Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Causes and Intervention Strategies of Male Infertility: A Case Study of Mhondoro-Ngezi, Zimbabwe

Stanzia Moyo, Itai Muhwati


The subject of male infertility has, to a large extent, been broached from a western perspective that often insists on the biological factor. This approach has led to a narrowed and narrowing perception of male infertility in that it often neglects other possible crucial socio-cultural dimensions pertaining to the issue.  The study is purely qualitative.  Focus group discussions and key informant interviews (with males and females) are used to collect qualitative data. The study notes that, unlike in western inclined discourses, male infertility is an intricate condition that transcends biology. Witchcraft and punishment either from God or angry ancestors were avowed to be the determinants of male infertility. The study notes that the Shona people in MhondoroNgezi exclusively rely on socio-cultural intervention strategies to solve the problem of male infertility. The study thus recommends a holistic approach to male infertility which integrates the socio-cultural perspectives in policy and programming, if progress is to be made in unearthing the underlying causes and treatment options.  (Afr J Reprod Health 2013; 17[2]: 89-101).


Le sujet de stérilité masculine a  été abordé,  dans une grande  mesure, à travers une  perspective occidentale qui insiste souvent sur le facteur biologique. Cette approche a conduit à une perception réduite et le rétrécissement de l'infertilité masculine en ce qu'elle néglige souvent d'autres possibles cruciaux dimensions socioculturelles relatives à la question. L'étude est purement qualitative. Des groupes de discussion et des entrevues avec des informateurs clés (mâles et femelles) sont utilisés pour recueillir des données qualitatives. L'étude note que, contrairement à l'ouest discours inclinés, l'infertilité masculine est une condition complexe qui transcende la biologie. La sorcellerie et la punition soit de Dieu ou des ancêtres en colère ont avoué être les déterminants de l'infertilité masculine. L'étude souligne le fait que le peuple Shona dans Mhondoro-Ngezi basées exclusivement sur des stratégies d'intervention socioculturelles pour résoudre le problème de l'infertilité masculine. L'étude recommande donc une approche holistique de l'infertilité masculine qui intègre les perspectives socioculturelles dans les politiques et les programmes, si des progrès doivent être accomplis dans déterrer les causes sous-jacentes et les options de traitement. (Afr J Reprod Health 2013; 17[2]: 89-101).


Keywords: male infertility, ancestors, culture, treatment, intervention strategy, Mhondoro-Ngezi

Full Text:



Simmons FA. Human Infertility, New English Journal of Medicine 1956; 255: 1140-1192.

Mbizvo M. The Male Factor in Human Infertility (Thesis

M.A), Harare: University of Zimbabwe, 1985.

Zargar AH, et al., Epidemiologic and Etiologic Aspects of Primary Infertility in the Kashmir Region of India, Journal of Fertility and Sterility 1997; 68: 637-643.

Nederberger CA, et al. Male infertility. In Litwin M.S. and Saigal, C.S. editors. Urologic Diseases in America. Washington D.C: Government Printing office, 2007.

Annirudha News Paper Article. Why Infertility is a much th bigger Problem in Africa and India 2008; 18


Belsey MA. The Epidemiology of Infertility: A review with Particular Reference to Sub-Saharan Africa, Bulletin of WHO 1977; 54(3): 319-341.

Leke JHI. The Prevalence of Infertility and its Prevention Measures in Sub-Saharan Africa, New York:

Routledge, 2007.

Madziba E. 2008, African infertility Alliance. SubGroup of International Consumer Support for Infertility, th

Quaterly News Letter, 19 September 2008. 9. Mbizvo M. Aetiological Factors of Male Infertility in Zimbabwe, Central African Journal of Medicine 1984; 30, 233-238.

Cates W, et al. Worldwide Patterns of Infertility: Is Africa Different? Lancet 1985; 2 (8455): 596-598.

Cheung V. Male Infertility. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine 2006; 1: 51-62.

Inhorn MC. Local Babies, Global Science: Gender, Religion and In Vitro fertilization in Egypt, New

York: Routledge, 2003.

Ikechebelu JI, et al. High Prevalence of Male Infertility in South Eastern Nigeria, Journal of Obstetrical Gynaecology 2003; 23: 651-659.

