7 reasons you’re not pregnant yet

Address these seven common culprits that may be sabotaging your fertility to speed up that visit from the stork.

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You’ve watched your wedding video at least 20 times, framed your favourite snaps from the big day, even had time to turn your bouquets into potpourri. But your home pregnancy tests are still drawing a blank…why?

Take heart ― you aren’t alone hitting this frustrating roadblock. “Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse,” notes Dr Yeong Cheng Toh, consultant gynaecologist and reproductive endocrinologist with Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore. “It affects about one in six Singaporean couples ― up to a third of them will have difficulties due to a combination of male and female factors.”
Pinpointing the top reasons why a couple may have trouble conceiving, two fertility doctors give SmartParents expert advice on how to tackle these conditions.

1. AGE

How it affects fertility “Age is the single biggest factor affecting a couple’s chance of conception,” Dr Yeong points out. “Both fertility in men and women are affected by age, although the decline is not as dramatic and finite for men.” Women are born with a fixed number of eggs ― this number drops as they age. So, women, especially those over 35 years old, experience increasing difficulty getting pregnant. In addition, the quality of eggs also drops, which increases the risk of miscarriage. Adds gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Kelly Loi, who runs The Health and Fertility Centre for Women, “In men, an increasing number of studies also indicate that the sperm quality drops with age.”
What you can do about it Start planning your family early, urges Dr Yeong. A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s as her chances of falling pregnant every month is 20 per cent compared to less than 5 per cent when she’s in her 40s. “For men, the odds of fathering a baby is 32 per cent when they are below age 30 and 20 per cent at over 50 years,” he adds. Before age 35, a woman should seek help from a doctor after trying for a baby for a year without any luck. If she’s older than 35, she should do it after six months.

“Both fertility in men and women are affected by age, although the decline is not as dramatic and finite for men.”

2. STRESS

How it affects fertility Although no studies have proven conclusively that stress is a direct cause of infertility, Dr Loi points out that too much pressure can affect ovulation in women and give rise to irregular menstrual periods. Stress may also stem from trying to find the “right” time to conceive, which can affect the libido and also take the joy out of baby making.
What you can do about it Reduce stress ― have sex regularly to maximise your chances for conception, as well as to take the pressure off having intercourse on the day of ovulation. “Having sex 24 to 48 hours prior to ovulation gives a woman the best chance of getting pregnant as she is her most fertile at this time,” Dr Yeong explains.

3.EXISTING HEALTH CONDITIONS

How it affects fertility Pre-existing health conditions affecting a woman’s fertility could range from an ovulation disorder and fallopian tube blockages to complications in the uterine environment. The most common conditions are polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects one in five women and endometriosis, which affects one in 10.  “In PCOS, the ovaries contain small cysts or follicles which may not produce eggs capable of being fertilised, while endometriosis alters the abdominal environment, making it difficult for a fertilised embryo to be implanted. It may also affect the quality of the egg produced for fertilisation,” explains Dr Yeong. For men, pre-existing health conditions include a low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or both.
What you can do about it Consider getting a preconception health check-up for both you and the hubs prior to trying to conceive. After tests determine that you have gynaecological issues, you’ll be told what necessary treatments can be carried out to correct them. “Problems such as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids may sometimes require laparoscopic surgery to optimise fertility,” Dr Loi says.

Figure out lifestyle factors that could be affecting your fertility, click…