Infertility could be reversed.
Eating well can avert primary infertility, which is why women finding it hard to conceive are advised to have a balanced diet.
Men are equally advised to eat well to increase their sperm production and in the process increase the chances of conception.
After 12 months of trying to conceive with no luck, Rachel Obura was frustrated. "The situation was starting to affect my marriage. I was moody and short tempered. I was frequently on the verge of tears, especially if I was out shopping and saw a pregnant woman, or one carrying a cute baby or toddler running about in my neighbourhood," she says.
What was I doing wrong? How come all these other women could do it and I couldn't? What was wrong with me? These were some of the questions that would run through Obura's mind. Unfortunately for her, none of the questions had an answer.
She waited day in and day out to get pregnant but one day led to another. The days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months led to years - five years. Rachel and Peter Obura were desperately trying to have a baby.
"I started to blame Peter. What if he was not doing things right? Would it undermine his masculinity if he found out that he was the reason I was not conceiving? Would he even go for a test to find out about his sperm count?" she says.
Rachel Obura shared her problem with her mother and grandmother who got her herbs to drink.
They told her the herbs would enable her to conceive. She took the herbs diligently but still did not conceive.
"The last thing on my mind before I slept and the first thing when I woke up was, 'I want a baby'," discloses Obura.
Each day that went by, there was despair, hope, loss, sadness and longing.
Peter and Rachel Obura thought it would be easy to conceive when they set out to start a family six years and four months ago. After all, they had put so much effort into not getting pregnant in their first year of marriage. They had tried out the different contraceptive options since the contraceptive pill did not work for Rachel.
"We both had physical check ups. Our doctor told us we were both in good health and that
although I was 30 years old, I should have no trouble conceiving," says Obura.
The doctor advised the Oburas to try harder but seeing that they had tried and nothing was happening, Rachel embarked on reading about pregnancy and conception.
She applied everything she learned as much as she could.
"I was taking vitamins like B- complex and Folic acid every day. My husband also did and he discovered that pre-conception care for the potential father was as important as it was for the mother-to-be, " Obura says.
"We were exercising for an hour and a half everyday. We took plenty of water and ate meat once in a while," she adds.
The Oburas kept off any form of alcohol and ate plenty of greens like nakati, dodo and buga.
They spent many hours together but sex was no longer much fun.
It became something they did at the right time because Rachel was ovulating.
Afterwards, they would talk quietly about their fading hopes. "We would try and look on the bright side and just think about all the money we had saved by not having children. However, the most common occurrence was that after sex, we would just lie together and cry until we fell asleep," says Obura.
Recently however, the couple walked to the front of the church with their two-month-old son. The pastor congratulated them for being patient with each other and the Oburas could not stop smiling.
Causes of infertility
According to Dr. Busingye Tusasirwe of Mbarara hospital, Obura's experience is not new. Many women suffer from primary infertility.
He says the causes range from hormonal imbalance to blocked tubes.
Normally, hormonal imbalances wear off and women become pregnant.
For blocked tubes however, it is hard for a woman to get pregnant because it means that the sperm can never find its way to fertilise the egg (ovary), thus the failure to conceive.
Hormonal imbalance can manifest itself in many ways -for some people, it can be throat infections, flu, fatigue, low energy and at times depression.
Dr. Tusasirwe says eating well can avert primary infertility.
He advises that women finding it hard to conceive even after carrying out tests with their physicians and being told that everything is well with them and their husbands, should eat a balanced diet.
He says a balanced diet of greens, protein foods like fish, meat and beans plus carbohydrates and plenty of water can help a woman conceive faster than she would have if she were having a poor diet.
"Taking vitamins like folic acid and vitamin B or foods that have vitamins can also be helpful in the conception process," says Dr. Tusasirwe.
Foods that have vitamins include sweet potatoes, fruits like oranges, passion fruits, jackfruit and bananas.
Another reason women may have primary infertility is if they have or have ever suffered from pelvic inflammatory diseases or infections, like gonorrhoea, syphilis, Candida and any other sexually transmitted disease.
However, Dr. Tusasirwe says delay in conception can be caused by a man's sperm count.
He says that if a man has a low sperm count, he can fail to impregnate a woman. He advises that couples faced with the problem should both check with their physicians.
He says most men do not want to be checked and yet at times, they are to blame for failure to have a child in a home. Tusasirwe advises that if a man has a low sperm count, he can be given medication that can increase his count.
He also says feeding on a balanced diet can increase a man's sperm production, and this increases the chances of conception.
According to Tusasirwe, secondary infertility is when a woman's tubes are completely blocked but he says this situation can be tackled by an operation.
"In the operation, the tubes are unblocked and a woman is able to conceive. However, the technology is still new in Uganda and it is extremely expensive," he says.
Secondary infertility can also be thwarted by in vitro fertilisation. This method is also expensive and is rarely done in Uganda. While the Oburas succeeded in having a child, many couples are still grappling with the problem.
However from the medical point of view, there is hope. Couples should not give up trying all possible options in their continued search for children.