As 58-year-old woman delivers baby girl
Better late than never' is a saying that aptly describes a 58-year-old woman who has just delivered a baby girl after 30 years of marriage.
When Mrs. Omolara Irurhe got married to her husband, Desmond, in 1983, they had expected that as any normal couple would, in one or two years, they should be carrying their own blessing of marriage a baby.
Three years later, Irurhe still thought nothing of being childless. In fact, she believed that nature was giving her time to prepare for motherhood.
But 10 years after the union, she had yet to conceive even for a day. The couple knew they could no longer leave matters to fate. They had waited long enough, and something urgent, something drastic needed to be done.
Irurhe, a devout Catholic, decided to go the orthodox way in spite of suggestions from friends and acquaintances that she try traditional and herbal alternatives of getting pregnant. With great support from her husband, her very first love, they decided to explore fertility treatments in a top shot hospital in Lagos.
She had her first in-vitro fertility treatment, an assisted method of conception. This was the beginning of a painful, long but worthy journey to motherhood.
Irurhe says, 'It failed, I was discouraged but I still kept hoping for better. I had another round in a London hospital. It still failed. In fact, within seven years, I had three rounds of IVF that failed. I spent so much and I was almost thinking 'why me?' As a principal and a mother to many children, why can't I have my own biological child? I felt dejected.'
After 25 years of a childless marriage, an inspirational story of a fertility challenged 57-year-old woman who conceived through IVF inspired her to give IVF treatment another try.
In 2010, 56-year-old Irurhe and her husband visited the St. Ives Specialist Hospital, Lagos, for another round of IVF. All hope was on this one, she adds, 'I did not achieve any conception, it failed. I was distraught. We had spent a lot! My husband, who was usually supportive, said I should forget about it and let us enjoy our upcoming retirement. We were considering adoption.'
After 30 years of childlessness, six failed IVF procedures, all hope was lost, 58 year-old Irurhe, gave birth to a bouncing baby girl at the St. Ives Specialist Hospital in Lagos on Monday.
The elated mother had this to say to women in their 50s still expecting to conceive, 'Don't give up! What if I hadn't gone for the last IVF treatment? What if I thought I had had enough of the emotional turmoil? I had given up on carrying a child. I was on the verge of adopting, such that I did not even know what the symptoms of pregnancy were when it came. I'm glad I kept trying,' she quips.
Fertility experts say that with recent advancements in medicine, fertility challenged couples can still achieve conception.
Consultant Gynaecologist, Dr. Tunde Okewale, says though the chances of a woman achieving conception either naturally or through IVF and other assisted reproductive procedures reduces as she grows older, it is possible.
Okewale, who is also the Chief Medical Director, St. Ives Specialist Hospital, says Irurhe's conception is still a breakthrough, a feat that happens in medicine every day.
According to him, the chances of a woman having a baby through IVF after age 50 are between zero and 50 per cent. And due to cultural beliefs associated with infertility in Nigeria, most women who need it do not access it early and when they do, they often come late to the hospital.
He warns, 'If you are between 25 and 35 years, your chance of not achieving pregnancy through IVF is 25 per cent; at 35-40 years, it's a 40 per cent chance that it will not work. If you are above 50, then it's zero to 50 per cent chances of failure. That is why it is important for a woman to seek IVF or other assisted reproductive procedures as early as possible.
'I have heard patients say IVF does not work, but we must know that success depends on how early they come. In Nigeria, when a 30-year-old is told that she needs IVF, she would rather go to her pastor or spiritual father and fast and pray to reject it. The longer couples wait, the higher the risk of not achieving conception.'
Okewale, who is also Irurhe's physician, warns again that infertility rate is on the increase in both men and women globally. He had new dimensions to this increasing prevalence in Nigeria.
He says more women are getting married late, infections is on the increase, especially sexually-transmitted ones, due to abuse of antibiotics used to treat these infections and more men are finding it difficult to impregnate their wives.
The specialist said, 'More girls are getting educated and even at the advanced stages, they are getting empowered and they delay getting married to cope with the demands. The earlier a woman gets married and starts having babies, the better for her.
'For men, infection is on the rise and they are not easy to treat because people abuse antibiotics such that when they have the infections and they use antibiotics, it does not work.
'Untreated gonorrhoea causes low sperm count in men. Also, Chlamydia is an infection which has no symptoms; it blocks the fallopian tubes in women and reduces sperm count in men. It is not easily treated when discovered late. I advise people to undergo gynaecological screening at least once a year for early detection.'
Okewale adds that Nigerians are becoming more obese, and that being overweight is a predisposing factor for infertility.
He says, 'Fat in a woman predisposes her to choleretic ovaries, which cause infertility. Fat in men reduces the production of the hormone testosterone, which is crucial to male fertility.'
He advises fertility-challenged couples to undergo the procedure not just as an option but as a solution.