One in six couples are diagnosed with infertility, and it’s a common misconception that with infertility the problem lies with the woman, said the Infertility Awareness Association of SA (IFAASA).
“In fact, there is more or less an equal split in causes of infertility, with a third of causes each attributable to men, women, or both partners,” says IFAASA spokeswoman, Meggan Zunckel .
“Men often believe that their fertility is an indication of their sexuality and masculinity, when this in fact very far from the truth. Women in turn, being generally more open about grieving the perceived loss of a dream of a family, are often faced with society's platitudes, which, although well intended, can be frustrating and even hurtful,”she added.
South African filmmaker, Molatelo Maneitje, is trying to raise awareness around infertility by turning the spotlight on her own struggle.
Her short film, Womb-man, is grabbing attention at film festivals across the globe, having recently won a Mercke Foundation Media Recognition award.
Womb-Man is an adaption of her full-length feature, When Babies Don’t Come.
In it Maneitje tells her own story of the physical and emotional trauma of infertility, hoping to shed light on the matter and break the taboo around it, especially in traditional communities.
Maneitje said the taboo around infertility needs to be broken: “Infertility is heavily stigmatised. If you’re a woman struggling to give birth then suddenly you are half a human being. We are called names, very derogatory names. This is some of the stigma that we deal with day in day out. And some of them are not even intentional.”
Zunckel said: “Anyone who has been through “the tough, lonely experience of infertility (as I have) knows how much better it could have, would have, should have been with a powerful, organized, compassionate patient advocacy group in your corner, fighting for patients when they are at their lowest point facing this condition. Patients diagnosed with infertility are faced with a society with very little understanding of the subject. As a result, it has become a topic which is uncomfortable to discuss, and the discussions that do happen, are often short lived due to the superficial and sometimes even well intended but hurtful words of "comfort" and "advice" offered. Furthermore, individuals and couples undergoing fertility treatments often struggle to get support and understanding from their employers on both the emotional impact of diagnoses and treatments as well as the time required to actually undergo the treatment procedures.”
In this trailer of her coming film When Babies Don’t Come Maneitje offers a glimpse of her journey.
Warning: Sensitive content.