Category: Blog

June 25, 2018

 

It might come as a surprise to many that infertility is a big issue in our society, but this is not news to those of us in medical practice, especially in women health services. The causes of this high incidence are many and they vary from social to environmental and to medical factors, either separately or combined.

Infertility is described as when efforts to get pregnant fail repeatedly for up to one year or more, of regular unprotected intercourse. While the challenge affects both men and women in more ways than one, almost half of all the cases are traceable to the female folks. And an alarming report claims that one in every six women has had to deal with infertility at one point of her life.

But one reason the problem persists in most cases is not unconnected to the fact that many women or couples refuse to acknowledge that it is a problem the fact they are struggling to conceive, till well into the woman’s late thirties or forties when the quality of her eggs is naturally diminished.

Some of the causes are attached to lifestyle patterns and habits, and others are health challenges that could be medically avoided or treated. However, whether you’re just considering having your own kids, or you have already encountered infertility in some ways, understanding the causes from the medical perspectives will put you in a better position to achieve the pregnancy you so desire.

In that case, this article will give you some ideas of what usually causes infertility. When it happens, you have a list to run through first without having to panic.

Harmful Consumption Habits

Before we even talk about diseases and other unnatural issues associated with infertility, you should realize that your eating and/or drinking habits could be the problem. Saving yourself from infertility could be as simple as switching this into the positive.

How do you expect your system to remain balanced when you love heavy smoking? Oh, you don’t smoke yourself? But you hang out in lounges and nightclubs… those environments where side-stream smoke is the air people breathe and which sadly is actually more harmful to the human body.

Smoking and inhaling smokes damage the efficiency of female hormones that are connected to your reproduction system. And the same goes for the consumption of excess sugar and/or high cholesterol, which could lead to diabetes and/or being overweight, both of which could hamper the normal activities of the female reproductive systems.

Radiation

If you have undergone certain medical procedures involving radiation such as chemotherapy, your reproductive system might have been affected.

Radiation is capable of disrupting the interactions between hormones and body systems that regulate ovulation.

And you will agree that without that taking place efficiently, pregnancy remains far away.

Genetic Disorders

Have you checked the possibility of your infertility being hereditary? Does your mother, or older siblings have a similar experience?

A defect in genetics could pass down through generations, which signifies an inherent infertility. It could be a recurring malfunction of the ovaries, fallopian tubes or any other body parts.

Excess Prolactin Hormone

There is a little bit of irony here in this case also referred to as hyperprolactinemia, the condition when a woman has the prolactin hormone in excess.

This is because prolactin is one of the major hormones that make women, women. It develops the breasts and helps produce breast milk.

Ideally, the level is higher during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and this is so as to make you less likely to conceive while breastfeeding a baby or you are currently pregnant.

However, when the hormone is active at a time you’re not doing any of the two, the reproductive system is suppressed. Ovulation becomes irregular, before completely stopping, and this will lead to infertility.

Premature Ovarian Syndrome

This is when the quality and number of eggs produced in the ovary are abysmally low in a young woman. The two factors reduces the possibility for conception.

It could be as a result of surgical injuries to the ovaries or exposure to toxins during surgical procedures. The syndrome is also congenital, transferring down the family line.

Some of the symptoms you may find include irregular or absent periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia.

Blockage of the Fallopian Tube

Fallopian tubes help with transmitting eggs and sperms. It is also the nexus for the two to fertilize. However, when there is a blockage of the tube in one area or perhaps each side, natural pregnancy is not likely.

This could have been caused by sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as Chlamydia, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The more you allow such infections to linger in your body, the more you are at risk of tubal occlusion.

Abnormal Growth of Endometrium

The endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus. It thickens and grows every menstrual cycle, preparing the uterus for the fertilised egg. But when there is no pregnancy, it is ejected through menstruation.

The abnormality comes when endometrium grows outside of the uterus, into the lungs, fallopian tubes or ovaries. Extremely painful menstrual period, pelvic pains, and pain during defecation or urination accompany it.

Growing outside the uterus means it blocks away the uterus, and this may prevent an egg from getting to the fallopian tubes. Hence, pregnancy can’t happen.

Dysfunction of the Thyroid

Thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism and energy in the body.

However, the challenge comes when this hormone is being produced in inadequate proportion. It leads to irregular ovulation, thereby making it difficult to conceive.

