Thinking of starting a family? Then wise up to these facts about making babies…

You could say that you’ll need to plan a fair bit before having a baby. First up, you need to have that chat with your spouse about the intricacies of caring for bubba before you get busy in the bedroom.

Topics to touch on include finances, the role of your in-laws, and even what faith to raise your child on. Such issues aside, you’ll also need to consider your body’s biological changes. Here’s what you must know about the state of your sexual health…

1. How often and when you have sex affects your conception chances Your babymaking efforts will be more accurate if you’re familiar with your ovulation cycles. Says Mount Elizabeth Hospital urologist Dr Simon Chong, “Being fertile is just one part of the pregnancy equation. Just as important is having frequent successful intercourse, especially during the fertile window of a woman’s menstrual cycle.” Common ovulation signs to look out for include a stretchy and “egg-white” like vaginal discharge and an increased libido. Use ovulation trackers, kits and charts to keep tabs on what’s going on down there.

2. Prolonged intercourse doesn’t mean quality sex Dr Chong notes that some couples believe that good sex equates to having long intercourse. “In general, surveys of couples who have happy sex lives reported a duration that ranges from five to 15 minutes of penetrative sex.”

Your babymaking efforts will be more accurate if you’re familiar with your ovulation cycles.

3. You can “choose” your baby’s gender You’re more likely to have a boy if you have sex on the day your ovulate and a girl if you have intercourse two or three days before ovulation. Other methods include making changes to your diet — you’re more likely to conceive a boy on a high calorie diet. Using an alkaline lubricant can also boost your chances of having a boy! However, Dr Chong cautions that lubricant use can actually harm delicate sperm, which may affect your chances of getting pregnant.

4. Guys, you play a part, too! A couple’s inability to conceive isn’t always (or automatically) the female’s fault. Male infertility issues can be attributed to various causes including genetics, medical treatments and drugs, sperm count and quality, to name a few. Dr Chong points out that it is a common misconception among guys to think that young men do not have sexual problems. “Problems with erection can happen anytime in adulthood, they can be due to a myriad of factors such as stress, tiredness, constant worry and relationship issues.”

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5. Lifestyle choices count a lot! An expanding waistline or frequent smoking and drinking can impact the well-being and fertility of both the man and the woman. Dr Chong shares that each batch of sperm takes about 60 to 80 days to mature, so any steps you take to improve sperm health takes time. Eating healthily and staying active not only does wonders to up your chances of conceiving but also boosts the health of your growing foetus. So, stock up on foods and herbs that boost not just your sex drive but overall fertility as well.

6. Resolve pre-existing conditions, stat! Obvious “culprits” like any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) should be dealt with immediately. In men, conditions like chlamydia can worsen and lead to azoospermia — no sperm count. In women, STIs can lead to pelvic inflammation disease which can lead to irreversibly damage different parts of your reproductive system. High blood pressure is another cause for concern — you are at a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, which can prove fatal to your foetus. If you suffer from excruciating periods, be sure to get yourself checked for conditions like endometriosis or fibroids, which can impede your chances of becoming pregnant.

At best, your success rate for getting pregnant via in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is 50 to 60 per cent — not 100.

7. IVF is no guarantee At best, your success rate for getting pregnant via in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is 50 to 60 per cent — not 100. This rate dips with time — if you are aged 35, you stand a 40 per cent chance of success, over 35 and it falls to 30 per cent, your success rate dwindles to 10 to 15 per cent if you are 40 or older. There is also a limit on the number of cycles of IVF you can go through ― 10 cycles if you are under 40, and just five cycles if you are 40 or over. And only women under 40 are eligible for government assistance.

8. Donor sperm and eggs are available at a price If your spouse has poor quality sperm or a low supply, you can consider getting donor sperm from MOH-approved sperm banks overseas. But bringing it to Singapore comes with a hefty price tag — about US$3,000/$4,230. As for donor eggs, you will need to find your own donor ― and strict rules govern this arrangement. She can be related to the wife but not the husband and no money should change hands. So, getting a stranger to donate — who is certified free from infections and diseases — is best.

9. Sadly, your age matters Dr Chong points out that fertility levels decline with age ― especially more so for the women. Unlike men, all women produce a finite amount of eggs during their lifetime, the number of eggs produced decreases as you advance in age. The egg quality also deteriorates sharply by the age of 40. As for men, their risk of erectile and ejaculation problems also increases with age, while sperm quality and health also take a beating. All things considered, it’s best for you and your hubby to get into babymaking game ASAP! Do note that couples below 35 should try for a year and those over 35, for six months, before seeing a doctor.

Photos: iStock

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