Herbalists’ explanations of infertility: The case of Northern and Southern Ghana

Dorcas Ofosu-Budu, Vilma Hänninen

Abstract

In sub-Saharan Africa, traditional medical practitioners also referred to as herbalists, offer diagnostics and therapeutics for diverse medical conditions irrespective of the cause. Given their traditional role as healers and repository of knowledge about medicinal plants, spirituality, customs and religion, people use their services regardless of their location, education, or socio-economic backgrounds. The aim of the study is to explore herbalists´ views and explanations on infertility and women with infertility. Using an exploratory qualitative design, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 herbalists, 5 from the North-East region, 2 from Ashanti region and 3 from the Greater Accra region. Following thematic analysis, findings show that infertility has multiple causes - medical, natural, spiritual and lifestyle. Some herbalists stated that everyone was created to bear children while others refuted this notion. They shared the common consensus that not everyone can have children even though they may be medically and spiritually fit. The public should be advised on the need for periodic reproductive health checks. Also, there should be a conscious, concerted efforts to gradually dissociate unhealthy explanations of infertility from the actual empirically proven realities. This would empower society to rise above those entrenched beliefs, thereby reducing the stigma associated with infertility and women with infertility. (Afr J Reprod Health 2022; 26[5]: 96-106).

Full Text:

PDF

References

Cousineau TM and Domar AD. Psychological impact of infertility. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2007; 21(2):293-308.

Jaradat N and Zaid AN. Herbal remedies used for the treatment of infertility in males and females by traditional healers in the rural areas of the West Bank/Palestine. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19(1):1-12.

Vander Borght M and Wyns C. Fertility and infertility: Definition and epidemiology. Clin Biochem. 2018;62:2-10.

Bahamondes L and Makuch MY. Infertility care and the introduction of new reproductive technologies in poor resource settings. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2014;12(1):1-7.

Burns LH and Covington SN. Psychology of infertility. Infertil Couns A Compr Handb Clin. 2006:1-19.

Inhorn MC. Global infertility and the globalization of new reproductive technologies: illustrations from Egypt. Soc Sci Med. 2003;56(9):1837-1851.

Ekor M. The growing use of herbal medicines: issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety. Front Pharmacol. 2014;4:177.

Kaadaaga HF, Ajeani J, Ononge S, Alele PE, Noeline Nakasujja N, Manabe YC and Kakaire O. Prevalence and factors associated with use of herbal medicine among women attending an infertility clinic in Uganda. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14(1):27.

Aziato L and Antwi HO. Facilitators and barriers of herbal medicine use in Accra, Ghana: an inductive exploratory study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16(1):142.

Addo VN. Herbal medicines: socio-demographic characteristics and pattern of use by patients in a tertiary obstetrics and gynaecology unit. J Sci Technol. 2007;27(3):149-155.

Fischer M. Childbearing in Ghana: how beliefs affect care. 2002.

Hiadzi RA and Boafo IM. Quest for conception: exploring treatment patterns associated with infertility in Ghana. Afr J Reprod Health. 2020;24(2):27-39.

Donkor ES. Socio-cultural perceptions of infertility in Ghana. Afr J Nurs Midwifery. 2008;10(1):22-34.

Ofosu-Budu D and Hänninen V. Ways of reducing the stigma of infertility: Views of infertile women and their herbalists. Afr J Reprod Health. 2021;25(2):110-119.

Fakeye TO, Adisa R and Musa IE. Attitude and use of herbal medicines among pregnant women in Nigeria. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009;9(1):53.

Tabuti JRS, Dhillion SS and Lye KA. Traditional medicine in Bulamogi county, Uganda: its practitioners, users and viability. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;85(1):119-129.

Lebbie A, Kouamé F and Kouassi E. Specialization in ethnomedicinal plant knowledge among herbalists in the forest region of Rivercess County, Liberia. J Med Plants Res. 2017;11(14):264-274.

