Good Sexual Health Is a Necessity in Marriage – Denloye [interview]

Dr. Ademola Denloye is the Medical Director, Men’s Clinic Nigeria, an affiliate of Men’s Clinic South Africa, which specialises in the treatment of men’s sexual problems and other health challenges. A 1978 graduate of Medicine from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Denloye has over 30 years experience in the medical profession. He speaks on the rationale behind setting up the clinic in Nigeria, saying “we are going to help families to heal strained relationships.”
Why is your clinic strictly for men?
The reason it is called Men’s Clinic is simply because it is designed to solve men’s sexual problems. But you know that a man’s sexual problems do not end with him; it is a family problem that involves a man and a woman. So, once you solve the man’s problem, you have virtually solved the woman’s problems. Actually, from the parent company in South Africa, there are also preparations for women’s sexual problems such as reduced libido and other sexual dysfunctions. So, we can still take care of those issues.
Actually, Men’s Clinic Nigeria is just a franchise of Men’s Clinic International based in South Africa. We use exactly the same medications they use over there and also run the business the way it is run in South Africa. Meanwhile, we are the first to set up this kind of clinic for men in Nigeria.
And because we are affiliated to the parent company in South Africa, our patients here can walk into any of our 90 clinics in South Africa any time they are there to book their appointments without paying any consultation fee there.
What informed your decision to bring this kind of clinic to Nigeria?
I have been in private practice for over 30 years. It is now known that men’s sexual health has not been adequately taken care of. It is a medical and social problem, and for whatever reason, because of the kind of society we are, people tend to keep quiet about it. It is not something that is discussed freely but we know that many people are suffering in silence. Of course, you know that if a married couple cannot have a healthy sexual relationship, it is going to strain their relationship. And it has a major impact on families. That is why we decided to bring the clinic to Nigeria. We feel that we are going to help families to heal strained relationships.
There is now a lot of emphasis on men’s sexual health unlike before when attention was squarely focused on the woman once it is perceived that the family having fertility challenges. Why the current balance of emphasis?
Then, the society was being unfair to women; it is as simple as that. They just assumed that if a woman cannot get pregnant it is her fault. Now, the facts are clear that it is a 50-50 situation, so you have to look at both sexes.
Let me also clarify that there is a difference between sexual health and infertility. Infertility simply means the inability of the couple to have children. So, the couple may be able to have adequate sex but they are infertile. And a man may not be fertile and may not be able to have adequate sex. So, the two are not interchangeable; infertility simple means that they cannot conceive after having proper sex. But the only way you can stretch it is that if a man cannot have sex, how is his wife going to conceive. But the fact that the man cannot have sex does not mean that his sperm count is not good enough to lead to pregnancy, which means that if you do artificial insemination, it can lead to pregnancy but not through sexual act, which he cannot perform. So, there is a difference between impotence and sterility. A man may be sterile and impotent; a man may be impotent but not sterile.
Fertility issue is a major challenge to many couples these days. In fact, a recent report put it that one out of seven couples are having fertility challenges. Given your experience in this field, what do you think leads to this problem?
Well, that is really for the gynaecology to talk about but basically there are so many reasons people are infertile. As I said earlier, it could be from the female side or the male side. And it could be both of them. The first thing you want to appreciate is that conception, if I want to look at it from a religious perspective, is a miracle. A lot of things must be right; quite a number of things must fit in for pregnancy to occur. So, if you have to go through 20 doors to achieve pregnancy, you can appreciate the fact that if just one door is closed, it is going to be difficult. So, there are so many causes of infertility. The females have their own; the males have their own.
As a whole, the human fertility process is not an efficient process. It is only 20 to 25 per cent of couples that want to get pregnant do so at any point in time unlike other species of animals that produce in thousands. But man’s own is very slow and deliberate. And it may not be unconnected with the fact that science has put in place a very strict process to make sure that what comes out is clean and proper. You know there are issues of miscarriages and babies born with some challenges. So, because the body has to make sure that every potential baby is normal, the screening for such babies is high and as such the product is going to be restricted. That is why it is not easy to conceive because nature has made it so, so that you can have a higher rate of normal babies.
The females have problems with ovulation, hormones, tubes, uterine lining, vaginal canal, infections and also compatibility, a situation where the female produces antibodies against the man’s sperm and she cannot get pregnant. In the man’s case, there is the problem of production of inadequate sperm or none at all. Usually the man’s case is very straight forward and it can be caused by infection. Some people have had tuberculosis of the testes and they cannot produce any sperm. Other forms of infection can damage the testes. There are some professions that also contribute to infertility in men. The testes are outside the body because they operate at a much lower temperature. So, somebody who does long distance driving day in day out is going to increase the temperature of the testes and this will reduce its production ability. So, long distance driving is professional hazard for child bearing. So, those are some of the causes but sometimes some couples are not just compatible.
Do you see modern lifestyles as contributing to increasing rate of infertility challenges in the society today unlike in the olden days?
I don’t want to speculate on the figure that I don’t have, whether the rate of infertility is increasing or not. But don’t forget that in those days you are talking about, you could only determine things you were aware of. It is just because people are more exposed now that they appreciate that there is infertility. There has always been infertility in the society. Whether it is growing or not, I really don’t have the figure and I won’t comment on that. However, lifestyle like people engaging in sex at an earlier age, may lead to pelvic infection that can cause infertility.
You are providing a novel service in the country. How would you educate Nigerians on the therapies you offer here?
Basically, because it is men’s clinic, we are supposed to be looking after men’s sexual health such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and inadequate sperm count, among other forms of sexual dysfunctions. Now, it is known that these are signs of cardiovascular problems, which also lead to other medical problems down the line. So, one of the main reasons we have set up this place is to say that if you have erectile dysfunction, it does not stop at that. It is a sign of a cardiac problem five to 10 years down the line. So, what we are encouraging people to do is if you have erectile dysfunction, screen for all these other cardiovascular conditions so that we can identify them properly and put things in place to prevent disasters that would come. So, apart from solving your sexual problem, you are also solving your other medical problems that will come in years to come.
As you know, most men don’t run regular medical check ups. So, what we have decided to do is to include some screening processes that are related to men’s health to it. These include screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and prostrate cancer, among others, that would allow a man to identify his medical problems and take appropriate actions.
What advice do you have for Nigerians battling some of the challenges you have discussed here?
The advice is very simple. The Bible says my people perish for lack of knowledge. If you have a problem, you should go and seek proper medical attention. The whole idea is that everybody should have a doctor, hospital or clinic that he or she attends. People should not be ashamed to go to their doctor and talk about their medical challenges for proper medical care.