This study examines perceptions of infertility causes, treatment-seeking behaviour and factors associated with seeking medical care in an urban infertile population in Rwanda, as well as the response of health providers.
Between November 2007 and May 2009 a hospital based survey was conducted among 312 women and 254 male partners in an infertile relationship.
Infertility causes based on a medical diagnosis were mentioned by 24% of women and 17% of men. Male infertility awareness was low in both sexes with 28% of men and 10% of women reporting male-related causes. Seventy-four per cent of women and 22% of men had sought care for their infertility in the past. Seeking treatment in the formal medical sector was associated with higher income, being married and infertility duration of more than 5 years in both sexes. In women, higher education and being nulliparous and in men blaming oneself for the infertility was also associated with seeking formal medical care. Participants reported a wide array of treatments they received in the past, often including ineffective or even harmful interventions.
Health authorities should invest in improving information, education and counselling on issues pertaining to causes and treatments of infertility, and in drawing up guidelines for the management of infertility at all levels of health care.