among others.
For the female, Dr. Irele listed ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, hyperprolactinemia, poor egg quality and over-reactive thyroid gland.
According to her, risk factors can also affect a woman from conceiving. These are; age, excessive physical exercise, sexual transmitted diseases (STD) and mental stress.
Dr. Irele, also spoke on sorogacy as means of child-bearing. Under this arrangement, a couple contracts a young woman between ages 22 – 26 to conceive for the husband. The pregnant mother is given adequate prenatal care and at delivery the baby is nursed, while the mother’s contract with the legal owner of the baby terminates.
To diagnose infertility in a man, Dr. Irele, said thorough medical investigation is required such as general physical examination, semen analysis, blood test (male hormones) and infection screening for treatment. The same measure also applies to a woman.
Femi Olaifa dealt with the processes involved in Invitro Fertilization (IVF), disclosing that infertility occurs when a couple have unprotected sex for twelve months without pregnancy.
According to him, the first thing that occurs in Invitro Fertilization (IVF) is ovarian stimulation. The woman’s healthy egg is extracted through a process; the sperm is injected into it. Then it is injected into the womb to achieve pregnancy.
As well, Oluwatoyin Ikotun, head of adoption and fostering unit, Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs, , who spoke on Adoption Services, explained the legal processes, which couples that seek to adopt a child must follow.
According to him, “The first step for prospective child adoption is application. It is followed by a ministerial invitation for interview to determine the kind of adoption and submission of form. Then, a pre-counseling session is organized with the applicant.”
“The next stage of child adoption is home assessment, where someone is assigned to visit the applicant’s home to ensure the child is friendly. Then an Adoption Panel Committee is mandated to scrutinize the report submitted on the child.
“If the applicant is successful, an approval letter is given to the candidate to visit any orphanage home to check any child of his choice. At the stage, here, legislation is done and the baby becomes legally owned by the applicant who is now parent(s)”.
Special Guest of honour, Hajia Miriam Sanusi, wife of the Emir of Kano, lamented that infertility has dealt blows on many women in the society, adding that scientific ignorance of the issue is a reason for social stigma on women going through infertility problem.
She noted that 40 percent of women infertility problem are believed to be spiritual.
The wife of the Emir of Kano advised that men must stand by their wives who are having fertility challenges so that God may answer their prayers. She asked women to show love to their fellow to make the world a better place.
Hajia Sanusi commended Ibidunni Ighodalo for initiative in setting up the foundation and prayed God to empower her to realize goal and objectives of the organization.
Some women including; Amem Akenzua and Pastor Oyedipo Bankole shared testimonies about their infertility problems, saying it was difficult and painful. They thanked God for giving them the grace to have their own children through the IVF method.
Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo of the Kings International Christian Centre (KICC), Lagos, who handled the free maiden fertility screening of the couples, commended Mrs Ighodalo for setting up the foundation.
Ashimolowo said the foundation would help immensely in solving a lot of infertility problems among many couples in the country.
Guests applauded Mrs. Ighodalo for setting up such a foundation designed to put smiles on couples who have almost lost the hope of child- bearing.
In a vote of thanks, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, chairman of the Foundation, said; “My wife has done phenomenally well in setting up the foundation to help humanity.”
He thanked all the partner organizations for collaborating with the foundation as he looked forward more companies identify with the initiative.