Perceptions of Infertility - A Survey of Urban Residents in Port Harcourt
Objective: Societal influence on infertile couples usually stems from what is known or perceived about the causes, risk factors and treatment of infertility in the population. This study aimed to investigate perceptions of infertility among urban residents of Port Harcourt.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional, household-based survey was conducted in the Borikiri area of Port Harcourt in 2003. A sample of 150 adults, aged 20 years and above was drawn by multi-staged random sampling involving the selection of streets, houses, households and finally individuals, as sampling units at different stages. Households were visited over a period of two days, and all eligible subjects were interviewed using a pre-tested, interviewer-administered, structured questionnaire.
Results: Sixty (40.0%) of the respondents were females; 105 (70%) were 20-29 years; 58.7% were unmarried; and 66.7% possessed tertiary education. Only 48 (32.0%) correctly identified a three-fold medical definition of infertility (2=38.88, p-value=0.00). Between 88% and 100% were aware of a selection of factors perceived to increase the risk of infertility. About two-thirds (93, 63.3%) felt that a woman was more likely to be responsible for infertility. Majority, 106 (70.7%) were aware of In-vitro Fertilization, and 92 (61.3%) knew of Artificial Insemination by Husband and Artificial Insemination by Donor respectively. Over 80% were in support of Artificial Insemination by Husband and In-vitro Fertilization, but only about 25% and 10% supported Adoption and Artificial Insemination by Donor, respectively.
Conclusion: Our study showed that most of Port Harcourt residents' perception of the definition of infertility differed from its commonly used medical context. However many recognized some known risk factors of infertility and were aware of assisted reproductive technologies. But they were selective in the options they support. Patients' level of knowledge and differences in perceptions between a biomedical and lay concept of infertility are important for health workers' management decisions.
Keywords: Infertility, Perception, Urban subjects, Port Harcourt, Nigeria