At an estimated 0.8, Singapore’s estimated birth rate for year 2014 is going to break records.
It is so interesting, how we are in the business of feminine care in The Land of Low Birth Rates. Yet, for us, it is of great importance that women in Singapore, and beyond our shores, learn to take care of themselves in this aspect of their health. When we do so, we begin to treasure our menstrual cycles more.
As a kid, I was elated whenever I missed my period. It is only when I entered young adulthood that I begin to understand that an irregular cycle (or a lack of it) indicates something is amiss within. If long-term, such irregularities could indicate a type of hormonal imbalance, or ovulation irregularities.
How does infertility happen?
According to WedMD, a lack of ovulation accounts for about 30 – 40% of infertility cases. Typically, a female would ovulate regularly based on her menstrual cycle, and when her egg is not fertilized, it is shed from her uterus together with blood and mucus (Period lesson #1!). A lack of ovulation (aka anovulation) may be a result of hormonal imbalances (e.g. drastic changes in your body fat composition – this affects hormone production and regulation, or PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome) such that the egg had not been developed/released from the ovaries. Another reason for this could be blocked fallopian tubes, even endometriosis. (More anovulation causes can be found here.)
How can I treat infertility?
Treatment for infertility usually comes in the form of drugs – Clomid, Serophene being the most common ones – to stimulate egg production in the ovaries. Some other solutions require injections, like Ovidrel, Novarel, Pregnyl – these medicines are stronger, and they stimulate the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which triggers ovulation.
However, some might feel that drugs are intrusive and are wary of possible side effects that drugs have on the body. This is especially so in a traditional/alternative (‘Chinese’) context, where symptoms and body problems are attributed to imbalances of body functions, instead of the modern medicine (‘Western’) context where symptoms are directly treated with a formulated solution. As a result, people might prefer a more holistic and natural treatment for infertility, despite it lacking scientific backing and despite sometimes slow results. (Slideshow: a list of TCM foods for fertility)
What happens when you mix the scientific knowledge of modern medicine and research, together with the philosophy of traditional medicine? I do not think it is impossible – in fact, here’s a webpage on PMS which I found interesting (ahem, jargons abound!). It shows how hormones fluctuate during PMS and how that can help detect any hormonal irregularities that may affect fertility. NaProTechnology they call it, which focuses on “fertility care medical approach” rather than “fertility control medical approach” to family planning.
Interestingly, I learned of someone in Singapore who is able to help couples conceive naturally by using a mix of Education to an individual’s fertility health and NaProTechnology. Despite the low birth rate in SG, I believe there are still a lot of couples who wish to have kids but are unable to do so. If you need a helpline, feel free to check out Fertility Care Singapore. I personally (am not married) have not used their service so i cant say exactly how effective they are, but if it gives you more options and hope of having a kid, then why not! 🙂
At the end of the day, it is really up to the couple to decide what are their priorities – it could be a priority for their overall health (in that case, try traditional methods), or otherwise. Besides, this article only serves as a reflection of three different ways to help induce female fertility, and should not be seen as medical advice – for the best advice, visit your gynae!