- Factors that cause infertility affect both men and women, including lifestyle habits and pre-existing conditions
- Couples should visit a fertility doctor to diagnose the issue and receive the appropriate treatments
Kuala Lumpur, December 23 – Children are the apple of their parents’ eye, but conceiving may not be as simple or direct for all couples. Unfortunately, this may lead to distress and finger pointing, most of which usually rest on the woman’s shoulders.
However, infertility is an issue that affects both men and women, with infertility among men on the rise. According to a study by the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN), the fertility level among men below the age of 30 had decreased by 15% from 2010 to 2019. The male factor is also thought to contribute to up to 30% of cases of infertility.
Dr Farah Leong Rahman, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity’s Consultant Fertility Specialist, Obstetrics & Gynaecologist says, “Infertility affects 1 in 7 couples – some of the causes include lack of regular ovulation, which is commonly seen in patients with polycystic ovaries, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis and poor semen quality. However, in a quarter of cases, it is not possible to identify the cause, in which case we label it as ‘unexplained infertility’,” she explains.
However, this does not spell the end for every couple as some of these causes can be addressed by making simple, but effective changes to their lifestyle. A healthy and balanced diet is crucial in keeping one’s body in peak condition, while smoking and drinking should not be practiced.
Exercising regularly and maintaining an ideal body weight can also be a great help. Dr Farah also stresses the importance of visiting a doctor first to ensure any underlying medical conditions such as Diabetes are being treated and kept under control if the couple is attempting any form of treatment to prevent any untoward incidents.
Moving on to the next stage
In the unfortunate event that a couple is unsuccessful in getting pregnant after a year, Dr Farah suggests that couples make a visit to their trusted fertility doctor to figure out their next steps.
“Do see the fertility doctor if the woman is 35 years and above, as the fertility rate declines with age. The ovaries will have fewer eggs to offer and may be of poorer quality. It is also important to take note of other factors such as the patient having undergone any treatment or procedure that may result in infertility such as cancer treatments, or any previous surgeries related to the female reproductive organs such as removal of fallopian tubes, as all these may affect the fertility rate,” Dr Farah says.
“The doctor will carry out hormonal blood tests for the woman. One of the tests is called ‘Anti-Mullerian Hormone’ which helps us estimate how much eggs a woman has in reserve. A tubal patency test is advised to check if the woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked or not. As for the man, sperm test is necessary as we look at the numbers, motility and forms,” Dr Farah explains.
Dr Farah adds that men with a history of undescended testes, problems with pubertal development, previous genital surgery or infection, fertility problems in current or previous relationships, problems with erection or ejaculation are advised to see the fertility doctor.
She further elaborates that it would be best if the couple are present together during the consultation, as the doctor will ask questions to get to know the couple more in order to help them.
“The doctor will also carry out an ultrasound to check the womb and ovaries. If you do have any previous test results please do bring it along. A thorough discussion will then be carried out and fertility tests will be offered if not done. The treatment options may be different for each couple depending on the underlying problem and discussions made,” she says.
Journeying through the process together
Couples who face difficulty in getting pregnant may go through emotional and mental exhaustion, with some falling into depression, bouts of frustration, anger or loss of self-esteem. Here, Dr Farah insists on the importance of giving and receiving support, especially from each other, family members and friends.
“It is important to be honest about your feelings and able to express it in the right way. There are also support groups out there and counsellors if one needs help. Good mental and emotional health should be present throughout this period and continue when you are pregnant. Always remember that you are not alone in this journey,” she concludes.
Sunway Medical Centre Velocity is located at Lingkaran SV, Sunway Velocity. For enquiries, please contact +603 9772 9191 or email [email protected] For more information on Sunway Medical Centre Velocity, visit www.sunmedvelocity.com.my (Facebook: Sunway Medical Velocity).