Bayasgalan G, et al. Clinical Patterns and Major Causes of Infertility in Mangolia, Journal of Obstetric Gynecology 2004; 30; 386-393.

Inhorn MC. Infertility and Patriarchy: The Cultural Politics of Gender and Family Life in Egypt,

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. 16. Sundby J, et al. Infertility in Gambia: Frequency and Health Care Seeking, Social Science Medicine 1998; 46, 891-899.

Dyer G, et al. You are a Man Because You Have Children: Experience, Reproductive Health Knowledge and Treatment Seeking Behaviour among

Men Suffering from Infertility in South Africa, Human Reproduction 2004; 14, 960-966.

Madziba E. 2009, African infertility Alliance. SubGroup of International Consumer Support for Infertility, th

Quarterly News Letter, 20 June 2008.

Brown L. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,

Oxford: Claredon Press, 1993.

Gelfand M. The Genuine Shona, Gweru: Mambo Press,

Gelfand M. Medicines and Magic of the Shona, Gweru:

Mambo Press, 1956.

Lloyd M. Condemned to be Meaningful: Non-Response in Studies of men and infertility, Journal of Sociology and Health Matters 1996; 18, 433-454.

Runganga AO, et al. Culture, Identity and Reproductive Failure in Zimbabwe, Sexualities 2001; 4 (3), 315332.

Inhorn MC. Sexuality, Masculinity and Infertility in Egypt. Potent troubles in the Marital and Medical Encounters, The Journal of Men’s Studies 2002; 10, 343-359.

Kuku S.F. and Osegbe N.Oligolazoospermia in Nigeria,Achives of Andrology 1979; 3: 233-237.

Irvine DS. Epidemiology and Aetiology of Male Infertility, Journal of Human Reproduction 1998; 13(1): 33-44.

Norris S. 2001 Reproductive Infertility: Prevalence, Causes, Trends and Treatments, Oxford: University


Mehta M, et al. Prevalence of Oligozoospermia and azoospermia in Male partners of Infertile Couples from Different Parts of India, Asian Journal of Andrology 2006; 18 (1), 89-93.

Zhu J, et al. Infertility, Infertility Treatment and Congenital Malformations: Danish Birth Cohort, British Medical Journal 2006; 333 (7570): 679.

Schiff JD, et al. Medical and Surgical Management of Male Infertility, Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinical in North America 2007; 36(2) 313-331.

Alberto F. Male Infertility, Journal of Reproductive Biomedicines 2007; 14 (6) 734-745.

Emokpae MA, et al. Male Infertility and Endocrinopathies in Kano, North Western Nigeria, Journal of Annals of African Medicine 2007; 6(2):64-67. 33. Elussein EA et al. Clinical Patterns and Major Causes of Infertility Among Sudanese Couples, Tropical Doctor 2008; 38: 243-244.

Yeboah ED, et al. Etiological Factors of Male Infertility in Africa, International Journal of Fertility 1992; 37: 300-307.

Okonofua FE, et al. Lower Genital Tract Infections in Infertile Nigerian Women Compared to Controls, Journal of Genitourinary Medicine 1995; 3: 163-168.

Laursen U. Primary and Secondary Infertility in SubSaharan Africa, International Journal of Epidemiology 2000; 23: 285-291.

Mascie-Taylor CGN. Endemic Disease, Nutrition and

Fertility in Developing Countries, Journal of Biological and Social Science 1992, (24 (3) 355-365.

Smith EM. Occupational Exposure and Risk of Female Infertility, Journal of Environmental Medicine 2005; 39 (2): 138-147.

Mendiola L, et al. Exposure to Environmental Toxins in Males Seeking Infertility Treatment, A Case Control Study. Journal of Reproductive Bio-Medicine 2008; 16 (6) 842-850.

Norris S. Reproductive Infertility: Prevalence, Causes, Trends and Treatments, Oxford: University Press, 2001.

Laurenti M. African Religion, New York: Orbis Books

Limited, 1997.

Ani M. An African–Centred Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behaviour, Trenton: Africa

World Press, 1997.

DeCoppens P.R. A Theory of Human Nature and a Model of the Psyche: A Holistic Approach, 2010. accessed on

July 10, 2010,

decoppens/engl/A_THEORY_OF_HUMAN_NATUR E.htm


  • There are currently no refbacks.