For many couples, having a baby serves as the ultimate achievement in their relationship. Sadly, there are a good number of couples who are having difficulty in conceiving. In an article published in TheAsianParent, an estimated 15 percent of couples living in Singapore do not achieve a successful pregnancy within one year of trying to conceive.
Six factors have been found to contribute to difficulty in conception among couples in Singapore. Thankfully, treatments are available that will cause fewer side effects and there are also IVF centres that will assist couples in having a baby. In addition, many of these treatments come with government support, so that if you select the co-funding option, the treatment becomes more affordable to you.
Let us take a look at the 6 factors contributing to conception difficulties in Singapore…
1) Hormonal imbalance
The most common factor is hormonal imbalance and this manifests as irregular menstrual cycles. In some cases, periods may be very short; in others, the periods tend to be long. It may also be characterised as heavy bleeding with accompanying pain in the pelvic region (dysmenorrhoea). Hormonal imbalance may cause anovulation (wherein the woman does not produce eggs) and/or it may affect the quality of the eggs.
Serious hormonal imbalances may occur in those that are overweight/obesity or underweight. When you are overweight or obese, body fat levels that exceed the normal range by 10 to 15 percent will result in an overload of oestrogen and ovulation may either be inadequate or not occur at all. This is further aggravated by body fats that accumulate in the midsection, which causes a spike in testosterone levels.
In contrast, when you are underweight, your oestrogen production is significantly reduced so that you have an abnormal menstrual cycle. In some severe cases, you may not develop menstruation at all (amenorrhoea).
3) Presence of reproductive and endocrine diseases
Conception difficulties have been attributed to three specific diseases, namely endometriosis, PCOS and fallopian tube disease.
In endometriosis, endometrial tissue – the tissue that lines the uterus – grows outside the uterus, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels and bladder. This condition creates scar tissues and cysts that may prevent egg release and the transfer of the egg to the fallopian tubes. It may also prevent egg implantation in the uterine wall.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that is characterised by cysts that develop inside the ovaries resulting in heavy, painful periods and anovulation.
Fallopian tube disease is characterised by scarring or blockage of the fallopian tubes due to sexually transmitted diseases, tubal ligation, and pelvic inflammatory disease. This causes the tubes to be blocked, in effect, the egg and sperm transfer is prevented.
4) Presence of autoimmune disorders
Infertility has been noted in women suffering from thyroid disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions may prevent successful fertilization, prevent implantation to the uterine wall, and cause difficulties in maintaining the pregnancy after implantation has occurred (resulting in miscarriages).
5) Lifestyle factors
Smoking and alcohol drinking have long been documented to cause infertility in both women and men. Smoking not only increases infertility risk in women; it can also impair sperm production and cause poor sperm quality in men. The risk significantly decreases once the habit is stopped. Even a moderate consumption of alcohol of 5 drinks or less per week has been found to impair fertility.
6) Environmental factors
Not too many couples are aware that certain factors in the environment can have a detrimental effect on fertility. This would include exposure to harmful household chemicals, high temperatures, microwave or electromagnetic emissions, and overwhelming emotional and psychological stresses.