Deciding to start a family is a time of anticipation, excitement, and great joy for couples. But in some cases, couples may have infertility challenges, which can make the experience a struggle.
When a problem like this arises, how do you seek help? It’s easy to become impatient if you don’t get pregnant right away, but it’s also imperative you don’t delay asking for help if you think there’s a fertility problem involved. Subfertility refers to an unwanted delay in conception despite unprotected regular sexual intercourse and is usually defined as one year of ‘trying’ without success.
In this blog, we’ll tackle subfertility and how long you should try to get pregnant the natural way before consulting with a healthcare provider.
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Infertility in Singapore
Just like in many countries across the globe, many couples in Singapore find it hard to get pregnant even after trying for so long.
The Academy of Medicine Singapore estimates that as of 2013, one in seven couples experience infertility problems.
Further, the Department of Statistics Singapore reports declining fertility among those who are below 30 years old between 1980 and 2021. The age specific fertility rate decline in females between 25 to 29 years old from 144.5 in 1980 to 53.4 per thousand females in 2021.
The resident total fertility rate has declined over the past decades, which is similar to other developed countries. For 2021, the resident TFR is at 1.12 compared with 1.96 in 1988.
Research also shows that an estimated 15 percent in Singapore are unable to conceive within one year of trying. In about 39 percent of these cases, female subfertility has been tagged as the main cause.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of the cases were due to male subfertility, and 26 percent were caused by subfertility in both partners.
The most common causes of subfertility in women include ovulation problems, problems with the reproductive organs, certain disorders like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, early-onset menopause, being overweight or underweight, smoking or substance abuse, and if she is over 35 years old.
When to seek fertility help
Subfertility affects both men and women. Most couples will achieve pregnancy within 12 months of trying. Subfertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year or longer of regular unprotected sex. This is different from couples who can get pregnant but have recurrent miscarriages.
Most healthcare professionals recommend seeking professional help from an infertility doctor if a couple has not achieved getting pregnant after a year of unprotected sex.
For women over 35 years old, however, you don’t need to wait a full year — seek help from a doctor immediately. Women in this age bracket should be evaluated after trying for only six months since the age-related decline in fertility is faster in the mid to late 30s and 40s.
Women with underlying health conditions who are trying to get pregnant should seek infertility evaluation from a doctor.
In a nutshell, you should seek fertility treatment if:
- You’re younger than 35 but have been trying to get pregnant for over one year.
- You’re over 35 and trying to get pregnant to no avail for at least 6 months.
- You’re trying to get pregnant but you have medical conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis or past miscarriage.
- You’re trying to get pregnant but experience irregular periods, no periods, or very painful periods (dysmenorrhea).
- If you and your partner think there’s something wrong with the male partner, particularly a history of past trauma on the testicles or a history of infertility with a past partner.
Why early infertility evaluation is important
An infertility evaluation is important for couples experiencing fertility issues. This includes a battery of tests used to find the reasons why you can’t conceive. If the cause is identified, you will undergo fertility treatment.
An initial workup aims to determine the cause of subfertility and the possible treatments suitable for the couple. This includes a review of the medical history, physical assessment, and additional tests as needed. For women, the workup will focus on determining ovulatory function, structural or anatomical abnormalities, and ovarian reserve. Men, on the other hand, may undergo a semen analysis.
Getting evaluated early is imperative for couples, especially those who are older. As women’s fertility declines with age, those who have problems getting pregnant must consult with a fertility doctor to assist with conception. These include tips and guidelines on how to get pregnant faster, including lifestyle modifications.
The earlier you get fertility treatment, the more successful it will be to bear a child. Seeking fertility evaluation and treatment from a fertility doctor will help you understand the problem and address them sooner.
How to find a fertility doctor in Singapore
You’ve been trying to get pregnant for at least one year to no avail, what’s the next step? As discussed earlier, seeking help for fertility issues sooner is crucial.
Finding a fertility doctor who specialises in helping couples achieve pregnancy is challenging. It’s important to take note of certain factors, including training, track record, and specialisation.
An obstetrician and gynaecologist is trained to diagnose and treat reproductive issues in women and manage their health and well-being. To assist couples with infertility issues, doctors should be trained to treat infertility and perform surgical reproductive operations eg removal of ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometrial polyps, unblocking obstructed fallopian tubes or removing septums (uterine cavity wall) that may hinder fertility. Assisted reproductive techniques include Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be needed.
Overall, infertility affects many couples in Singapore. Seeking fertility help sooner is crucial to achieving pregnancy. More importantly, finding a trained doctor to assist you in your journey is important to receive the services you need to combat infertility.
Starting a family creates feelings of excitement, but if you experience fertility issues, it’s recommended to seek fertility help right away. At the Dr Pamela Tan Clinic, we are all active participants in helping you grow your family, priding ourselves with a good track record in subfertility treatment and surgery.
Seeking fertility help right away will help you achieve this dream faster. Set your appointment and we are here to help you in this exciting time in your life. You can make an appointment with us today by calling +65 6254 2878 or sending a message here.
Dr Pamela Tan is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist in Singapore. She finished her undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore and earned her post-graduate degree at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK. She is an accredited specialist by the Specialist Accreditation Board (Ministry of Health), and a fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. She subspecialises in colposcopy and is certified to perform Level 3 minimally invasive keyhole surgeries such as laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy and cystectomy. Dr Pam also supports the natural birthing method and she strives to provide a personalised care and treatment for each patient.