If you have thyroid dysfunction, you may experience fatigue, weight gain, frequently feeling cold, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and unusual weight.

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones like androgen are male hormones for the development of physiological characteristics. It should ideally be at the lowest level in women, but when the case is otherwise, infertility is bound to happen.

When you have irregular or absent menstrual cycles, acne, oily skin, abnormal hair growth, and obesity, it is very likely that your androgen levels are higher than normal.

Likewise when the delicate communication between the pituitary gland, the ovaries and the follicles does not work properly, ovulation does not occur.

Imbalance hormone causes irregular ovulation, or sometimes stops it from happening at all. The condition is so virulent that it is sometimes responsible for miscarriages.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

A significant number of STIs are deadlier than people generally acknowledge, hence are not strongly prevented or treated.

For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most virulent STIs responsible for infertility. They eat deep into the female reproductive systems, disrupting the normal flow of activities.

If you want to know whether you have either of these, you can look out for symptoms like pelvic pain, spotting, and unusual discharges.

There is also the Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which clogs the fallopian tube, and prevents fertilization from taking place.

Conclusion

Now that you have learnt about the most common causes of infertility we have seen over the years. If taken to heart, you can be more observant and aware of yourself, your body and organs in particular whenever you’re having issues conceiving or suspect such to be the case.

More importantly, it is strongly advised that you take any concerns you might have or suspect to your medical doctor or a trusted relevant medical practitioner in good time, so that a proper check and analysis can be made regarding what the issue could be.

I believe that this will help you make informed decisions when seeking treatment, or trying to prevent infertility from happening at all. Just like in general healthcare, the earlier the better. This is true for issues relating to infertility in women or problems with conception.

Our approach at St Ives IVF/Fertility practice is result-oriented because we are focused on getting you results. We only stop when you have the bundle of joy you desire in your loving arms. You just need to book an appointment now, and you can be one of our remarkable success stories.

About The Author

Dr. Osahon Ede-Edokpolor is an obstetrician-gynecologist, and a fertility expert with the ST. Ives IVF/Fertility Unit. He is also the Chief Medical Officer at St. Ives Specialist Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Posted in Blog by Admin
June 20, 2018

Breastfeeding is the most natural and best way to feed babies. And the benefits derivable from breastfeeding of newborns are legion, but not many are aware that the benefits extend to both babies and mothers.

From the World Health Organization, WHO to the United Nations Children Educational Fund, UNICEF and many other relevant national and international organizations, including pediatric associations recommend that no other food besides breast milk be given to babies from day one until they are six months old at the earliest.

Furthermore, it is advised that breastfeeding should continue even after starting babies on solid foods at six months. This is the concept called “baby-friendly”, and the main reason is that this approach is the best way to develop a strong immunity system for the newborn child among many other invaluable benefits.

The Goodness in Breast Milk

According the 2016 Lancet series on Breastfeeding, “the benefits of unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding practices as initiated within an hour from birth results in

  1. Ample milk production to sustain the infants; (except for a few medical conditions),
  2. Leads to 87% preventable deaths in infants younger than 6 months (2016),
  • Reduces infant mortality associated with common childhood illnesses like diarrhea or pneumonia and
  1. Ensures quicker recovery from illnesses.

The mother also benefits maximally in child spacing, reduction of ovarian and breast cancers, and ensuring rapid maternal weight loss after birth,” it was further supported.

Breastfeeding Rates Around The World

One would then be forgiven for taking it for granted that many mothers and would-be mothers will be eager to acquiesce to these informed directions once they realized the enormous benefits they and their babies stand to gain from the practice. But it is not the case worldwide in spite of the age-long campaign for breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding Rates In Nigeria

Even more worrying is that here in Nigeria where many of us are weaned and grew up on the breastfeeding tradition, we seem to have fallen behind in the rates of adoption of breastfeeding by our women, whilst the leading countries in terms of practice and adherence are fellow African nations.

Nigeria is nowhere amongst the highest countries by rates, we are more in the company of the lowest.

According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Nigeria’s exclusive breastfeeding rate (breastfeeding babies from 0-6 months of age) was a paltry 17 percent in 2013, while the National Nutrition and Health Survey had it at 25 percent in 2014.

