Low fertility rates have been a problem in Singapore as couples are delaying pregnancy due to the high cost of living. Many couples would prioritise and concentrate on their career, so that they can have sufficient funds before considering starting a family.
However, these delays are not without cost. While women wait until a later age to have their first child, they are not aware that their biological clock is winding down. Women at age 30 have an 84 percent chance of having a child within a year of trying. This success rate drops to 74 percent in women between the ages of 35 and 40. Even men are not spared with the ravages of aging. Male fertility starts to decline by age 40.
This is where fertility screening comes in.
When to Go for a Fertility Screening
There is a misconception that has developed as a result of the definition of the term “infertility,” which is the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy within one year of trying. This definition has led to couples delaying seeking fertility screening for one year or more, in the hope that they will achieve conception naturally.
While the definition of infertility remains the same, fertility specialists in Singapore are now encouraging couples who are planning to have children in the future to go for a fertility screening early.
The rationale for early fertility screening is very simple. Much like health screening, early fertility screening allows for the prompt diagnosis of existing conditions that will affect a woman or a man’s fertility so that they can be treated immediately prior to attempting conception naturally through sexual intercourse.
Who Should Go for an Early Fertility Screening
Any woman who is planning to have a child should undergo an early fertility screening. However, there are specific conditions that would necessitate early fertility assessment:
- Women who want to start a family at age 35 or older
- Women who have suffered from abnormal, irregular and/or painful menses
- Men or women with known abnormalities in their reproductive systems
- Men or women with history of previous abdominal, pelvic or genital surgeries
- Men or women history of infectious diseases that may have affected their reproductive systems
- Couples who are unable to achieve penetrative intercourse
- Cancer survivors
What to Expect During Fertility Screening?
Fertility screening is just like any doctor’s appointment, except that it will be more focused on the intimate aspects of a couple’s health and relationship. The assessment begins by obtaining a detailed medical and sexual history of both the man and the woman.
For the man, some questions asked would include:
- If he has difficulty in achieving and/or maintaining an erection
- If he has a history of prostate or genital surgery
- If he has suffered from infectious diseases that may have affected his reproductive organs
- If he is suffering from chronic health problems (eg. diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, etc.)
For the woman, some questions asked would include:
- If her menstrual cycles are regular or irregular or if she has suffered from painful menses
- If she has a history of abdominal or pelvic surgery
- If she has suffered from infectious diseases that may have affected her reproductive organs
- If she has a history of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- If she has a history of prior conception and/or miscarriages
After the history taking, the fertility specialist will perform a thorough physical examination for the couple, including body mass index and body and visceral fat analysis.
After these preliminaries, the fertility specialist will arrange for the couple to go through a detailed set of tests to understand the couple’s health.
For the wife, blood tests will be conducted to check for any hormonal problems and understand the health status of the wife. Besides going through the blood test, the fertility specialist will also arrange for the wife to go through a diagnostic imaging test – such as an ultrasound of the pelvis – to check on any abnormalities within her reproductive tract.
For the man, a semen analysis would be conducted to assess the semen quantitatively such as sperm concentration and qualitatively such as morphology, motility and vitality.
Last but not least, based on the report of the couple, the fertility specialist will review and advise on lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. The fertility specialist will also create a personalised health management plan to aid the couple in increasing their chance of pregnancy.
Sincere Healthcare Group offers a comprehensive fertility screening programme that will determine the presence of any infertility causes. Our fertility specialists and nursing staff will provide high quality, compassionate, and confidential health care to help you on your way to parenthood.