The Impact Of Infertility On Women’s Life Experiences In Two Nigerian Communities
This study investigated the impact of infertility on women’s life experiences in two Nigerian communities. The study was conducted between November 2017 and May 2018. Six research questions and two hypotheses were formulated. The research design used was sample survey descriptive design. The quantitative and qualitative instruments used for data collection are Questionnaire and In-depth Interview guide respectively. The sampling techniques used for this study was multi stage sampling technique. Four hundred (400) questionnaires were shared randomly among the selected respondents. Three hundred and seventy questionnaires was retrieved, the data collected was processed using SPSS software. The statistical tool used to analyze is computerized statistical package for social science and the chi- square formulae was used in testing the research hypotheses. From the analysis of the data, the major findings among others include; sickness and diseases is the major cause of Infertility, there is a negative attitude of childless couples towards child adoption and surrogacy as a solution to their problem. Childless couple also suffer stigmatization, depression, labeling, abuse, disrespectful attitude from spouse and family members In view of these findings, the study recommend among others that: mass enlightenment of the public could help increase the knowledge of the causes of Infertility among couples and also reduce feeling of inferiority complex among childless couples. Childless couples should seek for medical treatment jointly.
1.1 Background to the Study
There is increasing recognition in the social science literature that infertility is a devastating problem for women, particularly in the high-fertility context of sub-Saharan Africa. Regardless of the medical causes of infertility, women in most African societies suffer grief, social stigma, ostracism and often serious economic deprivation. A previous article demonstrated that these hardships vary across different cultural contexts, given that institutional settings influence the meanings and consequences of the condition. In that paper the focus was on these settings in two southern Nigerian communities and a number of particularly salient differences between the two communities in their impact on community responses to infertile women were documented.
The communities are Amakiri (pseudonym), an Ijo community in Delta State, and Lopon (pseudonym), a Yakurr community in Cross River State. The major difference between these localities is that descent in Amakiri is patrilineal, traced through the father’s side, whereas in Lopon it is double unilineal, traced through both parents’ sides. In addition, high levels of infertility are historically documented in Lopon , whereas infertility levels in Amakiri are relatively low . The findings indicated that based on these differences, responses to infertility were considerably more negative in Amakiri than in Lopon.
In the current paper, the focus is first on the experiences of individual women with infertility, derived from in-depth life history interviews in each community, and second, using survey data, these life experiences are compared with those of their fertile counterparts. Specifically, how the differences in the lineage structure in the two communities impact on the childless and subfertile women’s experiences in their marital and interpersonal relations and socioeconomic activities are documented.
In this way, the study distinguishes between women who are childless and those with subfertility and compares them with high-fertility women. It is hypothesized that the experiences of women who are childless or have subfertility in Lopon will be less negative than of those in Amakiri, given the differences in the institutional settings and the historically evolved symbolic meaning of the infertile condition.
The purpose of this study is to explore the phase women endure from being childless and to highlight some of the complexities underpinning Infertility and its impacts on married couple, and family in Amakiri and Lopon communities and also to gain deeper insight into how women incorporated this experience into their lives and relationships and how they began to create a future life without their own biological children.
Based on the trends of Infertility in Nigeria, this project has been undertaken to ascertain the extent of peoples’ perception on the impact of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Nigeria using Amakiri and Lopon communities, Nigeria as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The number of childless couples is tremendously on the increase, According to Ugwuanyi (2000), this is evident to the fact that attempts to initiate a move which would have been directed towards adoption is taken with serious resistance in some places like Nigeria mostly by couples without even a child.
According to Dike (2013) most couples are childless as a result of the degree of their waywardness when they were young or during their youthful age and unmarried, such as illicit use of drugs in order to avoid pregnancy, smoking of cigrates, cocaine, and marijuana e.t.c.
The World Health Organization (2014) stated that involuntary childless couples suffer from Infertility for so many reason such as drug abuse, hard drugs intake, contraception, numerous abortions, and genetically inherited sickness that could lead to low sperm count and most cases psychological problems.
According to Nwapa (2004), some couples attribute to their problem of Infertility to the supernatural, the hope in God that gives children to remember them at the appropriate time while some couples usually fall back to their fetish lifestyle consulting their gods to seek solutions to their problem or appealing their gods as a means to cleanse them from such predicament. Nwapa also outline that Infertility can also be seen as consequences from the gods when an abomination or taboo has been committed, there can also be death of existing children rendering the involuntary childless couples childless (Nwapa 2004).
Involuntary childless couples faces a lot of problems and discrimination, from the society due to the fact that the involuntary childless couples cannot procreate but in the same vein the society also suffer 30% of this Infertility problem, there will be low manpower and fluctuating number of people in the workforce and the social structure will not function properly (Hales 2000).
The researcher carried out a survey to find out the factors that generate Infertility, origin of Infertility in Amakiri and Lopon communitiesand people’s perception about Infertility and its effects, and implication on women in Nigeria using Amakiri and Lopon communities Nigeria as a case study with the view of proffering solution by ways of recommendation and intervention.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions have been put forward to guide this study.
- What are the causes of Infertility in Amakiri and Lopon communities?
