Last week we found out that Amina and her husband decided to go for an abortion. The last post can be read here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/its-my-wifes-fault/
In the UK, the organisation that regulates doctors (called the General Medical Council or GMC for short) recognises that some doctors may have a conscientious objection to some procedures, such as abortion. The GMC’s guidance is clear: whatever a doctor’s beliefs may be, the doctor MUST signpost patients to where they can get the help they require. So even if the doctor has conscientious objections, they have to send you to someone who will help you. This must be done without delay and in a non-judgemental manner.
So I directed Amina to colleagues who ensured that she got what she wanted.
She was back with her husband, Baako, to see me the following week. This time, she was determined that the issue of contraception must be sorted.
“I’m never ever going to have another abortion. I think two is enough!”
“Okay. So what do you want to use?”
“Well…” She shuffled her feet as she thought it over.
“I’m not going to be sterilised,” her husband cut in, “so forget that.”
Amina looked at him angrily. “What’s the matter with you? What are you afraid of? We’ve got the number of children we want, why don’t you get sterilised?”
“Why should I be the one to be sterilised?” He shot back.
I decided it was time to make a suggestion. “Perhaps you can tell me what you are worried about and we can talk about it.”
“Look doctor, this is what makes a man a man! I cannot go and be castrated like a dog or a bull: I am a man!”
“Okay,” I said, trying not to smile. I saw Amina roll her eyes in exasperation.
“Any other concerns?”
“Besides, it’s just these Oyibo people that introduced all these things. How would a man open his mouth and tell his kinsmen that he is sterilised? How would that sound, doctor? How would that sound?”
“I see. Anything else?”
“Are these not enough reasons, doctor? And besides…”
“Yes, go on…”
“Yes!” Amina chipped in. “Tell the doctor, tell her!”
“He is afraid that the children and I may die.”
“I don’t mean it like that! Shut up woman! But doctor, you know what I mean… supposing something happens to my wife and children, what will happen to me then, eh? Does it mean I will not then have the capacity to impregnate a woman again?”
“I hear all your concerns and will take them one by one. Let’s start with the first one.’
“You said that this is what makes a man, a man… Well, I think there is more to a man than being able to impregnate a woman. I guess you are worried about your erection and being able to make love to your wife. I want to reassure you that sterilisation does not affect that ability at all. When you are sterilised, your tubes are tied but the penis is not affected and you should still have a strong erection and achieve penetration with your wife. Do you understand?”
“Are you sure, doctor? You know you people say one thing and then do another thing.”
“I assure you that your normal erection and sexual drive is not affected when you are sterilised. In fact some women enjoy sex more because they are not worrying about getting pregnant.”
“Okay, if you say so.”
“Your other concern was about what people will say. Yes, it’s still a foreign concept and not one that everyone understands or agrees with. So it might be best to keep it to yourself. You don’t have to tell anybody what goes on in your bedroom. It’s not their business, is it?”
“Besides, something foreign doesn’t have to be evil. Remember that Mary Slessor came and stopped the killing of twins in black communities. It was a foreign concept among our people who felt that twins were evil. But we know now that she was right. So sterilisation is foreign to our culture but that does not mean it is wrong.”
“Okay. What of my third concern?”
“Well, you wondered what may happen if your wife and children should die.”
“What if you die, eh? Why must it be the children and I who die?” Amina interjected.
“Well, I understand your concern,” I answered Baako, “and again, this fear is rooted in our culture. In the past, we had many children because many of them died from diseases and poor living conditions. We had twelve, sixteen and even twenty children and in the end perhaps five survived. But now, things have improved. So if you follow that same mentality and have ten children, you may find that ten of them survive. So one shouldn’t have many children out of fear that some of them might not survive. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Does that answer your question?”
“Yes, okay. I will think about it but I still prefer condoms…”
“Eh… but condoms failed us,” said Amina.
“Whose fault is that?”
“Perhaps we should talk about condoms just to balance things up and see why they failed?” I asked.
My discussion with them concerning condoms and how to use them correctly and consistently will follow soon. Please stay tuned and dont forget to tell your friends (and foes!) about the blog 😉
Remember to send in your comments in the comment section just below this post. Our contraception poll will be closing soon. If you haven’t participated, you can still do so here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/lets-know-what-you-think/
So what are your own thoughts about sterilization? Have you or your husband been sterilized? How did it go? Do you regret your decision? Or is it the best thing that has happened to you? What will it take for you to be sterilized?
Please tell us….we are desperate to know 😀