Want to start a family? There's no time like the present


  • Wellness
  • Monday, 03 Aug 2020

Even if your past IVF treatment was unsuccessful, you and your doctor can learn from it to improve your chances of a successful treatment the next time. — 123rf.com

The current Covid-19 pandemic has definitely changed all aspects of our lives.

The sudden turn of events took many of us by surprise and caused us to adopt a new way of life.

However, no matter how much our lives have changed, there is at least one basic human instinct that will never change: the desire to reproduce and have a child.

The rapid change of events due to the pandemic might have put plans to increase the family on hold for many couples; however, now that things have settled a bit, it might be time to look at those plans again.

Here are some pointers to help aspiring parents restart their fertility journey with confidence.

Just do it

If there is one lesson that we learnt from the current pandemic, it is definitely the reality that everything around us can change in a split second.

What does this mean for couples who are trying to get pregnant?

They need to realise that there is never a perfect time to start your own family.

In many instances, time can be our friend, but if not kept in check, it can be your worse enemy in your fertility journey.

You may feel that next year would be the right time, but are we sure that next year would be any better than now?

You should plan and take a decisive action while both of you are together, and most importantly, healthy.

The key message here is: take action now, not later.

Look back and learn

I always tell my patients that to move forward, you need to always look back and learn.

However painful it might be, you need to look back at your fertility journey and gather valuable information to help you move ahead.

If you have experienced unsuccessful fertility treatments in the past, don’t be discouraged. Now is not the time to cry or be fearful.

Every failure teaches you a lesson; in this case, it highlights important personal medical facts in your fertility journey.

Discuss with your fertility doctor how best to use these facts to your advantage.

It does not matter if you and your partner are just starting your fertility journey or if you have already had unsuccessful IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment, you will always learn something new if only you are willing to analyse your journey.

Determine your fertility stage

Once you have analysed your fertility journey thus far, you need to ascertain which stage of your journey you’re at.

I have broadly categorised couples into three stages.

The first stage comprises those who realise that they need to start their fertility tests.

If you have been trying naturally and correctly to conceive for a year without success, perhaps it’s time to undergo basic fertility tests to help you focus your energy and efforts in the right direction.

You may need lifestyle modifications, help with identifying your fertile window, or fertility treatments like IUI (intra-uterine insemination) or IVF.

The second stage comprises those who have already attempted an IUI treatment.

If you have done a couple of IUIs and are still not pregnant, it’s time to move on to IVF.

Failure to get pregnant with an IUI could be related to a few crucial steps in fertilisation that we are unable to see, i.e. ovulation of a normal egg from the ovary, transportation of the egg through the Fallopian tube, ability of the sperm to fertilise the egg and creation of an embryo.

The third stage comprises couples who have had an unsuccessful IVF attempt.

If you are at this stage, you must muster your courage and meet with your fertility doctor as soon as possible to discuss what new information your IVF treatment revealed and how to use this information for a successful treatment.

This is as IVF is not only a treatment procedure, but also a fertility test that assesses your egg and sperm quality in making an embryo.

Move forward

Based on your current stage, you can either undergo fertility tests and decide on appropriate treatments, or take the next step to do an IVF treatment.

If you are in the third stage (which I hope you are not), you need to discuss and draw up a plan of action for further IVF treatment with your fertility doctor.

This could include changing stimulation protocols, taking appropriate and additional supplements (especially for male infertility), discussing the use of fertility laboratory techniques such as pre-implantation genetic screening, and discussing the need for endometrial lining assessment or usage of add-on therapy prior to embryo transfer.

Have the proper mindset

This is perhaps the most important step of all, although being a fertility doctor, I realise that this is easier said than done.

The emotional toll on couples going through fertility treatment is enormous.

My advice to those on this journey is to take small steps, but to take them now.

Learn to accept your past. Once your mind has learned to accept that you need help in your fertility journey, it will start looking for solutions.

Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to change your destiny. Thinking positively will help you focus your thoughts.

Last, but not least, believe in God and remember that there is always hope.

You may not be able to achieve great things overnight, but start your little steps in a great way.

Good luck to all of you.

Dr Agilan Arjunan is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and fertility specialist. For more information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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