By Staff Reporter. 6h ago
“There’s a stigma about it - particularly in black culture. You can’t talk to your father about it because your father has another plan, which is to get another wife. You feel isolated, you feel lonely. Infertility is still regarded as taboo in South Africa and a lot of couples still experience terrible shame around it,” he said.So Zwane and his wife were delighted when they were invited to be included in Africa’s first Fertility Show Africa (FSA), which takes place on March 6-7, with medical experts and others who have walked the journey, including an award-winning filmmaker and an NGO from Uganda.
“We wish we had something like this when we were undergoing our journey,” says Zwane.There were so few resources available during their journey they founded the organisation Hannah - You Are Not Alone to help other couples.
It is estimated infertility in Africa affects one in six couples, which means in southern Africa alone there are 8million people who suffer. And yet there are still taboos and stigmas surrounding the subject.
Says Zwane: “Depression and loss took the hope out of us and we suffered the perceived shame of infertility. Couples need to get crucial information for their journey from reputable professionals. It’s all about information, information, information. When struggling with infertility, ignorance is not bliss, it’s expensive.
“It’s also imperative that those suffering from infertility meet those who have gone through the same experiences. It helps you to keep believing in miracles when you hear of other people’s success stories.”
The show will offer those struggling to conceive, and those on a journey to parenthood, the opportunity to engage with specialists and experts and be exposed to every conceivable alternative in a supportive and unobtrusive environment.
Also appearing is award-winning film-maker and entrepreneur Molatelo Mainetje-Bossman, who has spoken through her film When Babies Don’t Come, which documents her 10-year struggle with infertility. The film has not only inspired many people, but has given a voice to many men and women with the same condition.
“Infertility affects more people than we think. Because it’s such a stigmatised condition, many would rather die in silence than seek medical assistance. Infertility is one of most misunderstood medical conditions, especially in black communities where only women take the blame. I am determined to explore and break the silence on infertility in these areas,” said Mainetje-Bossman.
The support group, Vessel is Me, from Uganda will also be at FSA. Denise Kekimuri said she is delighted South Africa is hosting a dedicated fertility show: “South Africa has advanced technologies most people don’t know about. In order to create awareness, it’s a conversation that Africans need to have not just South Africans.
“This topic has been shunned by societies on the continent. It’s paramount to have a platform to deal with the issues of infertility - the physical, emotional and spiritual struggles - and to let people know that it can be handled and that there are many options - such as surrogacy. That’s what this event is for, to bring the conversation to the forefront between the medical practitioners and those couples and parents dealing with fertility issues, as well society in general to be informed about the underlying issues in fertility.
“IVF in our African setting isn’t common or even talked about; it’s looked at as ‘playing God’. One of the biggest challenges within the IVF journey is the emotional battle. People tend to become so disoriented because it can be such an invasion of privacy. But having the conversations helps to demystify the confusion and lack of knowledge surrounding IVF. There’s no such thing as too much information.”
Dr Olufemi Olarogun, who is well-known in Cape Town for his years of work and commitment to reproductive medicine in the private and public health sectors, said: “It is important because of the depth and impact of fertility issues, as well as the depth of knowledge that we now have regarding fertility which is vast. Events like these are fantastic as we have a platform where we can inform men and women how to prevent or treat infertility.”
The Fertility Show Africa takes place on March 6-7 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. FSA is supported by the Infertility Awareness Association of SA and the SA Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy.
For more info: www.fertilityshow africa.co.za Fertility Show Africa