Perceptions of Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization Treatment among Married Couples in Anambra State, Nigeria

Nneka I. Okafor, Ngozi N. Joe-Ikechebelu, Joseph I. Ikechebelu


There is a high rate of infertility among couples in Nigeria. This challenge is perceived differently in each socio-cultural context in which it is experienced but solution to the problem is adversely affected by the people‘s perception of the phenomenon. This study thus explored the perceptions of infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) and how to enhance the use of IVF treatment among married couples. This was a cross-sectional survey in Anambra State, Nigeria involving household respondents (married couples) and hospital respondents (couples undergoing infertility evaluation). Structured questionnaire and key informant interview (KII) guide were used for data collection. Altogether 600 questionnaires were administered and 589 were validly completed and analysed. The main outcome measures included perceptions of infertility and IVF treatment, utilization of IVF treatment and association between some demographic variables and IVF utilization. The results showed that infertility was perceived majorly as - destiny/supernatural powers (17.1%), threat to men‘s procreativity/continuity of lineage (14.3%), women‘s problem only (15.6%). Solutions to the challenges were adversely affected by perception. The use of IVF treatment was low with misconceptions like it‘s too costly (15.4%) and unnatural (7.6%), giving rise to unmet need for assisted reproductive technology. Women (especially above 35 years) were more likely to accept IVF treatment than men. Reproductive health education and awareness creation should target the misconceptions about infertility/IVF and fertility treatment should be covered by national health insurance to reduce the cost of IVF treatment and improve its use in Anambra State. (Afr J Reprod Health 2017; 21[4]:55-66).

Full Text:



Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook:

Nigerian people. Retrieved November 11, 2013. from

National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). Nigeria

development and health survey 2008, Abuja: NPC

Okwelogu IS, Azuike EC, Ikechebelu JI and Nnebue CKC.

In Vitro Fertilization practice: Awareness and perceptions among women attending fertility clinics in Okija, Anambra State, Nigeria. AFRIMEDIC Journal. 2012; 3, (2): 6

Ajayi RA. A decade of IVF in Nigeria: Our joy, their

challenges. THISDAY ONLINE, 2013; April 20, Pp 7. Retrieved October 19, 2013 from;

Ashiru AO. Nigeria health sector requires complete

revolution. The Guardian online publications, 2013. August 30, Pp 6.

Okewale T. Changing IVF‘s elitist veneer. THISDAY

ONLINE, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013 from

Ikechebelu JI. Prevalence of gynaecological diseases in

Nnewi Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of clinical Practice. 2005: 8(2): 136 – 137.

Infertility: Facts, Disease Prevention and Treatment

Strategies, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2013, from; .

American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

Definitions of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. Fertility & Sterility. 2008; 89, 1603

Vayena E, Rowe PJ, Griffin PD, Daar AS and Merali Z.

Infertility and social suffering: The case for ART in developing countries. In Vayena, E, Rowe PJ, Griffin PD, eds. Current Practices and Controversies in Assisted Reproduction. Report of a Meeting on Medical, Ethical and Social Aspects of Assisted Reproduction. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. 2002; p. 15-21

Okonofua FE. Female and Male infertility in Nigeria.

University Press. Ibadan, Nigeria. 2005; p. 9

Ikechebelu JI. Assisted reproduction techniques (ART): The

state of art in Nigeria. Journal of College of Medicine. 2003; 8(1):1–6

Inhorn MC. ―The Local‖ confronts the ―Global‖: Infertile

bodies and new reproductive technologies in Egypt. In Inhorn, M.C & van Balen, F. (eds.), Infertility around the globe: A new thinking on childlessness and reproductive technologies, London: University of California Press, 2002; 263-282

Smith CA, Sheryl de Lacey, Chapman M, Ratcliffe J,

Norman RJ, Neil J, Boothroyd C, et al. Acupuncture to improve live birth rates for women undergoing in vitro fertilization: A protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials Journal. 2012; Retrieved November 3, 2013 from

CDC and ASRM/SART. Assisted reproductive technology

success rate: National summary and fertility clinic reports.US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). Atlanta, GA: CDC. 2008.

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

(ESHRE). Task Force on Ethics and Law 15: Cross-border reproductive care. Human Reprod, 2009a; 23: 2182-2184

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

(ESHRE). Focus on Reproduction. Grimbergen, Belgium: ESHRE. 2008.

Ajayi R A. Focus on IVF Business in Nigeria. Market Place

Africa. CNN, 2012.

Wada I. Factors that determine IVF success rate. Retrieved

October 2, 2013 from 2013.

Giwa-Osagie OF. ART in developing countries with a

particular reference to sub-Saharan Africa, in: Vayena E, Rowe PJ and Griffin PD.(eds.) Current Practices and Controversies in Assisted Reproduction, Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. 2002.

Ashiru AO. Fertility fraud. Daily Sun 6(2343): 2012, April

Solaja G. 60-year-old woman gives birth in Lagos ...After

-year wait. Nigerian Tribune 2014, June 19.

First IVF Birth in Anambra State. FIDES Newspaper. 2011;

Sept 17-30 vol. 18 no. 18

Onuoha D. Anambra Records First IVF Baby. Christian

Outlook. 2011; Vol. 10 No 7 Sept: 24.

Ifeduba NC. First IVF Baby Delivered in Anambra. Pilot

Newspaper. 2011;

Ikechebelu JI IVF births in Anambra State.

(unpublished data from Life Fertility Centre record at Life Specialist Hospital Nnewi). Dec. 2016

Kuwabara T, Yamaguchi K. An Introduction to the

Sociological Perspective of Symbolic interactionism (Revised Edition). Journal of Economics and Sociology, Kagoshima University, 2013; 80, 119

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family,

Symbolic Interactionism. 2003. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from htpp://

Plummer, 1975 as cited in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia, Symbolic Interactionism. 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014 from

Stryker S and Vryan KD. The Symbolic Interactionist

Framework in Delamater, J. (eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003; 3-28

National Population Commission (NPC). Population and

housing census of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Abuja: National population bureau 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2013 from

Ali S, Raafay S, Imam AM, Khan FI, Ali SF, Shaikh A and

Farid-ul-Hasnain S. Knowledge, perceptions and myths regarding infertility among selected adult population in Pakistan: A cross-sectional study. Biomedcentral (BMC) Public Health, 2011; 11, 760. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-760

Ikechebelu JI, Adinma JIB, Orie EF and Ikegwuonu SO.

High prevalence of male infertility in south-eastern Nigeria. Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2003; 23(6): 657 – 659.

Umeora OUJ, Igberase GO, Okogbenin SA and Obu ID.

Cultural misconceptions and emotional burden of infertility in South East Nigeria. The Internet Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 2009; 10 (2).

Ajayi RA. Most people are ignorant about IVF services.

Daily Trust, 2014; April 16.

Jegede AS and Fayemiwo AS. Cultural and ethical

challenges of assisted reproductive technologies in the management of infertility among the Yoruba of South Western Nigeria. African Journal of Reproductive Health, 2010; 14(2): 115-127

Widge A. Socio-cultural attitudes towards infertility and

assisted reproduction in India. in: Vayena E, Rowe PJ, Griffin PD.(eds.), Current practices and controversies in assisted reproduction. Geneva Switzerland: WHO, 2002; 60-74

Pennings G. Ethical issues of infertility treatment in

developing countries. London: OUP. 2008.


  • There are currently no refbacks.