ABC of the ‘3 parent baby’ technology.

3 parent baby, sexual wellbeing, The world reacted with horror when the news of the ‘3 parent baby’ was approved in UK Parliament last week making the UK the very first country to authorise this.

It is understandable that there would be such a reaction. People distrust science when it comes to reproduction. It was the same reaction with In vitro fertilization (IVF) yet today so many families have benefited from it. The success of IVF now means that many couples who otherwise would be childless can now enjoy the bliss of having their own babies.

Now science has moved on to ‘3 parent baby.’

However I want to explain the so called ‘3 parent baby’ in a way non-medical people can understand. This is not science playing God at all.

But first some terminologies:3 parent baby, sexual wellbeing network

Mitochondrial diseases: The mitochondrion is the”power house” of the cell. It produces the energy required by our cells to function effectively. It also helps the body detoxify waste products amongst many other functions.

It is because the Mitochondria are such an important part of our cells that when they malfunction, it causes a whole range of diseases known as Mitochondrial Disorders.

Some disorders related to malfunction of the Mitochondria include Blindness, Autism, Diabetes, Myopathy (muscle problems), Bipolar disorder, Dementia, Epilepsy, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease and many others.

Many of these diseases are passed on from mother to her child because the child gets its mitochondria from the mother. So if the mum passes on defective mitochondria, the child will then be affected by these mitochondrial diseases.

So how does the 3 parent baby work??

Mitochondrial donation means that those with defective Mitochondria can get a good one from donors.

The baby still has the entire DNA from its own father.

It still has the entire DNA from its own mother.

However the defective Mitochondria from the biological mum are replaced with functioning Mitochondria from a donor. This donor Mitochondria make up only about 0.1% of the total DNA in the baby.

I have simplified the process to help readers understand. Details about the procedure can be read in medical articles such as here.

So, do these donated mitochondria mean that the child has 3 parents??

If you got a kidney from a donor, does that make the donor one of your parents??

So we can see that the term ‘3 parent baby’ does not really mean what it says and is simply creating fear and mistrust in the public.

However this is a new technology and long term studies will be needed to ensure that it is safe just like studies are needed and are ongoing concerning IVF babies and many other scientific breakthroughs. We just do not know for now how safe Mitochondrial donation is even though the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has suggested that the technique is “not unsafe.”

You can read why one scientist opposes mitochondrial donation here.

But for now it looks like a major breakthrough which hopefully might  alleviate and even eliminate mitochondrial diseases and the suffering and anguish of families affected by them.


Dr Adaeze Ifezulike is a Family Physician/GP based in Aberdeen. She is a Finalist at the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015 and for her book ‘Understanding Contraception: A guide for black ladies’ she has been nominated ‘Author of the Year’ at the Women4Africa Awards.

A note for teenage girls.

Teenagers, youth, sex education, teenage mothers, education.

Please share with every young girl you know.

Lets give our girls back their youth.
Young girls should enjoy their teenage years without being ladled with ‘adult matters.’

I am often saddened when a teenager walks into my consulting room requesting an abortion or suffering from depression as a result of boy/girl/relationship traumas.

Lets encourage our girls to aspire to more in life.
Motivate them to get a good education.
Inspire them to aim for more and not settle for a life of regrets and ‘I wish I had listened.’

Please click the share button and make a difference. Thanks.

HIV? Me?

HIV? Me? No, I’m married! (22)

contraception, HIV, black women healthIt was just a short walk from my car into the surgery but the weather was so windy and wet that my dainty umbrella was useless in all that ferocity. I got a bit wet.

As I hurried into the surgery, the receptionist called out to me.

‘Dr Ezii,a gentleman called and left a message for you.’

‘Oh? Who was it?’ I asked as I took the mail out of my pigeonhole and hurriedly scanned through it.

‘A man named Dike.’

‘What the…’ I bit my lips to stop the swear word that had risen to my mouth, smiled my thanks to the receptionist and made my way to my consulting room. I was burning with anger.

