Worse, on the Internet, it’s all too easy to get misinformation about the falsehoods surrounding fertility. SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew and Mount Elizabeth Hospital ob-gyn Dr Ann Tan set the record straight on these common myths…
MYTH #1 “As long as you’re having sex often, getting pregnant isn’t an issue.”
THE EXPERT SAYS A healthy sex drive does increase your chances of conceiving — after all, your libido determines how often you do the deed — it is just one many aspects to consider. Sexual health problems aside, other health conditions like high blood pressure, being under- or overweight and a thyroid condition can contribute to your inability to conceive.
Even after giving birth, you and your hubby are still at risk of suffering from secondary infertility.
To improve your fertility as a couple, making simple changes to your lifestyle offers payoffs. Dr Chew advises you to:
* Do regular exercise together as a couple.
* Keep to a healthy diet by adding more fruits and vegetables, nuts such as walnuts and almonds and whole milk products like yoghurt and cheese, which help with ovulation.
* Encourage your hubby to wear boxer shorts as tight-fitting clothing and underwear can affect sperm health.
* Skip the sauna, prolonged bicycle riding, hot tubs and hot baths, or placing a laptop on your lap. Increased heat or impact to the nether regions can drastically affect sperm quality.
* Reduce stress by practising meditation or yoga.
MYTH #2 “If you’ve given birth before, you won’t have a problem having another child.”
THE EXPERT SAYS Even after giving birth, you and your hubby are still at risk of suffering from secondary infertility. The term refers to the situation where a woman is unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more children. Secondary infertility accounts for less than a quarter of all infertility cases, in general, says Dr Chong.
Nor is secondary infertility a “woman’s problem”. Dr Chong points out that a couple’s infertility is caused by one-third male sexual health issues, another third by female sexual health issues and the remaining third to undetermined causes. Sticking to a healthy diet and taking the necessary supplements are best ways to prevent issues like diabetes or polycystic ovarian disease, Dr Tan notes.
MYTH #3 “Many women have babies when they’re 40 and over, so you’ve nothing to worry about.”
THE EXPERT SAYS While we’ll be the first to admit that being an older mum rocks, delaying parenthood can increase your risk of a complicated pregnancy. You’ll also likely take longer than your younger pals to get pregnant. You may also find yourself at a higher risk of:
* Gestational diabetes
* High blood pressure
* Premature labour
* Suffering a miscarriage
* Giving birth to a low birthweight baby
* Giving birth to a baby with chromosomal abnormalities or Down syndrome
MYTH #4 “Swallowing semen will make you more fertile.”
THE EXPERT SAYS Dr Chew explains that such a myth still prevails in many parts of the world despite the fact that it has been debunked repeatedly. “Sperm will not survive the gastric juices in your tummy and there is no direct passage for it to flow to the egg.”
MYTH #5 Being on the pill for too long will mess with your fertility.”
THE EXPERT SAYS If you’ve been given a clean bill of health, Dr Chong says your ovulation patterns should return to normal “immediately in the next menstrual cycle” after stopping the pill. Otherwise, Dr Tan advises you to give it three months for your body to return to its previous state.
“You’ll have five days in total — two days before, on the day [of ovulation] itself and two days after ovulation.”
MYTH #6 “A heavier period means you’re more fertile.”
THE EXPERT SAYS Your menstrual flow — whether heavy or light — is a cause for concern and should be checked by your gynae to rule out any health issues. For instance, heavy bleeding is a sign of health issues like fibroids, endometriosis and possible growths like polyps or tumours. On the flipside, if you experience little or no menstrual flow, you could be suffering from polycystic ovarian disease or thyroid problems, which give rise to immature eggs, Dr Chong notes. Engaging in strenuous exercises or yo-yo dieting, which results in a drastic rise and then a fall in body weight, may also contribute to your menstrual issues.
MYTH #7 “Just have sex within 24 hours following ovulation.”
THE EXPERT SAYS The egg lasts 48 hours instead of 24. Generally, the two days before and after ovulation is generally considered a woman’s most fertile period. Dr Chong explains, “That means you’ll have five days in total — two days before, on the day [of ovulation] itself and two days after ovulation.” In fact, too much sexual intercourse in a day may decrease sperm quality and quantity, as well.
MYTH #8 “You’ll only need to give up smoking or drinking when you’re pregnant.”
THE EXPERT SAYS You’ll have the best chance of getting pregnant when you obey healthy lifestyle rules such as sticking to a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Don’t over-indulge in booze and cigarettes as this might jeopardise your conception chances. Dr Chong cautions that these two vices may have a negative impact on your ovulation patterns, affect sperm and egg quality, and even cause erectile problems.
In fact, Dr Chew adds studies have shown excessive drinking can increase the likelihood of menstrual disorders like amenorrhea (no having any period), dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) and it also messes up your menstrual cycles.
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