In Malaysia, 1 in 6 couples are estimated to have fertility issues.
This is largely connected with the changing demographics for Malaysian couples. Women are getting married later in life, and often pursuing careers to provide financial security before having children. This is leading to an increasing number of couples struggling to conceive when they do want to start a family.
Lack of awareness is a major factor influencing Malaysian couples seeking help, with many only consulting a fertility doctor after they have been trying to conceive for a number of years. At the panel discussion Fertility Screening was raised as a great first step for young women and men to get proactive and understand their fertility health before it is too late.
Atilia Haron also joined the panel sharing her own experience of trying to have a baby and encouraged fertility screening. This has helped both her and her husband understand their fertility health status and therefore chance of success either with or without treatment. Atilia wants to raise awareness on the importance of fertility screening and encourage more open discussion on the topic.
Throughout my adult life, fertility was not something I worried about. The status of one’s fertility was also not something that was openly discussed. Now that my husband and I have been trying for some time, I realised it was time I reached out for help. I am here today to tell Malaysian men and women that it is possible to focus on your career growth and have a baby – if you take the necessary steps, starting with a fertility screening,” said Atilia.
Currently Fertility Screening is not a consideration for many Malaysian adults until they are in their prime or even past their fertile years. Fertility screening is similar to having a health screen. For both men and women there are a range of tests that can help check your fertility to help you plan your future. These tests help predict if a woman may have a faster biological clock and therefore will lose their fertility sooner than expected. The tests available estimate what is called an ‘ovarian reserve’ by measuring the number of egg follicles developing at a particular time. Testing of the ovarian reserve involves doing a blood test for Follicular Stimulating Hormones FSH and estradiol between day 2 and day 4 of the cycle, a pelvic ultrasound and/or performing a blood test for Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) that can be done anytime of the month.
For men a semen analysis looks at the number of sperm, their shape and their ability to move. A single test does not provide all the information required, which is why Fertility Associates Malaysia offers these tests as part of a fertility screening package including a consultation with a fertility specialist.
Age is the most important factor when trying to have a baby. Young women without fertility problems have about a 25% chance per month of having a baby naturally. This falls to about a 12% chance at age 37 and a 4% at 42. Every year counts when you are getting into your late 30’s. Fertility Associates also has an online tool called the Biological Clock to help people work out their chances of conception naturally and also with treatment, this can tell you how long to try for naturally before going to a fertility doctor.
Fertility Associates’ patients Fatemeh Jalilvand and Laavanya Gopal Krishna also shared their own personal stories of their journey towards having a baby and were at the panel with their babies.
“I would encourage women to seek advice and take up the Fertility Screening as soon as they are thinking about having a baby. It is easy and helps increase your chances in the long term. Don’t leave it too late.” – Fatemeh Jalilvand.
“Taking the first step is not that hard – the team at Fertility Associates really helped us along our journey.” – Laavanya Gopal Krishna.
The fertility specialists from New Zealand highlighted that there have been many advances in the field of fertility. “I encourage women to take control of their fertility as soon as they are of adult fertile age. Start early and get yourself screened so that you can understand your fertility and therefore the options whether involving fertility treatment or not to a baby,” said Dr. Mary Birdsall (Chair and Fertility Specialist, Fertility Associates New Zealand.
Fertility Associates Malaysia wants to empower women with the right tools, knowledge, treatment and support to ensure her fertility, while she is working on her career growth. Through this panel discussion, Fertility Associates Malaysia hopes to raise awareness on the subject of fertility amongst Malaysian women and men and inspire them to find out the status of their fertility health in preparation for the near future.
About the Expert Panel:
The panel included international and Malaysian fertility experts with Dr. Arasu Muthusamy (MD, Fertility Associates Malaysia), Dr. John Peek (General Manager Quality, Information and Science, Fertility Associates New Zealand) and Dr. Mary Birdsall (Chair and Fertility Specialist, Fertility Associates New Zealand).