It had been two days since the event with Dike. I thought I had managed to erase the bad taste the whole thing had left in my mouth.

I was still disgusted with myself over my cowardice at the doctors’ meeting. How could I have chickened out like that? What shameful diffidence!

What did he want now? How dare he even try to see me? Perhaps he was coming to apologise? Well, stuff his apology!
I immediately got into the business of the day. I had 36 patients to see with a paltry fifteen minutes break after the first eighteen. I had no time to waste on Dike and his family.

The Afrocarribean Health Event holds on 25th October at RCCG Fountain of Love Church hall, Palmerston Road, Aberdeen, Scotland. This free event is unique in that it tackles health issues that affect afrocarribeans.
Topics that will be featured include Mental Health, Hypertension and Diabetes, Sexual Health and Weight Management.
Experts on the above topics will be available to answer questions. Lunch will be provided. All adults are warmly invited.
Register for the event here.

 

 

 

Condoms -do they fail? Or do you? (2)

Have you not used lubricating gel before?”

Baako and Amina looked at each other.

“Well, we have tried baby oil…”

“And Vaseline…”

“But not cooking oil?” I teased.

We all laughed.

“Lubricating gel is very useful as it reduces friction and stops the condom from tearing. The type of lubricant is very important though. All the ones you’ve used such as the Vaseline and baby oil and all other oil-based lubricants are damaging to condoms and so can contribute to pregnancy.”positive steps

“Hmm,” Amina glanced at Baako.

“Water-based lubricants are better as they do not weaken the condom. They can be purchased in most pharmacies.”

“Okay, we will get that then,” Baako said.
“But will you consistently use a condom?” Amina turned to him.

“If it’s available, why not?” Baako shrugged.

“So will you make sure you always have some?”

“What about you making sure there are always some about?” Baako retorted.

How would you advice Baako and Amina about who is responsible for stocking up on condoms??

Sterilisation? That’s castration, right??

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!”

positive steps

“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!”
“What if…”
“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?”
“No.”

“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 😀

It’s my wife’s fault!

So Amina came back to see me as planned. If you are new to the blog, please read the previous articles here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/contraception-to-ignore-it-or-tackle-it-that-is-the-question-2/ and also https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/youre-pregnant-congratulations-or-not/.

This time, I was pleased to see that she’d brought her husband with her. Studies show that if men are involved in making decisions about contraception, the women are more likely to continue with the method jointly chosen and are more tolerant of side effects. So ladies, take your husband along with you to the family planning clinic if you can.

After they both sat down and we finished with the pleasantries, the husband said: “I came so I can see this doctor who is suggesting adoption to my wife.” He was angry. “How could you even suggest such a thing?”

I gave Amina my best what-have-you-been-telling-your-husband look. I was taken aback.

“How would she carry the pregnancy? Everybody will see her pregnant and then what will we say to people when there is no baby in the end?”

‘I won’t let anyone know I am pregnant…’ Amina ventured timidly.

‘Indeed, when you start spitting all over the place, how won’t people know? And when the tummy starts showing, what would you say is inside there? Food?’

I stifled my laughter.

“We were just discussing possible options to abortion,” I explained. “I do the same with any woman who presents for an abortion; but of course the ultimate decision lies with you and we are here to help whatever your decision. I just try to make sure you’ve thought things through.’

I could see him visibly relax as I explained.

“Abortion is not like having your tooth taken out, you know.”

“Okay, I see,” he said, his voice quieter.

“All this wouldn’t have happened if she’d been more careful,” he continued gesturing at Amina.

“Me?!” Amina recoiled at the accusation. I could see tears forming.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“’Doctor please tell her she needs to ensure she doesn’t keep getting pregnant. Even little girls of 16 years know how to not get pregnant.”

“What do you think you could do to help the situation?”

“Me?”’ He was thrown by my question. “But this is her responsibility. She is the one getting pregnant.”

