In Malaysia, it is common for couples to wait until they are financially stable before starting a family. This can often be later in life, which can make conceiving a child difficult. Couples who do struggle with fertility often feel like they are alone, as there is little public discussion of the topic. This article discusses some of the most common causes and treatments for infertility.
Is Infertility A Growing Problem In Malaysia?
In Malaysia, infertility is a major health concern affecting 10-15% of the married population. Despite the high prevalence of infertility, there is still a lack of awareness and understanding of the condition among the general public.
Infertility can be a very emotionally and financially draining experience. However, with the right support and treatment, many couples are able to overcome this challenge and go on to have healthy children.
What's Causing Your Infertility? Here are the Possibilities!
Infertility in men
It’s often thought that fertility problems are only a woman’s issue, the truth is that infertility is just as likely to be a man’s problem as it is a woman’s. Some causes include:
Sperm Disorders - Sperm problems can be caused by inherited traits or by lifestyle choices. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using certain medications can all reduce sperm count or unhealthy sperm health. Long-term illness (such as kidney failure), childhood infections (such as mumps), and chromosome or hormone problems are all possible causes of low sperm counts (such as low testosterone).
Varicoceles - Varicoceles are swollen scrotal veins. They inhibit sperm growth by preventing proper blood drainage. Varicoceles may cause blood to flow back into your scrotum from your belly. The testicles are then too hot to produce sperm. This can result in low sperm counts.
Immunologic Infertility - Sometimes a man's body produces antibodies that attack his own sperm. They prevent sperm from moving and working normally. This is not a common cause of male infertility.
Obstruction - Repeated infections, surgery (such as vasectomy), swelling, or developmental defects can all cause sperm tubes to become clogged. Sperm from the testicles cannot leave the body during ejaculation if there is a blockage.
Hormones - Hormones produced by the pituitary gland instruct the testicles to produce sperm. Sperm growth is hampered by low hormone levels. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and it plays a vital role in sperm production and libido. When testosterone levels are low, sperm production can be affected. While low sex = lower chance of conceiving also.
Medication - Certain medications have the potential to alter sperm production, function, and delivery. These medications are commonly prescribed to treat health issues such as arthritis, depression, digestive problems, anxiety or depression, infections, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Infertility in women
In women, the cause of infertility can be due to a variety of factors, including:
Age - As a woman gets older, her chances of getting pregnant decrease. This is because the quality and quantity of her eggs decline with age.
Hormones - Hormonal imbalances can prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs or make it difficult for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
Weight - Being either overweight or underweight can affect hormone levels and interfere with ovulation.
Medical conditions - Certain medical conditions like endometriosis, damage to the fallopian tube, PCOS, and thyroid problems can impact fertility.
There are many different types of infertility treatments, and the best course of action for each couple depends on the specific cause of their infertility.
Some common types of infertility treatments include assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, eggs are retrieved from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the woman’s uterus, where they hopefully implant and grow into a healthy pregnancy.
Other types of fertility treatments include medication to stimulate ovulation, surgery to correct anatomical problems that are preventing pregnancy, and intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is a procedure in which sperm is directly inserted into the woman’s uterus.
Supplement for Infertility
There are many different factors that can contribute to infertility, and often it is a combination of several factors. One factor that is often overlooked is the role of nutrients and supplements in fertility. Here are some suggestions:
Supplement in MEN
CoQ10 is an important nutrient for overall health, but it's also critical for reproductive health. This antioxidant helps to protect sperm from damage and improve their motility.
Zinc is an important mineral for men, and it's often deficient in those with infertility. Zinc plays a role in sperm production, so supplements may improve fertility.
Selenium is a mineral that is essential for good health, but it is also important for fertility. Selenium plays a role in the production of sperm and in the development of the reproductive organs. It is also involved in the metabolism of testosterone, which is important for sperm production.
Testofen® is a natural extract derived from the Fenugreek plant. It helps to improve libido function and increase testosterone levels. AndroGuard is one of the brands with Testofen® which is designed to help men boost their testosterone levels naturally, without the use of steroids or other synthetic hormones.
Supplements for WOMEN
Folic acid is essential not only for women who are trying to conceive but also during the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid can help you become pregnant and is an important nutrient in ensuring that your baby's spine develops normally. It is advised that women who are trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue to take this supplement for the first three months of their pregnancy.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid has been scientifically proven to aid fertility by regulating hormones, promoting ovulation, and increasing cervical mucus, as well as the flow of blood to the reproductive organs (thereby improving the overall quality of the uterus).
CoQ10 not only helps to improve sperm health. It may also help to improve egg quality and increase fertilization rates.
Vitamin D is important for many aspects of health, including fertility. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to a number of problems, including anovulation (the absence of ovulation), which can make it difficult to get pregnant.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body. It plays an important role in fertility. levels of DHEA decline as we age, which may contribute to age-related infertility.
The Link Between Stress and Infertility
When it comes to fertility, stress can be a major roadblock. Studies have shown that stress can have a negative impact on both men's and women’s fertility.
For women, stress can interfere with ovulation and prevent the uterus from being able to properly support a pregnancy. For men, stress can lower sperm count and quality.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing stress, there are some things you can do to help reduce its impact on your fertility. Taking breaks during the day to relax, getting regular exercise, having a good sleep and eating a healthy diet are all good ways to help manage stress levels.
How do You Know When to See a Fertility Specialist?
When you’re trying to conceive, you may wonder when to seek help from a fertility specialist. Here are some signs that it may be time to consult with a fertility doctor.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year without success, it’s probably time to see a fertility specialist. Age is also a factor; women over 35 may want to seek help sooner rather than later.
Other red flags include irregular or long menstrual cycles, a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, and a family history of infertility.
You should also consult a fertility specialist if you or your partner:
Has had three or more miscarriages
Struggles to achieve or maintain an erection
Has a history of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea
The Bottom Line
There are many factors that you cannot control when dealing with infertility, including genetics, age, and an unpredictable cycle, to name a few. And you might not even know if the issue is on you or your partner's side.
However, providing your body with the best nutrition possible — including vitamins or herbs — is one area where you have control.
Certainly, you may consider working with a healthcare professional or specialist to find the right method to increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.