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Prevalence and factors associated with use of herbal medicine among women attending an infertility clinic in Uganda

Abstract

Background

Infertility is a public health problem associated with devastating psychosocial consequences. In countries where infertility care is difficult to access, women turn to herbal medicines to achieve parenthood. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with herbal medicine use by women attending the infertility clinic.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study of 260 women attending the infertility clinic at Mulago hospital. The interviewer administered questionnaire comprised socio-demographic characteristics, infertility-related aspects and information on herbal medicine use. The main outcome measure was herbal medicines use for infertility treatment. Determinants of herbal medicine use were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.

Results

The majority (76.2%) of respondents had used herbal medicines for infertility treatment. The mean age of the participants was 28.3 years ± 5.5. Over 80% were married, 59.6% had secondary infertility and 2/3 of the married participants were in monogamous unions. In a multivariable model, the variables that were independently associated with increased use of herbal medicine among infertile patients were being married (OR 2.55, CI 1.24-5.24), never conceived (OR 4.08 CI 1.86-8.96) and infertility for less than 3 years (OR 3.52 CI 1.51-8.821). Factors that were associated with less use of herbal medicine among infertile women were being aged 30 years or less (OR 0.18 CI 0.07-0.46), primary and no education (OR 0.12 CI 0.05-0.46) and living with partner for less than three years (OR 0.39 CI 0.16-0.93).

Conclusions

The prevalence of herbal medicine use among women attending the infertility clinic was 76.2%. Herbal medicine use was associated with the participants’ age, level of education, marital status, infertility duration, nulliparity, and duration of marriage. Medical care was often delayed and the majority of the participants did not disclose use of herbal medicines to the attending physician. Health professionals should enquire about use of herbal medicines. This may help in educating the patients about the health risks of using herbal medicine and may reduce delays in seeking appropriate care. Collaboration of health professionals with herbal medicine practitioners would help identify the common herbal medicines used for infertility treatment, their potential benefits and harm.