February is Reproductive Health Month in South Africa

Every year, February is observed as Reproductive Health Month in South Africa, aimed at raising awareness about many crucially important issues surrounding reproductive health.

At Cape Fertility, we are passionate about reproductive health, and proudly add our voice to raising awareness of people’s right to reproductive health, as well as the health care services and medical treatments available for those who are experiencing difficulties with their reproductive health. We work together with leading organisations to raise awareness of what reproductive health is, and the many treatments available for those couples facing fertility challenges.

In this article, we take a closer look at what “reproductive health” entails and some of the causes of reproductive health problems; meet some of the other role players in raising awareness of these issues; and find out what to do if you are concerned about your reproductive health.

What is reproductive health?

Reproductive health is a broad topic that implies that every person:

* has a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life;
* has the capability to reproduce;
* has the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to reproduce.

This means that both men and women have the right to:

* be informed of safe, effective, affordable, and acceptable methods of fertility regulation;
* have access to the method of fertility regulation of their choice;
* access to appropriate health care services to enable a woman to safely carry a pregnancy and go through childbirth, to provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.

Unfortunately, for both men and women, there are many issues that can negatively impact reproductive health and the ability to have children, or infertility. The most common causes of infertility in women are ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, fibroids and fallopian tube problems, as well as advanced maternal age (35+). Few people realise that when it comes to fertility, age does matter. After age 35, a woman’s fertility declines rapidly, while the chance of abnormalities and miscarriages increases exponentially.

There are also many possible causes of male infertility such as sterilization or vasectomies, spinal cord injuries, erection or ejaculatory dysfunction, medical conditions, medications and sexually transmitted diseases.

In both men and women, poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking and being overweight, can also negatively affect reproductive health.

Fortunately, there are as many treatments for infertility as there are causes, ranging from lifestyle changes to simple treatments such as artificial insemination and to highly advanced therapies such as IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

What is Reproductive Health Month?

Reproductive Health Month is an opportunity to raise awareness not only about what reproductive health is and what people’s rights are in terms of their reproductive health, but also of the many and diverse possible causes of infertility, as well as all the possible treatment options available to the many couples who face challenges with their reproductive health in today’s modern world.

It also allows us to spread the message that the assessment and treatment of couples with fertility problems is best done by fertility specialists who are registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as well as with the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG). Visit the SASREG website sasreg.co.za to check if the fertility clinic you are considering is registered.

SASREG is one of the organisations that Cape Fertility works closely with when it comes to raising awareness of infertility issues, the possible causes and the many potential treatments available.

In Reproductive Health Month, SASREG also endeavours to highlight the critical importance of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (endoscopy is a procedure in which an instrument is introduced into the body to give a view of its internal parts) to reproductive health in South Africa. It also works to advance reproductive health in South Africa through the advancement of clinical care, training and research in reproductive medicine and gynaecological endoscopy.

Cape Fertility is not only registered and accredited with SASREG, we are also very proud that our chairman, Dr Sulaiman Heylen, serves as the President of SASREG. You can find out more at sasreg.co.za.

Another organisation that our team at Cape Fertility work with closely in creating much-needed awareness around infertility is the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa (IFAASA).

The Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa NPC, established in 2013, is a non-profit organisation with the aim of supporting Southern Africans living with reproductive health issues through education, research and advocacy, and to educate the public about reproductive disease. It is Southern Africa’s first infertility awareness association, and its vision is to be the leading Southern African infertility awareness association while also driving public and industry awareness and understanding of infertility. It also acts on behalf of the infertility community as advocates by lobbying for fair support and change and equal access to public and private sector treatment.

In February, IFAASA aims to ensure that in Reproductive Health Month the disease of infertility is afforded the awareness that it deserves.

“Statistics show that one in six couples suffer from some form of infertility,” says Saskia Williams, CEO of IFAASA. “Yet, the general public, numerous medical practitioners, and many infertile couples themselves are unacquainted with and ignorant of the journey infertile couples follow in their quest to achieve their families. Our objective is to encourage couples and individuals to seek diagnosis and possible treatment, at a SASREG accredited clinic as soon as they start to realise that their reproductive health may be compromised.”

You can find out more at www.reproductivehealthmonth.co.za or visit the IFAASA website – ifaasa.co.za.

What to do if you are concerned about your reproductive health

If you are concerned about your reproductive health, we would like to invite you to come and meet one of our four reproductive specialists, Dr Sulaiman Heylen, Dr Paul Le RouxDr Nomathamsanqa Matebese and Dr Lizle Oosthuizen – all with impressive qualifications and extensive experience. They enjoy the qualified support of a team of associated specialists, embryologists, IVF co-ordinators, theatre staff and an administration team.

You will find our team at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town, that has an IVF Procedure Room, a modern sophisticated Laboratory and an Embryo Transfer room, all adjacent to our Main Reception and Staff Offices. These facilities allow all the latest Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART) to be used with great success.

When you visit us Cape Fertility, the first thing our team will do is a comprehensive assessment or a full fertility workup to determine what is the cause of the reproductive health problems are. This is important, because infertility can only be treated successfully if the real cause – and often several causes – have been identified. Once the cause of the fertility problem has been established, the right treatment can be provided.

Our Cape Fertility team achieves some of the best success rates in the world. Yet, we are always striving for higher success rates to ensure even more of our patients can experience good reproductive health and, ultimately, the joy of having their own baby.

Your next step is simply to contact us by clicking here

At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with our signature individualised and personalised care.