Debunking Infertility: A Rising Social Epidemic

I have been skimming through a lot of news headlines on infertility lately. And it is not just in Singapore. From BBC News’s story on ‘Infertility Time Bomb Warning‘ to Reuter’s health story on ‘French Men Not Producing as Much Sperm‘, infertility is well-poised to be the next big epidemic.

In Singapore, more than 15% of couples do not get pregnant naturally within 12 months of trying to conceive. More so, one in two of these women do not know that they are considered infertile.

Are we really an ignorant bunch when it comes to infertility?

A recent study ‘Starting Families Asia‘ was conducted on 1,000 women aged 25 to 40 from 10 Asian countries, including Singapore, and it revealed some interesting findings:

Two in three women in Singapore do not know obesity reduces their chances of getting pregnant. 

Two in three women in Singapore are unaware that the chances of having a baby at 40 years old are reduced, compared to when they’re 30.  Even so, most believe that infertility is God’s will, while 42% attribute it to bad luck.

Two in five women in Singapore do not know that even when a man can have sex and produces sperm, he may be infertile.

About 70% of women in Singapore – who’ve been trying for babies for at least six months – is unable to locate their nearest fertility clinic.

About 30% of women in Singapore is unaware that a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee fertility.

What?! Time to smarten up about infertility! Here is 5 most common myths about infertility debunked.

#1. My period is regular, I’m fertile.
Irregular periods can usually be traced to a specific cause such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and may affect fertility chances. However, regular periods does not also guarantee fertility either. 

Fact is: There are a host of underlying conditions that can hamper your chances of conception from blocked fallopian tubes, fibroid, endometriosis and even STDs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are common STDs that can cause infertility if left untreated. And they don’t affect the coming of your period.

#2. Everybody is having a baby over 40, I’m not late.
Hollywood loves to hype up celebrities going preggers at 40 like the next hottest trend. The message invariably becomes ‘If Susan Sarandan, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Madonna, Jane Seymore, Brooke Shields and Emma Thompson can do it, then 40s is a great time to have kids‘. But with infertility, 40 is not the new 30. 

Fact is: A woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, and then rapidly declines in her late 30s. Ladies, your hormonal clock is not watching E!News. 

#3. Infertility is a woman’s problem. 
I don’t even know where this myth started from. Probably back when women had no voice, and men walked around town with a swagger (not that there is anything wrong with swaggering walk…just ask John Travolta). What I mean is men being men, the topic of infertility creates an enormous dent to their stellar strength and bread-winning manhood. So the problem is socially and naturally deduced to being a woman’s issue. 

Fact is: Infertility factors lie 40% in men, 40% in women and the remaining 20% in a combination of factors and/or unexplained. 

Here’s an advice from my late mother-in-law: ‘Check the man first.’ Reason being infertility is a costly, time-consuming and highly-emotional process. And there is really only one test the man has to take to determine on whom the problem of infertility rests on. So, before throwing tons of money at your doctor, consider her advice.

 #4.  I am still in my 20s and 30s, there is no rush.
Falling pregnant is a process that involves two parties. And while age is still on your side, is it on your partner’s side too? Did you know that infertility can also be caused by the man’s age?

Fact is: Studies have shown that men over 40 have a higher chance of having babies with chromosomal abnormalities. Serious health conditions such as autism and schizophrenia are more prevalent in children fathered by older men. Not to mention, there is also a higher risk for miscarriage in women who fall pregnant with older men.

#5. I already have a baby, I have no problems conceiving again. 
This is such a common myth. Even I thought it so. But there is such a thing as secondary infertility, and sadly it is on the rise.

Fact is: Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after having one or more children. And this problem accounts for more than half of all infertility cases. Reasons are the same for primary infertility, but the chances to conceive are lowered the second (or more) time around with age.

What’s your infertility story? 

Do leave a comment & share with me.

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