Couples above 46 should seek help six months after trying to conceive — Gynaecologist

Abayomi Ajayi

A consultant gynaecologist and fertility expert, Dr Abayomi Ajayi, has advised couples who are yet to conceive six months after having unprotected intercourse and are above 46 years old to see a gynaecologist for proper medical evaluation to ascertain the cause.

The maternal health specialist said the delay for those within the age group to seek medical assistance would reduce their chances of conception, as both men and women have reached peak fertility periods.

He expressed concern that many fertility-challenged couples in Nigeria wait for years before seeking medical assistance, noting that delay is not an ideal act.

Dr. Ajayi, who is the Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, highlighted this during a press briefing to mark the 20th anniversary of the facility.

The gynaecologist noted that women are at their reproductive peak period between ages 25 and 32 while in men, by 45 years, sperm quality begins to decline.

He said, “When a couple has been trying to get pregnant and there’s no success, they should see a gynaecologist.

“They don’t have to go to a reproductive assistance clinic immediately. If they visit an expert and it is discovered that they need in vitro Fertilisation to have their kids, then they better start quickly also, before they start telling them stories that touch the heart.

“At age 35, women’s fertility starts declining rapidly. Your best bet as a woman is to have children during your peak age.”

Dr. Ajayi said even though a man could impregnate a woman at any age, the quality of sperm, he noted, matters as the quality tends to decrease with age.

“Men are a little bit luckier but reproduction also decreases in men after age 40. By 45, their reproduction capacity starts declining and so is their chance of producing quality sperm that can fertilise a woman’s eggs.

“If a man is 50 and he marries a 25-year-old woman, he may not quickly get her pregnant like a 30-year-old man who marries a 25-year-old woman.

“Men can indeed impregnate a woman at any age, but the quality of sperm he is producing to fertilise eggs matters a lot”, he said.

The fertility specialist said the application of fertility treatment procedures such as IVF was growing rapidly across the globe, adding that the future for assisted conception in Nigeria was bright.

“The assisted conception industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Every day we can now see that it is not just for infertility anymore. Indeed the uses are more widespread.

“In Nigeria, we can use this more. In fact, the application of IVF is likely to increase more and more, hence the future is very bright, and even for medicine generally”, he added.

Dr. Ajayi revealed that Nordica Lagos had successfully helped thousands of fertility-challenged couples from all walks of life and all geographical locations within and outside Nigeria to complete their families, adding that this resulted in the birth of over 5,000 babies and still counting.

He said part of the centre’s success secret was its ability to manage people properly.

Describing the 20th-anniversary celebration and unveiling of the anniversary logo as a milestone, he said, “For me, this journey started as the dream of a man who felt that fertility-challenged Nigerian couples needed to avail themselves of the latest technology in the fertility management space at the time.

He said, “The pioneering efforts of a few of us then have led to the evolution of a world-class practice in Nigeria, comparable to any leading fertility centre in developed cities of the world.

‘We are proud to say that our thrust to bring the latest technology, techniques and skills to bear on the fertility management landscape in Nigeria has seen us chart a course for innovative solutions to the benefit of our esteemed clients over the past 20 years.”

Dr. Ajayi noted that Nordica Lagos has partnered with several organisations to give access to free IVF treatments to deserving Nigerian couples.

He said that the centre was currently exploring partnerships which will assist in enabling it to give more free treatments to infertile couples.

“We have vigorously pursued a knowledge transfer initiative through our ‘Physicians Roundtable’ which is our special purpose vehicle to help with continuous professional development of specialist and general practice doctors to improve knowledge in the area of fertility management via virtual and physical training programmes.

“This year we also want to do more for our medical community partners. We Will be hosting several training initiatives across our operational centres in Lagos, Asaba and Abuja,” he said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says infertility evaluation may be offered to any patient who by definition has infertility or is at high risk of infertility.

“Women older than 35 years should receive an expedited evaluation and undergo treatment after six months of failed attempts to become pregnant or earlier if clinically indicated.

“In women older than 40 years, more immediate evaluation and treatment are warranted. If a woman has a condition known to cause infertility, the obstetrician–gynaecologist should offer immediate evaluation”, ACOG said