You might think fertility issues are rare, because nobody is talking about it. The fact is, fertility problem affect as much as 15% of married couple, and this number is comparable to the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in Malaysia. It is still a sensitive topic among Asian families, thus peoples choose not to discuss it openly. We, the typical Asian will tell the whole world if we get a baby, but tell nobody if we can’t get one. And please, mind you, never ever ask someone if they are having fertility problem, unless they want to share with you first.
2. Female fertility rate decline with age
Every woman is born with a certain number of oocytes (eggs) in their ovary. Once they attain menarche, their egg number decline proportionately every month until menopause when complete egg depletion occurs. However, after the age of 35, the decline becomes more drastic and the egg quality deteriorates. In short, the older you are, the less productive you become.
3. Men-No-Pause is a myth
All this while people thought men’s age does not affect fertility. This has been proven wrong by some recent studies. When men age, DNA inside his sperms become fragile and fragmented. These sperms are less likely to penetrate the eggshell (oocyte wall) and more likely to produce abnormal offspring. Men-No-Pause is just an ego-boosting misnomer.
4. Most couples would conceive in the first year of marriage
If couples are not using contraception, 8 out of 10 of them will conceive within first year of marriage. For those who do not, half of them would get pregnant during the second year. The longer the time needed trying to conceive, the lesser is the chance of success. Of course, this will too depend on how hardworking these couples are.
5. Infertility is not only the female problem
If you live in Stone Age and ancient civilization, you would believe that infertility is all women’s fault. That is what we understand from some Chinese or Indian soap drama. In actual fact, men and women contribute about 30% of infertility causes respectively. The rest of 40% is what we called ‘unexplained infertility’. And I always tell my patients, ‘If both of you want a baby, it doesn’t matter who causes the problem. Since you share the same aim, this will become the responsibility of both of you ‘.
6. Regular sexual intercourse is the best way to get pregnant
Having intercourse every 3 days will give you the best chance of getting pregnant. Having intercourse too frequently will burn you out. On the other hand, you could miss the ‘golden fertile window’ by having long interval in between intercourse. Should you ask why 3 days in particular? Please proceed to Fact number 7.
7. Women have ‘fertile window’
The time around ovulation (release of egg from ovary) is the fertile period. Ovulation always happens 14 days prior to your next period. Some women can feel ovulation pain; some women can feel increase in vaginal discharge during ovulation. If you can’t, you can use ‘ovulation test kit’ which you can get in any pharmacy or drug store. Once sperms are inside the female body, they can survive for about 3 to 5 days. (By having regular intercourse every 3 days, there will be live sperm inside female body at any given time) However, after ovulation egg can only survive for 24 hours. Thus, the ‘fertile window’ is 5 days before till 1 day after ovulation. If you feel this is difficult to understand, kindly refer back to Fact number 6 and follow strictly.
Dr. Wai Kok Yau is a consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist in TMC Fertility and Women’s Specialist Centre, Kota Damansara and Kepong, Malaysia.