If you have problems getting pregnant, you aren’t alone, since as many as 15 per cent of couples have problems conceiving. This could be due to any number of reasons ranging from lifestyle and physiological, to even psychological ones. So, resolving the root of your infertility will bring you one step closer to achieving your dream of being a parent.
Consult a fertility clinic if you have sexual health issues ― for instance, if you have problems ejaculating or female hormonal imbalances. However, your first visit to one may seem daunting, especially since you won’t know what to expect. So that you can prepare for the visit, senior consultant ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew, consultant ob-gyn Dr Christopher Chong and urologist Dr Poh Beow Kiong share questions they usually ask their patients:
* Do you have any issues with intercourse? If you experience pain while having sex, it could either point to a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) or more complex problems like vaginismus, a painful condition that prevents any form of vaginal penetration.
*Any prior medical issues? Especially if you’re suffering from chronic health issues such as thyroid hormone problems or any autoimmune disease. Dr Chong explains that these can interfere with your ovulation patterns.
* Did you undergo any prior surgeries? Dr Chew explains that procedures carried out to remove ovarian cysts and fibroids may impair your fertility.
* Do you experience regular menstruation? What are your menstrual cycles like? Dr Chew says this question will indicate whether the patient is ovulating regularly or not.
* Did you experience any unusual discharge? Any pain? Painful periods with unusual amounts of discharge may suggest conditions like endometriosis or a pelvic infection. Dr Chew notes that if left untreated, an infection will lead to infertility.
* Do you smoke? Drink alcohol? Lifestyle issues like obesity or drinking and smoking regularly can come impact your fertility. Smoking, for instance, can affect the quality of your eggs, Dr Chong points out.
If you both receive a clean bill of health from the fertility docs, the “culprit” could well be what happens between the sheets.
* What is your age? Age has a huge impact on your fertility levels. Dr Poh points out that the older you are, the poorer the quality of your sperm.
* Are you getting enough sleep? Not having sufficient shuteye may have an adverse effect on the quality of sperm.
* Do you travel often? Dr Poh notes that your body’s hormonal conditions are heavily influenced by your body’s circadian rhythm — the natural physiological processes your body goes through daily. If you need to travel frequently for work, your rhythm may be disrupted by the different time zones, as well as jetlag.
* How often do you have sex? Dr Chew says that if you have sexual intercourse less, this could mean a drop in your sex drive.
* Do you have any issues with intercourse? Dr Chong stresses that these questions are aimed at uncovering common sexual problems like erectile or ejaculation issues.
* Do you smoke? Drink? Do you feel stressed at work? Again, lifestyle concerns ― like stress, as well as diet and exercise habits — can interfere with both the quantity and quality of one’s sperm.
* Do you have any prior health issues? Any discharge? Dr Chong says any trauma to the testes or a bout of mumps could damage your sperm. Dr Chew adds that you should tell your docs if any operations were done on your sexual organs, for instance, to remove a hernia. Discharge from your genitals are a sign of an STD.
If you both receive a clean bill of health from the fertility docs, the “culprit” could well be what happens between the sheets. Then you might need to see a sexologist to address these issues.
Dr Martha Tara Lee, a sexologist with Eros Coaching, suggests that couples have a frank and open discussion before meeting her. You’ll need to discuss what these bedroom issues are, what you hope to resolve in seeking help, and even list possible questions to ask, so as to move things along.
Unlike your medical history, you might cringe at having to reveal your sexual problems to stranger. Although many people shy away from seeking treatment, Dr Lee stresses, “As a practising sexologist of eight years, I have heard it all and very little would shock me.” She adds that most people assume that they are the exception, only to find out that they are suffering from the same issues as others.
Remember: The clearer you are when providing information, the more effective your consultation will be. Dr Lee shares the common questions she poses to her clients:
* How to get pregnant? This question is aimed at understanding your knowledge regarding conception.
* How to overcome her fear of being unattractive or unwanted? Your performance anxieties can affect your sex life, which may, in turn, have an adverse effect on your ability to conceive.
“As a practising sexologist of eight years, I have heard it all and very little would shock me.”
* How to do a “good job” so that your wife can conceive? Dr Lee explains that “good job” refers to the man’s ability to get an erection and to ejaculate. She says a lot of her clients face anxieties about their performance in the bedroom.
* How to overcome your stress of not doing a “good job”? Sex is fun and supposed to be enjoyed by you both. Dr Lee says, “For many of my clients trying to conceive, their anxiety causes something that used to be fun to [become] a task, which takes away spontaneity and romance from lovemaking.”
* How do will you help your wife/the family? Men want to be good fathers and a source of support for their spouse and children. Dr Lee points out that it is important for wives to let their husbands help out. “Some of my clients are told that they are too slow, too dumb, not doing things right. [So,] they get disheartened, withdrawn and stop helping their partners.” This causes a rift in the relationship. She adds that it is necessary for the wife to recognise that she needs to let go of control, ask for help and allow for support.
* How will your lives as well as sex lives change after a baby arrives? It’s common for couples to be unprepared for how their lives will change after baby[LYY1] — especially their sex lives. Dr Lee shares, “After baby, [couples] get so embroiled in their care-[taker] roles as parents, they fail to continue [to see] each other as lovers in addition to [their roles as a] spouse to each other.”
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