“Have you ever considered getting sterilised?”

“What?! First you talked of adoption, now you are saying sterilisation! Surely you don’t understand our ways even though you are one of us. A man doesn’t get sterilised.”

“Okay, I look forward to discussing that at another time with you but, for now, let’s hear what you’ve decided to do about this pregnancy.”

“Abortion of course.”

I looked at Amina to get her consent. “Yes doctor, we will go for an abortion,” she said quietly.

“Okay.”

“So what do we do next?” She asked.

I shall be discussing what happens on the next blog so be sure to click the follow button so you don’t miss out.

What do you think about male sterilization?

Consider these statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2013 on contraceptive use. The percentages using male sterilisation for different countries are as below:

Canada 22%

UK         17%

Namibia 0.8%

South Africa 0.7%

Uganda  0.1%

Zambia 0.1%

It’s obvious that the concept of male sterilisation hasn’t taken root among black communities.

Should we be promoting male sterilisation? What do you think is the reason why black men do not go for sterilisation even when they are sure their families are complete?

Don’t forget to participate in the poll on contraception here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/lets-know-what-you-think/. I value your input immensely. You are the reason for the Blog! Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. Till next post, stay strong!

Dr Adaeze.

You’re pregnant! Congratulations! (Or not?)

A warm welcome to today’s post! I trust you have had a great time since the last blog and that you are already inspired to take positive measures towards better sexual well being.

positive steps

Why not let other black sisters know what new steps you’ve taken. Drop a comment in the box below and you can also let me know if there are any burning sexual health issues you would like to discuss.

One of the commonest things ladies ask me about is contraception. Once I have been introduced to a woman and she learns that I am a doctor, the very next chance she has, she pulls me aside and say ‘Oh doctor, I have been meaning to see someone about this, please what contraception should I be using?’

People want answers to medical issues that they face daily and that is a good thing. The more informed we are, the more equipped we are to make positive choices.

This blog looks at sexual health issues. Make sure you click the ‘follow’ button so you don’t miss out on any posts.

So – do you remember Amina?-(If you haven’t met Amina, please read my earlier blog at https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/contraception-to-ignore-it-or-tackle-it-that-is-the-question-2/).

She found herself with an unplanned pregnancy and had come to the family planning clinic to request an abortion. This happens only too frequently.

We had established that Amina used condoms sometimes and nothing at other times. We will be focusing on condom use in a later post… so watch out!

“So how would you want to proceed from here?” I asked, gently.

“What else can I do, doctor? Abortion is my only option! We couldn’t possibly afford a fourth child,” her eyes brimmed over with tears again.

“How would you feel if I mentioned some option?”

“Like what, doctor?”                                                                                                                  “What are your thoughts about adoption?”

“What! Have the child and then give it away? God forbid!” She exclaimed. “Our culture does not support adoption…You should know that, doctor,” she ended reproachfully.

“Well, more and more black families are choosing to adopt children, especially those who can’t have their own kids,” I replied with a smile.

“I really don’t know about that. I don’t think I could go down that route, doctor. Any more options?” She asked hopefully.

“What about keeping the pregnancy?”

She shook her head slowly and gave a loud sigh. “We can’t afford another child, really. But I will discuss adoption with my husband and see what he thinks.”

“Ultimately the decision is yours and we are here to help. It’s only fair I highlight other options to you and you can let me know what you decide to do. Shall I see you back in two days or a week’s time?”

She booked an appointment for a week’s time.

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, what do you do? Many black communities see adoption as something foreign and that means that option is not even considered in many cases. Should we encourage more adoption? What are your views?

What other options are there to abortion?
abortionWhat would you put in the fourth small circle on the left? Remember: the whole point of this blog is to prevent you from getting to the point where you face an unplanned pregnancy in the first place. Effective use of contraception will help this.

Amina came back to see me a week later. I am sure you would want to know what she decided to do so please stay tuned.

Until next time, have a great week!

Dr Adaeze.