A mere 18percentage point improvement over a 20-year period from 7.4% in 1994.  By comparison, Ghana’s exclusive breastfeeding rate improved from same 7.4% as Nigeria in 1994 to a commendable 63% in 2013.

What is going on with our mothers?

Is this a direct fallout of our avowed civilization or modernization? Or is it the fast increasing rave of “feminism” gripping more and more of our women? The likely factors responsible for our poor adherence rate will be examined in subsequent posts.

Given this worryingly slow rate of improvement, the amazing and invaluable benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child in more ways than one cannot therefore be overemphasized:

  1. Breast milk provides all the nutrition the baby needs.

Especially in those early days and months when the infant is unable to take solid foods and indulge in varieties.

  1. Breast milk fortifies the child with strong immunity.

This natural food from mothers is chockfull of hundreds of antibodies and enzymes as well as other helpful materials that together form the immune system that protects babies from many infections and childhood diseases such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, among others.

  1. Breast milk is easy for the baby to digest

The liquid state of breast milk makes it most suitable for babies’ digestive system to tolerate.

  1. It is always at the right temperature

Coming directly from the mother’s body, breast milk is not only natural, it always comes at the right temperature and therefore safe and healthy for the baby.

Image courtesy: bigstockphoto.com

  1. It is easy to provide and always handy

Hey, this one is a winner! Besides regular breast hygiene, you don’t have to go through several processes to get it ready, as it is always ready. No rushing around to boil water, no panicking for running out of formula, no aggravations from having to look for materials and utensils… just roll over or sit up and draw your baby closer.

  1. It helps develop stronger bones in later life

Apart from fortifying the immune system, breastfeeding comes with loads and loads of naturally occurring calcium that helps strengthens the baby’s bones for later years.

  1. Breastfeeding helps mothers manage their weight

This motherly duty is a sweat-free exercise that helps burn tons of calories, and in the process helping new mothers fight the unavoidable accumulation of “baby-fat” and return more quickly to pre-pregnancy weight. This happens because

  1. It helps mother and child to bond

If practiced regularly for the recommended period, it brings about a quicker and closer bond between mother and infant in those early stages of the baby’s life. During breastfeeding, mothering hormones like oxytocin and prolactin are released which help in the process of producing milk, calming babies and getting you in the mood to nurture, thus bringing pleasures beyond the act of feeding.

  1. Helps fight cancer

Breastfeeding significantly lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women

  1. It helps prevent diabetes and heart attacks

Before now, various research reports had propounded the theory that breastfeeding increases insulin sensitivity and improves glucose metabolism in the mother. But in recent months, new researchers in the United States have been able to affirm after a 30-year long study, “that those who had breastfed their children for at least six months were 47 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes during the three decades compared to mothers who did not breastfeed”.

In the report published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, Dr. Erica Gunderson, senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California further confirmed that “we found a very strong association between breastfeeding duration and lower risk of developing diabetes, even after accounting for all possible confounding risk factors”.

This final point is particularly delightful and should be an encouraging factor for our nursing and prospective mothers to take breastfeeding serious and for the longest time possible.

 Nigeria’s lack of progress in exclusive breastfeeding should be an anomaly that we must consciously reverse in the shortest possible period because the fact that exclusively breastfed babies are 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child, and that breastfeeding drastically reduces the propensity of mothers to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, and heart attacks should be an attractive enough incentive to let our newborns latch on to our breasts and suckle on the natural blessed milk that flows forth.

At St. Ives hospital, we offer a specialized lactation service and consultations entailing lectures and practical guides, given by qualified lactation experts (doctors and nurses), for expectant mothers who register for antenatal care and deliver in our hospitals.

Posted in Blog by Admin
May 18, 2018

By Dr. Tunde Okewale

CEO, St. Ives Healthcare Group

-Image courtesy: bigstockphoto.com

The circumstances surrounding the death of Swedish DJ and dance music star, Avicii, born Tim Bergling is tragic: he had severe health challenges and fell into depression; his depression got to the peak and he turned to alcoholism; his succor in alcohol quickly further deteriorated his health and his pain became unbearable; consequently he lost all reasons to live, and resolved to commit suicide.

 

Sadly, he was found dead on April 20, 2018. He was only 28 years old.

