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Opinions of Monday, 30 August 2021

Columnist: Alfred Nii Arday Ankrah

Breaking the barrier of barrenness, miscarriage and infertility; dealing with its stigma

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Dealing with infertility issues in the African setting is very devastating to its victims due to society’s stigma through naming and shaming.

This banter is not different in the Ghanaian society where persons who suffer miscarriages and infertility are being stigmatised and mistreated as non-humans, which usually make such victims more hopeless.

Such frivolous encounters pose psychological, emotional and metal traumas to victims and does not create peaceful and harmonious environments for victims.

When victims of these plights are accepted and comforted in the society, it creates room for more optimism and boosts their confidence for a brighter future and looking at alternatives.

Plights of these victims should be carried by neighbours as a cross and help them to live a free-mind because infertility or miscarriages is not the end point of one’s life.

Pathetically, some victims after going through such ordeals attempt or commit suicide to end the misery of their lives but that should never be the case.

In this limelight, who should be considered as the murderer? The society or the victim? Perhaps the society, because it did not make room to accept such victims to fit in the society.

Roots of infertility

Speaking with Dr. Bridget Ben-Naimah, a Senior Counsellor and Director at the University of Ghana Careers and Counselling Centre, she frowned on how society stigmatise persons suffering from infertility.

The Renowned Counsellor underscored the need for society to put a stop to such behaviours because it inhumane and affects the psychological wellbeing of victims.

Highlighting on the causes of infertility, Dr. Ben-Naimah said it could either be from the man or woman or unknown, but however, in most cases, the blame is placed on the woman.

“It is assumed that all women should be able to conceive and bear children. When this does not happen, the woman especially is stigmatised”, she explained.

Dr. Ben-Naimah enumerated some causes of infertility including, challenges with ovulation, problems associated with menstrual cycle, problems with ovaries, low sperm count, infections, uterine fibroids, structural problems with reproductive system, hormonal imbalances, factors related to age, medical problems and disorders among others.

Unnecessary infertility stigma practices in Ghana

The Director of Counselling stated that some forms stigmatisation to victims in the society which ranges from discrimination in society, insults from relatives or neighbours, disrespect, refusal to offer the victim leadership positions, prevention from inheriting properties in the family, accusation of promiscuity and numerous abortions as cause of infertility, accusations of being a witch who has eaten up all her children, and being considered as having a bad omen.

Psychological Effects on the Victim

Dr. Ben-Naimah indicated that, stigmatisation effects the victim psychologically and poses a risk on their health.

Anxiety, the Counsellor explained, could sometimes even affects the possibility of conception.

Stressing on some of the psychological effects, the Expert mentioned that hopelessness and worry makes the victim sad.

Dr. Ben-Naimah reiterated that depression on the victim could lead to lack of performance at work or in other social roles or suicidal ideations.

Some of these victims give wrong interpretation of people’s actions or utterances towards them – thinking it is because they do not have children, she said.

Some of the effects she said is the fear of the future, frustration when hope fails, low self-esteem, and their faith could be adversely affected.

Sometimes they are full of guilt and self-blame if they actually aborted pregnancy in the past.

These may lead to:

Strain of the marital relationship, if married, or could lead to separation or divorce, and victims may refuse to accept other option of owning or fostering children because of fear of further stigmatisation by people who would get to know.

Some of these victims face financial constraints as a result of huge expenses incurred in looking for solutions.

Their status in society could be adversely affected and temptation of committing adultery to solve the problem, Dr. Ben-Naimah revealed.


The Counsellor cum Reverend Minister appealed that the subject matter of infertility is being discussed at all levels including the church, mosque, media, social groups, schools, among others in order to empower women and girls on the subject.

She admonished affected victims to seek counselling in order to make informed choices and possible ways of owning children.
Dr. Ben-Naimah advised that there should be more publications on the subject for public consumption to help educate the society.


Rev. Mrs. Eva Amartsoo Ackon, President of the Christian Women Fellowship in Action, a Non-Denominational Faith Based Women Group in Accra-Ghana said it is inappropriate to name and shame victims because the act puts them in an embarrassing state.

This she said disintegrates their ambitions and goals since all they are being faced with is dejection and hatred.

She admonished victims to keep their hopes high and constantly make time to communicate to their maker for an astonishment.

The Rev. Minister cautioned the general public to put a stop to stigmatisation and help such victims with the necessary support they would require from them.

She admonished young girls to aspire for greatness and charged parents to give special to their girl-child education which is a prerequisite for growth and development of the entire nation.