Dierickx S, Balen J, Longman C, Rahbari L, Clarke ED, Jarju B and Coene G. ‘We are always desperate and will try anything to conceive’: The convoluted and dynamic process of health seeking among women with infertility in the West Coast Region of The Gambia. PLoS One. 2019;14(1):e0211634.

James PB, Taidy-Leigh L, Bah AJ, Kanu JS, Kangbai JB and Sevalie S. Prevalence and correlates of herbal medicine use among women seeking Care for Infertility in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med. 2018;2018.

Yebei VN. Unmet needs, beliefs and treatment-seeking for infertility among migrant Ghanaian women in the Netherlands. Reprod Health Matters. 2000;8(16):134-141.

Odek A, Masinde JM, Egesah O, Irungu C and Mulinge MM. Socio-Cultural Beliefs and Practices Associated with Infertility in Kenya: A Case of Kisumu County. 2016.

Birhan W, Giday M and Teklehaymanot T. The contribution of traditional healers’ clinics to public health care system in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2011;7(1):1-7.

Ofosuaa B, Duku MO, Asante RB and Kojo PD. Role Of Small And Medium-Scale Enterprises In The Economic Development Of Ghana (Perception Of Entrepreneurs In The Accra Metropolis) By. 2015.

Donkor AK and Waek BI. Community Involvement and Teacher Attendance in Basic Schools: The Case of East Mamprusi District in Ghana. Int J Educ Pract. 2018;6(2):50-63.

Service GS. 2010 Population & Housing Census: National Analytical Report. Ghana Statistics Service; 2013.

Fynn JK and Addo-Fening R. History: For senior secondary schools. Minist Educ Accra Evans Brother Ltd, London. 1991.

Braun V and Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol. 2006;3(2):77-101.

Saldaña J. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Sage; 2015.

Fido A and Zahid MA. Coping with infertility among Kuwaiti women: Cultural perspectives. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2004;50(4):294-300. doi:10.1177/0020764004050334

Wiredu JE. How not to compare African traditional thought with Western thought. Transition. 1997;(75/76):320-327.

Szewczuk E. Age-related infertility: a tale of two technologies. Sociol Health Illn. 2012;34(3):429-443. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2011.01382.x

Gaur DS, Talekar MS and Pathak VP. Alcohol intake and cigarette smoking: impact of two major lifestyle factors on male fertility. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2010;53(1):35.

BeLue R, Okoror TA, Iwelunmor J, Taylor KD, Degboe AN, Agyemang C and Ogedegbe G. An overview of cardiovascular risk factor burden in sub-Saharan African countries: a socio-cultural perspective. Global Health. 2009;5(1):10.

Sharma R, Biedenharn KR, Fedor JM and Agarwal A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013;11(1):66.

Jung A and Schuppe H-C. Influence of genital heat stress on semen quality in humans. Andrologia. 2007;39(6):203-215.

Tabong PT-N and Adongo PB. Understanding the social meaning of infertility and childbearing: a qualitative study of the perception of childbearing and childlessness in Northern Ghana. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54429.

Rashid BM, Mahmoud TJ and Nore BF. Hormonal study of primary women with infertility. J Zankoy Sulaimani-Part A. 2013;15(2):2.

Seth B, Arora S and Singh R. Association of obesity with hormonal imbalance in infertility: a cross-sectional study in north Indian women. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013;28(4):342-347.

Roupa Z, Polikandrioti M, Sotiropoulou P, Faros E, Koulouri A, Wozniak G and Gourni M. Causes of infertility in women at reproductive age. Heal Sci J. 2009;3(2).

Pellati D, Mylonakis I, Bertoloni G, Fiore C, Andrisani A,

Ambrosini G and Armanini D. Genital tract infections and infertility. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2008;140(1):3-11.

Fledderjohann JJ. ‘Zero is not good for me’: implications of infertility in Ghana. Hum Reprod. 2012;27(5):1383-1390.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.