Reproductive Health


In 2010 Vivian (not her real name) received a request to have a private meeting with a couple from Mombasa who she had earlier met during one of the Christian conventions in Nairobi.

At the meeting held in one of the posh city hotels, the couple told Vivian they wanted her to carry the pregnancy on their behalf since the woman did not have a uterus of her own.

Kenyan women are earning close to a million shillings to carry a pregnancy on behalf of other women who for medical reasons cannot conceive and deliver a baby on their own.

The current trend is seeing a practice that was only considered as solution for infertile women in the developed countries gain increased acceptance in the country at a faster rate than initially thought.

Couples who are unable to have a baby because the woman lacks the uterus-the womb where the baby develops- or has medical complications that make pregnancy impossible, are now commissioning other women to host the pregnancy on their behalf.

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Robbed of their womanhood without consent

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Hundreds of women go through sterilization without their consent. A woman should be given a chance to choose the type of family planning method to use. Picture: InternetNicoleta Kambura was in and out of hospital several times for four months. One day in 1992 she decided to be tested for HIV and found out she was positive.

She was not informed immediately but continued to receive her medication at the hospital for some days.

One day a nurse came to her bed and told her “uko na ugonjwa mbaya sana (you have a very bad disease)”.

Women with their children at a health centre. Many women do not have the right information that could help in lower maternal and child mortalities. Picture: 

Kenyan woman Correspondent.Lack of proper information could be blamed on the high maternal and child mortality cases.

According to the Central Provincial Health Officer, maternal health remains a major challenge in the region with Kirinyaga County being the most affected.

“At the moment, there is unmet need of a good spermicide in the market and that is why we are interested to test this one from IPR to establish if it could help fill this gap,” says Prof William Stones, the Chair, Obstetric and Gynaecology department at Aga Khan University.A locally developed contraceptive could be in the market soon if trials on its effect on the human sperm are successful.

Kenyan women and men are taking huge bank loans, selling their properties, withdrawing all their savings and then investing the millions of shillings into baby projects. Those in this desperate search for a baby are infertile couples who will do anything to conceive.

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Infertility in Men and Women

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Many people might not know this, but smoking several cigarettes a day, heavy consumption of alcohol, or eating junk foods may increase the chances of becoming infertile.

It is not known exactly how many people in Kenya are infertile, but doctors estimate using the internationally agreed statistics that say 10 percent of any reproductive health population is infertile. This therefore means 90 percent of the Kenyan reproductive health population is fertile.

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Men too are infertile

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Although women are invariably blamed when a couple cannot have children, studies show that over 40 per cent of causes of infertility are directly attributable to the man. But due to stigma around infertility men keep it a secret when they realize they are infertile.

Infertility is defined as a condition resulting from abnormal functioning of the reproductive system. Nowadays, doctors insist on testing both the woman and man when investigating causes of infertility.

Test tube baby image by Judith Klausner. From FlickrWomen who have delivered through IVF are complaining that the use of the term test tube babies is stigmatising them, their children and husbands, making it difficult for them to share publicly how they conceived their babies.

“Why then does the society not refer to those children conceived through natural means as sex babies? This is unfair to babies conceived through IVF,” wonders Flora.

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