Knowledge, Community Perceptions, and Treatment Options for Infertile Males and Females in Central Ghana.

INTRODUCTION:

Infertility, often a neglected area of research, is a global health issue that affects people all over the world. Although infertility is universal, its burden differs from place to place. In the Brong Ahafo Region of Kintampo, Ghana, the community perceptions of infertility along with the scarcely available treatment options may create a heavy psychological, financial, and social burden on couples and their families. It necessary to raise awareness of the problem of infertility as a public health issue, to shift community perceptions and promote provision of necessary reproductive health services. This study aimed to investigate the knowledge and community perceptions of infertility and to explore the existing methods used to treat infertility among males and females in the Central Ghana.

METHODS:

We conducted twelve interviews among community stakeholders and 400 community members to explore the perception of the community in relation to infertility and the available treatment options. We interviewed males and females (18-49 years of age), infertile couples, modern medical care providers, religious leaders, a traditional medical care provider, a traditional spiritual healer, and a 90 year old woman in the community. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were applied using in-depth, semi-structured interviews and structured questionnaires. The qualitative results were thematically analyzed using the study objects as a guide. The quantitative results were analyzed using STATA version 14.

RESULTS:

The findings showed that the community had little to no knowledge on the meaning and causes of infertility. The community perceptions of infertility were generally negative and infertile people were seen to be depressed, angry, mistreated, and unsupported. There was a significant association between one’s educational level and treatment seeking behavior. Modern/ hospital based treatments methods were seen as ideal however traditional/ herbal treatment methods were most utilized due to factors like affordability and accessibility.

DISCUSSION:

The importance of sexual and reproductive health education is recognized, as education significantly determines one’s course of treatment. Infertility is generally seen in a negative light and infertile people are often stigmatized within the Central Ghanaian community. Treatment options for infertility vary but traditional/ herbal treatment options are most likely used.