How long should couples try, before seeking medical help on fertility issues? The KKIVF Centre, KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) shares advice and one couple's journey with in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Fertility treatment: A couple’s journey
Mdm Celeste Tay* (not her real name) and her husband had been married for five years before they considered having a child. By that time, she was 40 years old. They saw a fertility specialist who found that Mdm Tay had a blocked fallopian tube and reduced egg reserves due to a cyst removal done 10 years before.
After consulting Dr Steven Teo, Consultant at the KKIVF Centre,
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the
SingHealth group, the couple decided to undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Treatment meant Mdm Tay had to have injections every morning for two weeks. Despite her fear of needles, she persisted, as she really wanted a child. Her husband was supportive and administered the injections. He also helped with the household chores and cooked special meals for her on weekends.
They were disappointed when the first cycle of IVF failed, but delighted when the second one succeeded. Mdm Tay became pregnant, and nine months later became the mother of a healthy baby boy.
Her advice to other couples going down the same route: “Stay calm, relaxed and free from external pressures.”
When to seek medical help for fertility issues?
Mdm Tay and her husband are among many couples who seek help each year at KKH to conceive.
But how long should a couple try on their own before seeking help? Dr Teo advises healthy couples to try on their own for at least a year first. Those who need help early are women above 38, those with endometriosis (where the womb lining is outside the womb, causing pain), women who fail to ovulate and so have irregular menstrual cycles, and couples with known disorders that affect fertility.
Common causes of female infertility are ovulation disorders, damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, and endometriosis. In men it is usually low sperm count, abnormality in sperm shape, or even the total absence of sperm in the semen, resulting in the inability to fertilise any eggs.