 

You may be surprised to know that millions of Nigerians live daily under similar circumstances and the reality is even more worrisome for two reasons: Nigerians have a ton-load of challenges to cite (for Nigerians, substitute health challenges for any of health, financial, marital, work, family challenges) as triggers, and because we play down on depression and mental health in general in this society. In the process, we are inadvertently welcoming to it, negligently enabling of it, and sadly failing to deal with it.

 

Alcoholism And Drugs As Pop Culture

A lot of people therefore live oblivious of this death sentence dangling on their heads and instead of admitting their grim mental states and requesting help, they look for temporary routes of escape and distractions such as alcohol, drugs or crime.

 

 

And the magnitude of recourse to these destructive habits is alarming because it’s at epidemic proportions amongst the youth in the country, who do not actually require major life challenges before turning to drugs and booze. To them, getting high and bingeing on booze is a mark of being a man and thus, a “status symbol”.

 

Actually it has been elevated to the status of “pop culture” and it negatively impacts those who are attracted to, and influenced by it. And they represent a huge number of young people. Quite a lot of them want to “Belong”.

 

-Image courtesy: pexels.com

 

While we mourn the inglorious passing of DJ Avicii, we should not lose sight of what he truly represents: the young Swede was accomplished at such a young age, having left a remarkable body of works in music as lasting legacy. However, and more importantly: he left lessons for us, which must be acknowledged and heeded because we would be better off learning to cross the ditch he couldn’t.

 

So, following are highlights of the core factors that led to Tim Bergling’s bad health and eventual suicide, and how you can scale them without resorting to the ultimate escape of death.

 

The Demands and Disguise of Depression

Like you might have experienced at some point: a switch of lifestyle can be difficult sometimes. An example is when you move to a new environment away from your friends and usual faces; when you get into a new school; or when you’re on a new job. Or when you become a new person like winning a reality show or a recording contract, or a movie award.

 

Suddenly you are a Star!

 

It usually takes some time to get your balance and adjust to the new life. This wasn’t so easy for DJ Avicii whose transition from being an introvert, to hard-partying DJ constantly under the limelight took a deadly tow on him until he gave up on trying and succumbed to the impossible demands.

 

And this is picture-perfect scenario for the multitude of our young ones who seek the glitz and glamor of the entertainment industry. When you are taking too long to adapt to this kind of change; when you suffer to meet up with the exacting demands of being the “Star”, when you feel like it all makes you be a “different person”, you become easily prone to depression. Things won’t have clear meanings anymore, and the more these feelings linger, the more your mind gets tired. Soon you can no longer see the lines.

 

That’s exactly how depression happens. It begins when meaning doesn’t seem to be clear on what you do any longer. It saps your energy, both physically and emotionally. At this point, however, giving up is not even an option because you feel you have to live this new life. You feel obligated though you feel oppressed.

 

So when you start feeling like this weight of expectations and obligations is literally “killing” you, then depression is you. Boy, you NEED HELP.

 

I mean you should get help immediately. In clinics or counselling centres, you will be surprised how a simple therapy will help you sanitize your mind, and get you back on track. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help for mental infractions… to be on top of the game requires that you be on top of your game. And that most definitely means you need to stay sane and in control.

 

Another popular “pop” artist, Kanye West, was once at this low point, but it only took him a few months to retrace successfully. The untold truth is that several superstars have had to get “HELP” at some points to stay on top of their games, but such cases are hardly news because they need to keep up the “larger-than-life”, always in control superstar personae

 

Sometimes it’s just being able to talk to someone who doesn’t see you as the superstar you have become. Sometimes it’s just getting back to family members who had become strangers since your new status. Those are the people that can help you retrace your roots and rediscover the pieces that make you, YOU.

 

DJ Avicii eventually reached out to his family before he passed, but his brother’s flight to Oman where he was, was two hours (too) late.

 

For you, act quickly. Act now.

 

Alcoholism

Alcohol use is common to people fighting depression. It’s intoxicating, and that means they have less sane time to be worried about on-going issues in their lives. It was an escape route Avicii strongly relied on.

 

Do you know the problem with alcohol exactly?

 

It won’t take the problem away, and it will destroy your health slowly. It only works in the moment, and that minute when you’re sober again, the need to drink calls right in. In the Swedish DJ’s case, he had been diagnosed of acute pancreatitis, which implies inflammation of the pancreas.

