The support and encouragement of people experiencing the same thing as obtains on online fertility forums, is especially very crucial for the Nigerian. Many ladies have only their already overburdened spouses to whom to vent their fears and concerns as we live in a society where it's almost a taboo to disclose that one has had or is intending to do IVF. This is basically because, the fear of jinxing the process (or the African’s fear of being ‘jazzed’ by enemies) aside, awareness and acceptance of IVF is still quite low and even today, disclosure often leads to hurtful reactions.
The fear of stigmatisation is so very real that today, more than 25 years after his birth, the parents of Nigeria's very first IVF baby, Eghosa Oluwaremilekun, are yet to go public, leaving the doctor of the less reticent parents of Hannatu Kupchi who was born years later, to often take the credit, rather than the pioneering effort of the Prof. Ashiru & Giwa-Osagie duo.
The very few Nigerian fertility discussion boards that now exist provide a platform and important resource for anonymously getting genuine, caring help & advice that was formerly unavailable to the Nigerian IVF patient who hitherto had to depend on foreign ones like ‘Belly & Bump,’ 'Fertility Friends,' Fertile Thoughts,' etc.
In Nigeria, some religious leaders with the mistaken notion that this shows a lack of faith or that IVF doctors are ‘playing ‘God,’ discourage their already aging fertility challenged followers from undergoing Assisted Reproduction Techniques (a serious drawback in a situation where the younger, the better the outcome) so that those that do so nonetheless do it with a sense of guilt.
A popular Lagos-based preacher (name withheld) is often heard to say: “I’m not saying IVF is bad O, but if you don’t pray very well before doing it, it will fail; with God, you don’t need IVF.” Thankfully though, more and more of these leaders now understand better and embrace this option as just one of God’s ways of having babies - some even going as far as funding treatment cycles for their needy members.
Members of religious groups sometimes come on these forums to share and encourage fellow believers to follow the IVF treatment route which they believe is also to God’s glory.
Experiencing a failed cycle is one of the most emotionally crushing things that a hopeful couple can go through especially if they just managed to self-fund the treatment cycle in the first place. Where the treating clinic does not provide any or adequate follow up for such patients, it's an even more traumatic situation and forum friends are often ‘life savers!’
Old forum threads and discussions continue to provide info and comfort to members and ‘lurkers’ new to the IVF process; for instance, members [one can usually distinguish real patients from clinic advertising fronts] of Nairaland’s IVF thread such as ‘Blendy 77,’ ‘Kingsdaughter,’ 'Faithfulwife,' ‘Beauty4ashes,’ the rare male, ‘Iwangobio,’ etc., have since left ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ and are now proud parents after the heartache of infertility but the old posts in which they shared their challenges, experiences and advice, continue to provide hope and inspiration to others ; thus the role of online fertility forums cannot be overemphasized.
THE FORUM LINKS:
*NICOLE THE FERTILE CHICK:
Nigerian fertility doctors can borrow a leaf from some overseas ones to set up interactive online blogs and forums with the understanding that any criticisms expressed there, are usually constructive and they will get to answer a lot more questions from patients than time constraints normally allow. An example is fertility expert Geoffrey Sher's Open Forum at 'Fertility Authority’ and 'Fertile Thoughts' forum where members freely express themselves and advise one another while the doctor logs in from time to time to answer questions and clear up any grey areas .