When will you finally meet your bundle of joy?
Two of Singapore's most experienced fertility specialists Dr Kelly Loi and Dr Suresh Nair from Mount Elizabeth Hospital share their tips and advice on fertility problems and how to get pregnant, faster.
Deciding that you’re ready to become parents is exciting. After all, after about nine months, you’ll be holding your sweet little baby in your arms and starting out a whole new exciting chapter in life as a family.
However, while getting pregnant can be simple for some, it can be challenging for others who try for many months, even years, to conceive without success.
When you do decide to start a family, it helps to have some expert tips on how to increase your chances of conception. Two highly experienced fertility specialists from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Kelly Loi and Dr Suresh Nair, bring you some crucial information about this.
A few things to keep in mind for getting pregnant faster
Start sooner than later
According to Dr Nair, the younger the woman is when she starts trying to get pregnant (ideally before age 34), the better her chances are. He explains, “In women between 20 and 35 years of age, where both partners are healthy, 90 percent of couples will conceive within 12 to 18 months of trying.”
Dr Loi agrees, explaining that the likelihood of conceiving falls from 20 percent per month for a woman in her 20s to just eight percent by her late 30s. With increasing age, the number of functioning follicles in a woman’s ovaries decreases similarly to the quality of her eggs.
Ageing is also accompanied with a general decline in general health. These factors combined may result in fertility problems, where conception is difficult and/or the risk of genetic abnormalities is increased.
Improve your health, improve your odds
Maintaining a healthy body weight, getting regular physical activity, and stopping smoking can all increase a couple’s chances of pregnancy success. Dr Nair explains that obesity in women can have a negative impact on their fertility levels and can result in irregular ovulation and menstrual cycles. What’s more, “research shows that obese men are three times more likely to exhibit a reduction in semen quality.”
But being underweight can be as damaging because low body weight (a Body Mass Index below 20) affects estrogen production, which interferes with ovulation.
Dr Loi also advises smokers to kick the habit. Smoking is harmful to a woman’s ovaries, accelerating egg loss and possibly advancing the age of menopause. “Studies indicate that smoking can predispose the eggs to genetic abnormalities and increase the risk of miscarriage,” she says.
Male smokers should drop the habit too, with abnormalities in sperm production, quality, and quantity and the possibility of impotence due to blood vessel damage high on the list.
Couples trying for a baby are also advised to limit alcohol intake to twice a day. Also, women are encouraged to limit coffee intake to one cup a day as high levels of caffeine are associated with decreased fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage
Be physically prepared
Both Dr Nair and Dr Loi recommend pre-conception health screening for women who want to get pregnant. This screening checks if there are any medical issues that might affect pregnancy and fertility. If any problems are identified, then they can be addressed early.
Here are some of the tests that may be conducted during such a health screening:
- Ultrasound examination: this checks the condition of your reproductive organs and can detect the presence of any cysts or fibroids that can impact fertilization or implantation.
- Pap smear: this test can detect abnormalities in the cervical cells so that they can be treated prior to pregnancy.
- Blood tests: routine blood tests screen for maternal blood count, blood group, and Rhesus D antigen status, as well as hepatitis B, HIV, syphilis and rubella immunity. All these conditions could influence your health and fertility.
Health screening also provides a good opportunity to discuss diet and lifestyle issues, as well as ways to increase fertility.
Keep on trying
It can be disheartening when you try to get pregnant for a few months without results. But both Dr Loi and Dr Nair encourage hopeful couples to keep trying for at least a year before seeking help.
While the length of time to conception varies greatly with age, generally, around 70 percent of couples will be pregnant within six months of trying. Within the first year, 80 percent to 90 percent of trying couples should have conceived.
How to increase the odds
Couples who are trying to get pregnant naturally are advised to have sex during their fertile window – the five days leading up to ovulation and of course ovulation day itself when the woman’s body releases an egg. Dr Loi says, “Your egg will survive for about a day once released from the ovary, but sperm can survive for up to a week, hence there is a six-day window for sperm to meet an egg.”
You should look for signs of ovulation including changes in vaginal discharge, where the cervical mucous becomes thin and resembles the texture of egg whites, a rise in basal body temperature, and a mild abdominal cramp in the middle of the menstrual cycle.
Dr Loi also recommends having regular sex every two to three days throughout the month as this improves the quality of sperm compared to prolonged periods of abstinence.
When to seek professional help
If you and your partner remain unsuccessful after trying for a year, then it’s probably time to get some professional help, says Dr Loi, as you may be experiencing fertility problems.
Women over age 35, however, can start seeing a fertility specialist after six months of trying.
Also, if you have irregular or painful periods, then it’s best to see a fertility specialist as soon as you can, as these could be symptoms of a gynaecological disorder.
Where can you go to for help?
One in seven Singaporean couples suffers from infertility problems. If you are one of these couples, take heart from knowing that the experts at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre can help.
This centre — with more than 25 years of experience — provides comprehensive expert fertility care, ranging from diagnosis and treatment, to a specially customized fertility programs in a comfortable, private, and exclusive environment.
Below are their services and procedures:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
- Blastocyst culture and vitrification
- Replacement of frozen thawed embryos (Thaw Cycle)
- Embryo, sperm, and oocyte cryopreservation programme
- Laser-assisted hatching
- Surgical sperm retrieval
- Sperm freeze/thaw trial
- Oocyte retrieval
- Fresh embryo transfer
- Cyst aspiration
- Sperm processing for intrauterine insemination (IUI) or In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
Give them a call to find out more — their contact details are below:
Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre
3 Mount Elizabeth, #03-00
Phone: (+65) 6731 2626
Monday to Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 1.00pm
Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed
For more information about the maternity ward services at Mount Elizabeth Hospital and to book a maternity tour, please call (+65) 6731 2000 or visit www.mountematernity.sg. A virtual tour of the rooms is available at http://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/virtualtour/meh/orchard/single-room.html
Have you or someone you know tried the services at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre? We would love to hear about your experiences, so do tell us about them by posting a comment below.