Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Parentology
If you’re reading this, you and your partner may be going through a tough time conceiving. Both of you may have also looked into various fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), to name a few. Luckily, the KKIVF Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) shares more useful information about fertility treatments for couples struggling to conceive.
Getting pregnant with assisted reproductive technology (ART)
Occasionally, medicines that stimulate ovulation, or surgical procedures to treat endometriosis or unblock fallopian tubes can help solve the issue. But in instances that these treatments are not successful, doctors may recommend assisted reproduction technology (ART), alternative fertility treatments that could potentially have a higher success rate.
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital ‘s (KKH) fertility treatment program is on par with treatment programs conducted in most other developed countries. The average pregnancy rate for ICSI or IVF at KKH is more than 35 percent, and 5 to 20 percent for SOIUI, according to Dr. Steven Teo, a Consultant at the KKIVF Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and a member of the SingHealth group.
Pregnancy is quite dependent on a number of factors such as the woman’s age, her pregnancy and childbirth history, or failed attempts at ART, and the woman’s body’s response to fertility treatment. The end result of the program is also affected by the type and seriousness of the couple’s disorders and their abilities to correct them.
Women under 45 who meet the clinical requirements for ART are eligible for treatment in Singapore. At KKH, Singaporeans can pay between $10,000 to $13,000 for a conventional IVF or ICSI cycle, which couples can finance through their Medisave and can also enjoy the Government’s co-funding program for Singaporeans trying to conceive.
Fertility treatment: What to expect
Before going for fertility treatment, you and your partner should be prepared for the changes in your lives brought by opening a new chapter in life, parenthood. As a couple, you should consider putting your relationship with each other first, prepare for the stress that may come going through fertility treatment, and have reasonable expectations when going through this journey.
In the process of expecting a healthy baby, couples should be aware that the rate of failure is high. The mental and physical stress attributed to the process is can be further enhanced due to the hormonal changes for some people as well.
You and your couple should be ready to commit to the whole process of fertility treatment cycles which can range from one to two months. As couples, there are instances where you have to return to the clinic as much as your doctor prescribes. Because timing is crucial in conceiving, a difference of one to two days can affect the results of your treatment.
Fertility treatment options
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): It is a process where the female’s eggs are retrieved and then fertilized in the laboratory with her partner’s sperm. A partially grown embryo is then settled back into the womb for pregnancy to occur. A successful pregnancy done through an IVF can be confirmed after two weeks.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): This alternative fertility treatment where a single sperm is injected into every mature egg that the doctor can retrieve from the woman. This treatment is more commonly choses by couples seeking alternative fertility treatment nowadays, and this approach also benefits couples where the man’s sperm quality is poor. A resulting embryo is then placed in the womb, the same process with IVF.
- Superovulation & Intrauterine Insemination (SOIUI): In this approach, the ovaries are stimulated with drugs with the intention of maturing two to three eggs at a time. Sperm prepared beforehand is then placed directly into the womb when the eggs are ready to shorten the sperm’s travel time to the egg, and a higher chance of ovulation should occur.
Risk and challenges in fertility treatment
- There is a small chance of the ovaries over-responding to artificial stimulants which can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated.
- Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus) have a higher chance of occurring.
- There’s a higher chance of multiple pregnancies and premature delivery.
- If the woman’s body responds poorly to the treatment, it may be discontinued. IVF or ICSI may also have little to no usable eggs for alternative fertility treatment.
Fertility treatment: A couple’s journey
As an example of a couple going through the journey of fertility treatment: Mdm Josephine Lim (not her real name) and her husband had been happily married for seven years before deciding on extending their family by having a child. They tried for natural conceiving but was unsuccessful for a period of 5 years. By the time Josephine was 42 years old, they consulted their gynae and the couple decided to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF).
This meant that through IVF. Josephine and her spouse decided to go through and committed that she would have to receive injections every morning for the next 14 days. Josephine overcame her fear of needles as she really wanted to have a child. Her loving husband, who is very supportive throughout the whole journey, would do most of the household chores, cooking special meals for his significant other, and even conducts her regular injections.
Despite the disappointing result of the first cycle of IVF the couple has had, they push through and get a more favourable result the second time around. And nine months later, Josephine’s IVF success made her a happy mother of a healthy baby girl. She now advices to stay relaxed and try to find ways to unwind from many external factors, though it is tough, with the covid measures tightening during this period of time.
When to seek medical help for fertility issues?
You might wonder how long you and your partner should try naturally conceiving before seeking medical help? For healthy couples, try conceiving naturally for at least one year. However, women over 38, with endometriosis (where the womb lining is outside the womb, causing pain), those who cannot ovulate or have irregular menstrual cycles, and couples with known disorders that affect fertility would need to seek medical help earlier.
In women, the common causes of female infertility are ovulation disorders, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, and endometriosis. While fertility issues in men are usually caused by low sperm count, abnormality in sperm shape, or the complete absence of sperm in the semen. So it’s best to seek medical advice from professionals to know what would work best for you and your partner.