Better Together: Couples should undergo fertility assessments together
If you and your partner are having problems conceiving, it is encouraged that you should show mutual support by going for fertility assessments together
First comes love, then comes marriage, and next should be the baby in a carriage, right?
But unfortunately for some couples adding a baby into the equation is not as easy as it seems and the fertility journey may prove to be a rather uphill and rocky one.
theAsianparent spoke to Dr Yeong Cheng Toh and Dr Fong Yang, Fertility Specialists at Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore, for some expert advice about fertility issues and how couples should seek treatment together.
1. What are the fertility problems that Singaporean couples face?
Up to 1 in 6 Singaporean couples can experience difficulties when trying for a baby and up to a third of couples will have difficulties due to a combination of male and female factors.
After a woman’s age, male infertility is the single biggest reason a couple may have trouble conceiving.
Infertility in women can be caused by an ovulation disorder, blockages in the fallopian tubes or other complications in the uterine environment.
Some of the most common conditions that can affect a woman’s fertility include Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and fibroids.
Endometriosis is a common fertility issue faced by Singaporean women.
It is a common condition affecting one in 10 women, especially women over the age of 30 who have not yet had children.
Endometriosis can affect a woman’s fertility by altering the uterine environment, making it difficult for a fertilised embryo to implant.
It may also affect the quality of the egg produced for fertilisation.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is another common fertility problem.
It is a hormonal condition that affects up to one in five women of reproductive age, and can make it more difficult to become pregnant naturally.
PCOS affects a woman’s fertility because the ovaries of women diagnosed with PCOS contain small cysts or follicles which may not produce eggs capable of being fertilised.
The most common cause of male infertility is azoospermia – where no spermatozoa are produced and/ or found in the ejaculate and oligospermia – where fewer spermatozoa are produced.
Sometimes spermatozoa are malformed, and in rare cases genetic diseases may be at fault.
Other specific conditions include immunological infertility where men develop antibodies against their own sperm, and retrograde ejaculation where sperm is not ejaculated through the urethra but into the urinary bladder and blockages in the vas deferens, due to injury or a previous vasectomy or subnormal quality of sperms.
2. Why is it important for couples to both go for a fertility assessment together?
Infertility is a complex medical condition affecting around 15% of the population.
In 40% of couples the cause of infertility is attributed to a sperm factor, in another 40% the cause is found within the female reproductive system, and a third will have a combination of male and female factors.
It is important for couples to go for fertility assessments together as infertility issues affect both men and women.
Although infertility is often thought of as a women’s condition since a woman’s age is the most significant factor affecting a couple’s chance of conception, research shows that male infertility is the next most significant factor affecting a couple’s inability to conceive.
Go to the next page to find out more about the fertility treatments available
3. What are the treatments and options available for couples affected by infertility?
Based on the results of a fertility assessment, the fertility specialist will recommend treatment options to facilitate the best path to pregnancy.
This may involve lifestyle changes, timed intercourse or surgery to rectify any underlying conditions.
It may also include fertility treatments such as ovulation induction, IUI (where prepared semen is inserted through the next of the womb close to the time of ovulation), or IVF (placing eggs removed from the ovary, with many sperm to facilitate fertilisation and embryo development in the laboratory, before transferring the embryo back into the womb).
4. What else can couples do to improve their fertility and chances of conceiving naturally?
Fertility in both women and the men can be affected by lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive drinking or being severely under or overweight.
A healthy body mass index is recommended supported by balanced diet and lifestyle.
A key for couples to improve their chance of conception is to seek help early.
If it is taking longer than expected to conceive, couples should see a fertility specialist for medical assessment and advice.
For women who are 35 years old or older, seek help early if you have been trying for a child for 6 months naturally without success.
For women who are below 35 years of age, seek help if you have been trying for a child for more than a year.
Heed the advice from a fertility expert or counsellor, as infertility is a medical condition with a range of treatment options available.
Remember that you and your partner are in this fertility journey together, so if you have been trying for a baby for quite some time without any success, it is important that you both go for fertility assessments together.
It is better to seek help and treatment early, rather than be in the dark about your infertility woes and not know what exactly the problem is.
By seeking help early and with the right fertility treatments, hopefully soon you and your partner will be finally welcoming that much-awaited bundle of joy into your lives!
Are you and your partner facing any problems conceiving? Have you gone for fertility assessments together? Do share your stories with us below. For more information about fertility options and treatments available, please visit: www.virtusfertilitycentre.com.sg