- What are the social implications of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities?
- What are the cultural implications of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities?
- What are the psychological implications of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities?
- What are the perceptions of the public towards childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities?
- What are the solutions to Infertility problem inAmakiri and Lopon communities?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the impacts of Infertility on married couple in Amakiri and Lopon communities of Delta and Cross River state, respectively.
Specifically, the following objectives will be treated:
- To find out what are the major causes of Infertility in Amakiri and Lopon communities
- To indentify the social implication of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities
- To indentify the cultural implication of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities
- To find out the perception of people towards Infertility in Amakiri and Lopon communities
- To proffer possible solutions on how to eradicate Infertility problem in Amakiri and Lopon communities.
1.5 Significance of Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance.
Theoretically, the study will provide the perceptions of people towards childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities. The study will provide the basic materials which the researcher in this topic will find valuable. This study will add to the existing body of knowledge on medical sociology. It will create room for further research on the socio-cultural impact of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in other areas. It will also provide relevant data on how Infertility creates problems in the family and Amakiri and Lopon communities at large. It will help to expand their knowledge on the concept and impact of Infertility on involuntary childless couples in Amakiri and Lopon communities and beyond. It will also provide materials for researchers to anchor their studies and also provide them with relevant literatures for analysis and review of relevant literature for analysis and review.
Practically, the study will be of great relevance to students of sociology. The study will provide useful information that can be used by health care providers. The research work is of importance to the researcher as it is a basic requirement for the award of a university Bachelor of Science degree Findings of this study will provide useful information that will shade more light on the difficulties encountered by childless couple and proffer possible solutions to this problem.
1.6 Scope of Study
This research work is on the impact of infertility on women’s life experiences in two Nigerian communities. The study aims at ascertaining people’s opinions and perception about the impact of Infertility on married couple. The geographical scope of this study is Amakiri and Lopon communities located in Delta and Cross River respectively.
1.7 Definition of Terms
The voluntary acceptance of a child of other parents to be the same as one’s own child through legal term.
The absence of children in a family resulting from the inability to conceive a child by married couple or death of existing children.
This refers to a man and woman united and legally bounded in marriage.
This refers to the act of conceiving; the fertilization of an ovum by a sperm to form a zygote.
The arts, customs, beliefs, values, behavior and material objects that constitute peoples’ way of life.
The condition, or the degree of being fertile
The inability to conceive after a period of 12 months of uncontrollable and unprotected sexual intercourse.
Descent in a line from a common progenitor; descending line of offspring or ascending line of parentage.
The physical activity of sex played by involuntary childless couples in order for them to produce children or offspring.
Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Summary of Research Findings
Major findings of this research are given as follow:
Sickness and diseases is one major factor that is responsible for Infertility in Amakiri and Lopon communities. Women infertility is the major cause of infertility among childless couples.
Social consequences faced by childless couples are stigmatization, disrespectful attitude from spouse and family. Childless couples are also denied the opportunities to perform certain cultural practices.
There is a relationship between spirituality and Infertility, and because of this, they tend to believe that anything that happens in the physical has been established in the spiritual.
Respondents in the study area are predominantly farmers who hardly meet up with their basic needs due to low income level and therefore, most of them cannot afford the medical bills in solving the problem of Infertility.
Few respondents see a different impact of Infertility on childless couples reason being that couples that got married for the sake of companionship will not really feel the absence of children but couple that got married for the sake of procreation will greatly feel the absence of children.
This research has been able to X-ray empirically the impact of Infertility on married couple in Amakiri and Lopon communities, Delta and Cross River state, respectively. Based on the findings of the study, it can be perceived that there is a negative impact of Infertility on involuntary childless couples and fewer number of respondents see positive impact of Infertility on married couple.
In the light of the above findings, the following recommendations are proffered:
- Based on my findings, one of the perceived causes of Infertility is infertility and it has stigmatization as the major consequence which makes the lives of the childless couple bitter. Therefore, averting the stigmatization problem calls for the attention of the federal government and responsible bodies to exert a great deal of effort in creating awareness on the medical causes and treatments of infertility.
- Mass enlightenment of the public could help increase the knowledge of the causes of infertility among involuntary childless couples and also reduce feeling of inferiority complex among childless couples.
- Childless couples should seek for medical treatment jointly.
- The study also found out that most of the childless women have financial problems to receive medical treatments. Government should give due attention in developing short term plans and programs that create affordable and accessible medical treatments for infertility and that guarantee old age security for the socially disadvantaged elderly childless women.
5.4 Limitations of the Study
In the course of undertaking this study, the researcher experienced some limitations. Firstly, finance was a challenge resulting from the cost of transportation to the different communities for the distribution of the questionnaires. Secondly, on the part of the respondents some of them accepted to fill the questionnaires readily while some initially expressed reluctance in filling up the questionnaires because they were afraid it might be used against them. After adequate explanation was provided by the researcher and her assistants that it is strictly for research purpose they complied although a few respondents insisted that the questionnaires be left with them for later collection. Even when the questionnaires were to be collected from them some were not ready with theirs and others started filling them in the presence of the researcher. Despite the challenges the exercise was reasonably successful.
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