 

Pancreatitis and other health hazards from Alcoholism

The pancreas is the gland helps digestions, but it freezes at the sight of heavy drinking and becomes useless. Avicii had undergone a surgery to remove his gallbladder, after suffering from severe complications. But his uncontrollable recourse to heavy liquor meant his body could not function properly and his pain became intolerable. Ultimately he sought the final escape.

 

Obviously, alcoholism will only undermine your race to recovery, putting you in further jeopardy if you’re depressed. But depression and pancreatitis are not the only health hazards occasioned by chronic alcohol dependency, a myriad of avoidable health issues abound as follow:

 

  1. Liver cirrhosis and other liver diseases
  2. Anemia
  3. Higher risk of various cancer
  4. Immune system dysfunction
  5. Nerve damages
  6. Cardiovascular diseases
  7. Dementia
  8. Ulcer and other gastrointestinal problems
  9. Osteoporosis
  10. Gout
  11. Seizures
  12. Hypertension
  13. Brain damage

 

It is clear to agree that the temporary high from alcohol is not worthy enough for the legion of jeopardy it can cause, but the ease of access and the peer pressure of indulgence make it difficult to keep the youth sane enough to see reason.

 

Escapism into Drugs and Addictions

Tim Bergling wasn’t guilty of this, at least with the information in public domain. However, when depressed, you will be tempted to escape into drugs, weed smoking and a host of other activities that are of no good to your health.

 

I consider it necessary to add drug escapism because it has prominence in Nigeria. Struggling, tired and unhappy, many people live on weed, alcoholic bitters and gins to ‘forget about the worries of the moment.’ Of course, you will be too exhilarated at the moment to worry about anything, but you know too that you only have a few hours to get back into the ditch of depression. Worse still, you will be putting your liver, kidney, pancreas and heart at risk.

 

You’ve got to kill the depression before it does you. It happens, for plenty of reasons, but you’ve got the responsibility to quell it before it escalates.

 

Social “Responsible” Drinking

However, we can help ourselves and our young ones keep a healthy distance from liquor by being good examples. Alcohol in moderation hurts no one, and might even be healthy.

 

The onus thus falls more on the older populace to help keep the younger ones in check through exemplary role models behaviors. Social drinking or responsible drinking should be adopted and consciously promoted for the kids to see how it should be done.

 

There are other safer ways to “have a good time” other than booze bingeing.

 

Counseling, Therapy and Rehabilitation

If you think you or someone close to you is becoming hooked on heavy drinking for whatever reason, kindly report for therapy and start on rehabilitations in good time. There are several centers and non-profit organizations around us that dedicated to such causes.

 

Even a number of regular clinics and health centers have functional counseling units with active and competent professionals

 

-Image courtesy: pexels.com

 

More Effective and Stringent Regulations

The government, corporate organizations, relevant institutions and agencies have bigger roles to play here. More needs to be done in the areas of more effective regulations, stricter access, and diligent implementations of rules.

 

Many will be quick to say this will be difficult. Yes, I agree. But it can be done if we are willing enough. Nothing good comes easy after all.

 

More Responsible Marketing

From canny subtle marketing to wanton glorification of amoral lifestyles that heap pressures on this vulnerable demographics, the less said of the roles of beverage organizations the better. But being responsible as a social entity should be aspirational for these companies because it is more gratifying than the fleeting glories of higher profit margins from enabling the circumstances that aid this epidemic among the youth.

 

What is the point in destroying the same society where we feed?

 

More “Public Awareness” Campaigns

Finally there is need for some kind of greater information dissemination exercise from government. This can be done through professionally produced public awareness campaigns from government, and supported by some of the organizations directly and indirectly concerned in the various sectors.

 

Such campaigns must be fun but straight to the point. They should be regular and sustained with a dedication strongly noticeable and that can be infectious and effective with the restless mass of Nigerian youth nationwide.

 

Funny thing is: these types of campaigns were plenty in the 80s, whatever happened to deliberate social communication exercise by government agencies addressing key national issues for the greater good?

 

Depression, alcohol, drugs destroy slowly. They damage the present and deny the future. But we can check these by acting quickly and timely. I know it’s difficult, but we have to try.

 

The youth are worth saving, because the future is brighter and better.

 

About The Author

 

Dr. Babatunde Okewale is a UK trained Obstetrician, Gynecologist and a leading fertility expert, heading the St. Ives Healthcare Group in Nigeria.

 

Posted in Blog by Babatunde Okewale