Empowering stigmatized infertile women

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Empowering stigmatized infertile women
Empowering stigmatized infertile women

Africa-PressLesotho. The stigma of infertility contributes to people hiding information about their diagnosis from friends, family and delaying or avoiding treatment. This stigma may also strain relationships and take a psychological

toll on individuals. There is a need to empower such women accordingly despite the cause of their infertility. To acquire more on causes of infertility, its stigma as well as ways in which infertile women can be

empowered psychologically, Informative Newspaper had an exclusive interview with a Registered Nurse Midwife: Tšabelo Sefume who indicated that the reality of

infertility is neither the woman nor the mans’ fault. She stated that, in many cases, identifying the cause of a couple’s failure or struggle to have children

is hard and in cases where a root cause can be recognized, it is impossible to know what caused it. She noted that all children are miracles whether their

parents went through rigorous fertility treatments or not. She also added that it is fortunate that in this new era, there are many options with technology

innovated for couples trying to conceive. According to Sefume, it is often women who are mostly stigmatized by their communities; they are shamed and named barren.

In instances where there are public activities hosted by women; it would be said that such a woman does not have a baby yet she has been married for years, it would also be said that she miscarried several times: thereby

relating her failure to conceive to inappropriate behavior of having abortions before she was married. She added that in cases where there are cultural plays

(litolobonya) a woman without a baby is not allowed to participate or even attend. Sefume extended that when

it comes to in laws; they often compare the woman with other women who already have children or with their new daughters in law (Makoti) that had babies

before her. The nurse emphasised that such saying add a lot of pressure and pain on the woman because that means her feelings are neglected. She added that

it is very hard to counsel a woman who cannot have children, as she feels unsupported by those who are supposed to be her number one pillars of strength.

Sefume opined that sometimes husbands or partners end up cheating on their wives with the excuse that they are in search for a baby since the wife cannot give him

one; “this leads to conflicts and no peace in their families”. She stated that such women often feel like they are of no use to the community. Sefume expressed that when

they discover that these women keep failing to conceive, they advise them to go for counseling. “When they come, we help them read their menstrual cycle period

and tell them the right time to practice unprotected sex; this whole process encourages them to keep on trying. We also encourage psychotherapy since the whole thing causes stress; these is

where we let them talk about their feeling-as we know stress can inhibit the menstrual cycle hence inability to conceive when someone is stressed. “In cases where the

problem is an anatomical factor, we influence certain sex positions, when we discover that the problem that does not permit her to conceive, we still do

psychotherapy along this procedure: we speak to the couple, tell them the real thing, let them accept their situation, introduce and guide them if they are

interested in adopting, again, we guide them in accepting the fact that they cannot have a baby. The psychotherapy process makes it a lot better for them as

they feel acknowledged and accepted by us as we feel their pain and walk their journey. We also urge them to be patient while trying for a baby, we prescribe

healthy diet and exercise for both the women and the men and some couples end up conceiving when they adapt to that routine”, Sefume said. She extended that

during therapy, they encourage couples to use a particular sex position, do ultrasounds to check uterus anatomy, do sperm count in men to check if the man

has the required sperms and semen for transporting. Sefume also suggested that a woman may stigmatize herself even if the community or family does not defame

her, therefore they also give such women skills to deal and approach their communities. She articulated that the stigma of being labeled ‘infertile’ is not something

anyone wants. “Sometimes couples will disclose and discuss their difficulties of reproducing with friends and family however, some couples want to avoid the

stigma associated with infertility and will keep their difficulties to themselves. Either way, the only way to reduce the stigma attached to infertility is to encourage the conversation and to educate and empower couples when they are facing difficulties with conceiving,” Sefume advised.

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