Fertility Expert, Dr. Tunde Okewale Tells Why Male Infertility In Nigeria Is On The Rise

Male infertility around the world is is on the rise by the day and a medical expert, Dr. Babatunde Wale Okewale has shared why it is so among Nigerian men.

Dr. Okewale is a UK trained Consultant Obstetrician –Gynecologist with over 30 years active practice in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, and a leading fertility expert in Nigeria. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UK.

The medical practitioner who is the MD, St. Ives Fertility Clinic, recently had a chat with SunNews in Lagos where he talked extensively on his life as a fertility doctor, lessons life as taught him in the course of dealing with expectant couples and many more.

Excerpts below…

It was reported not long ago that male infertility is on the increase, what is the situation report now and how could it be curbed?

Male infertility is on the rise generally worldwide and Nigeria is no exception. One of the reasons is environmental pollution and exposures to certain pesticides, metals and solvents in many industries and especially in the plastic and printing industries. Smoke from cigarettes and environmental smoke from industries and generating set also affect sperm. Another reason is in the increase of untreated or badly treated STD infections such as Chlamydia.

What can you say about Nigerians’ response to fertility treatment when you started your career and now?

Nigerians have always been aware of the general infertility treatments such as ovulation treatment. Acceptance of assisted conception technology such as IVF and IUI was much slower because people were skeptical of the availability of the procedure in Nigeria and of the success vis a vis the cost. The awareness is more now all over Nigeria. Partly because more IVF centres have been set up all over Nigeria and because of the visible successes achieved. More and more Nigerians and other Africans now come to Nigeria to have their IVF done.

Could you share one memorable moment as a doctor?      

The recent most memorable moment for me is the conception and safe delivery in our unit of the oldest IVF mum at 67 years in Africa and second oldest in the world, in 2018. The other is when we reached the 2000 IVF baby mark last year with a twin baby delivery.

READ ALSO: The Reason for High Rate of Infertility in Nigeria Will Surprise You – Expert Report

What lessons has life taught you as a person in the course of dealing with expectant couples?

I have learnt again and again to always appreciate the ultimate God factor in fertility treatment. I try sometimes to predict which couples will get pregnant easily from the treatment based on how difficult their cases are and I am always humbled and surprised at some outcomes. Our job is to consistently follow our treatment protocols and leave the final outcome decisions to God.

As a fertility doctor, what keeps you going?

The joy as a fertility Doctor is to see couples trying to conceive get pregnant after treatment, and deliver healthy babies. As of the last count, our IVF units in our four locations have over 2000 delivered healthy IVF babies.

Have you always wanted to be a medical doctor; a gynecologist for that matter?

I have always wanted to be a doctor and a gynecologist since my secondary school days. While in secondary school in 1978, the first IVF baby, Louise Brown was born in the UK. It made worldwide news. It was a medical breakthrough, the effect of which can be likened to when man went to moon. There was so much controversy worldwide about the new technology. I was fascinated by the technology and the ensuing controversy and it helped shape my carrier decision.

Did you study medicine in Nigeria?

I qualified as a medical doctor in 1985, at the University  College Hospital, in Ibadan, Oyo State.  I then proceeded to the United Kingdom where I trained as an obstetrician and gynecologist at Leeds , Manchester and Oxford, before returning home after 10 years to set up St. Ives Specialist Hospital in 1996. My specialty is in all matters of infertility.

Why did you embark on establishing the first female radio in Nigeria?

A radio station has always been a lifelong ambition because I came from a family of broadcaster.  My father was a broadcaster with WNTV, OGBC. My sister Toun is a veteran Broadcaster with OGBC, Ray Power FM, Choice FM, UK.  When the means and opportunity came, we grabbed it with both arms to set up the first commercial Women radio station.

READ ALSO: Fertility Expert, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi Shares 14 Tips On How To Overcome The Challenge Of Childlessness

Your dad as a broadcaster, what influence does he have on you?

My parents were middle class, contented, their lifestyle was better than ours. I remember he comes back from work , 3.30/4.30pm, change into his shorts  and goes to Abeokuta Sports Club to play tennis till 7pm and he is back home for the network news at 9pm.

It was s very simple lifestyle. We lacked nothing. We lived in one big community housing in Abeokuta, not the kind of rat race we are living. Their generation was contented. They were not acquisitive in nature. They were not envious. They had a strong impact on us.

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