For couples with infertility issues, especially those in Nigeria, trying for a child through assisted reproductive technology treatments comes at a high emotional and financial cost.
We spoke to specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr. Kamila Musefiu-Olalekan about the cost of fertility treatments in Nigeria. She debunks some misconceptions and provides multiple treatment options.
What’s a common misconception about fertility?
As a society, we place the burden of infertility on women. This is wrong. While in 40% of infertility cases, it’s the woman with the fertility issue, that’s the same percentage for men. In the remaining 20% of cases, both partners have a fertility problem.
It’s also important that couples know that before they brand themselves infertile, they must have been having regular unprotected sex at least three to four times a week for a year. I’ve had a patient worry that she wasn’t pregnant two months after the wedding. In reality, only 50% of couples achieve pregnancy within six months of getting married.
How much does fertility treatment cost in Nigeria?
The cost varies based on location, but a cycle can run from ₦600,000 to ₦1 million. While some couples only need one cycle, others require multiple cycles to conceive. Some don’t conceive at all even after multiple cycles. There are variations of infertility treatment, and they sometimes incur an extra charge.
Variation A: Couple needs an egg donor
For older women who have fewer active eggs to release during ovulation, getting an egg donor is imperative. Women over 40 doing the fertility treatment can get younger women’s eggs, fertilise them with their husband’s sperm and hope for a baby.
Sometimes a family member donates. Other times, the hospital vets and provides the donor.
*Egg donations can cost anything from ₦100,000 to ₦150,000, depending on the couple’s negotiation power.
Variation B: Couple needs a sperm donor
In cases where the man has the fertility issue, the hospital can take samples of the man’s sperm, select the best ones and fertilise the wife’s eggs. This is done in a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
In cases where the man is unable to produce sperm, the couple will need to get a sperm donor. The sperm sample collected will be used to fertilise the wife’s eggs. Sperm donations go from ₦20,000 to ₦70,000, depending on the location.
Variation C: Couple needs both sperm and egg donors
In situations where both the man and woman have fertility problems, they are advised to get a sperm and egg donor. Once fertilised, the egg is carefully placed inside the woman, and she carries the baby to term.
While some couples get donations from family and friends, others prefer to use strangers. This decision influences the cost of fertility treatment.
Variation D: Couple needs a surrogate mother
In cases where the woman cannot carry a baby to full term, the couple will need a surrogate. This is popular with older couples and celebrities.
Surrogates, usually paid a base fee and monthly allowances, could cost as much as ₦3,000,000 for the duration of the pregnancy.
Variation E: Couple need counselling
There are cases where neither the man nor the woman needs fertility treatment, but both require counselling to quell their anxieties around conceiving.
A lot more people might give fertility treatment a chance if the shame around it reduces. But the stigma around it leaves no room for open, healthy, and honest conversations. That has to change.