Are you trying to conceive but it isn’t happening according to your plan? You then begin to wonder whether you or your partner have fertility problems. For many couples like you and your partner, infertility can be the biggest challenge in building your ideal family. But, just know that you’re not alone.
In Singapore, about 15 per cent of couples have trouble conceiving within 12 months after their initial attempt. Oftentimes, infertility is attributed to women but men can have infertility problems too. In some cases, infertility problems can be attributed to both partners.
While infertility problems continue to plague couples worldwide, there are plenty of fertility treatment options available in Singapore. Also, fertility treatment has become more affordable and effective with fewer side effects.
Fertility Treatment Options
When it comes to treating infertility in men and women, it usually depends on several factors such as causes of infertility, infertility period, age, and personal preferences. Bear in mind that fertility treatment may involve significant financial, physical, psychological and time commitments.
There are three types of fertility treatment in Singapore – medication, surgery, and assisted conception such as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). Ahead, we’re sharing some of the recommended fertility treatments for men and women.
Treatment for Men
Treating men’s fertility problems can include surgery, medication, and assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Surgery can remove blockages that prevent the sperm from being present during ejaculation. Also, it can correct conditions like varicocele. In some cases, surgery allows for direct sperm retrieval which can be used for ART treatments.
Meanwhile, consuming certain medication can treat issues such as hormonal imbalances as well as other conditions that affect male fertility such as erectile dysfunction or infections that affect sperm count.
ART treatments involve handling the eggs and sperm outside the body. It includes IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The sperm for these treatments are received from male ejaculation, surgery, or a donor.
Treatment for Women
Treating female fertility problems also involves surgery, medication, and ART treatments. In some cases, more treatment may be needed to help address female fertility problems.
While surgery is typically recommended to treat female fertility problems, it has become rarer due to various advancements in other fertility treatments. Nonetheless, surgery can help improve female fertility by correcting abnormally-shaped uterus, unblocking fallopian tubes, and removing fibroids.
Meanwhile, consuming certain medication can help treat hormonal imbalance as well as to either encourage or regulate ovulation.
ART treatments for women can include Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and IVF procedure. During IUI, sperms are injected into the woman’s uterus near the time of ovulation. IVF, on the other hand, involves the retrieval of eggs and sperms to be fertilised in a laboratory. The embryo is later placed back into the uterus.
Infertility: Causes, Diagnosis & Risk
Causes of Infertility in Men and Women
Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors and sometimes, may not have a clear cause. It can also affect either one or both partners. About one-third of infertility cases are attributed to the male while another one-third is attributed to female. The remaining one-third is attributed to both partners or no clear cause.
Causes of male infertility
Generally, male infertility may include:
- Abnormal sperm production or function due to undescended testicles, genetic defects, health problems, or infections.
- Ejaculation disorders such as premature ejaculation, genetic diseases, structural problems, or injury to reproductive organs.
- Exposure to a certain environment such as substance use, pesticides, chemicals, and frequent exposure to heat.
- Side effects related to cancer and its treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy.
Causes of female infertility
Female infertility may be attributed to:
- Ovulation disorders that affect the release of eggs from the ovaries and hormonal disorders.
- Uterine or cervical abnormalities such as growth in the uterus or shape of the uterus.
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus.
- Early menopause due to immune system diseases or certain genetic conditions.
- Pelvic adhesions as bands of scar tissue bind organs after infection, appendicitis, endometriosis or surgery.
- Cancer and its treatment, especially reproductive cancers.
The risk factors for both male and female fertility problems are similar which include:
- Age – Female fertility declines with age, especially when they’re in their mid-30s. It’s likely due to the lower number and quality of eggs produced. Male fertility too declines, after the age of 40.
- Substance use – Smoking or drinking alcohol by both male and female can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. It may also reduce the effectiveness of fertility treatment.
- Being overweight – For females who are overweight, it increases the risk of infertility while males may experience lower sperm count.
- Being underweight – Females with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia risk fertility problems. It also involves those who follow a very low-calorie or restrictive diet.
- Exercise issues – A lack of exercise may contribute to health problems such as obesity while intense exercise may increase infertility risk in those who are underweight.
Diagnosis of infertility in men and women
Before your doctor or specialist recommends the suitable fertility treatment, they will try to understand your sexual habits and conduct medical tests including a physical examination. Keep in mind that infertility evaluation can be expensive and sometimes, involve uncomfortable procedures.
Fertility tests for men
Aside from a physical examination, you may have to undergo specific tests such as a semen analysis, hormone and genetic testing, testicular biopsy, and imaging tests.
In some cases, you may have to undergo another specific testing to evaluate your sperm quality for DNA abnormalities.
Fertility tests for women
Along with a physical examination by your general physician, you may be required to undergo several testing such as ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hysterosalpingography, hormone testing, and imaging tests. Very rarely that you’ll be required to undergo hysteroscopy or laparoscopy unless it’s necessary. These are just the fertility tests that you or your partner may be required to undergo to find the cause of your fertility problems. Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you can choose to have any of the tests, anytime you prefer. Be sure to consult a fertility specialist clinic like The O&G Specialist Clinic to get suitable medical insights and quality advice.