The basics of self-care during pregnancy
Many couples conceive almost as soon as they start trying but some are not so fortunate. In fact, one out of five married couples in Singapore has problems trying to conceive.
Common Causes of Infertility
For females, it may be problems with ovulation. Some do not ovulate or have irregular menstrual cycles where ovulation is unpredictable. Another common problem is endometriosis where there is a back flow of menstrual blood into the pelvis. This causes scarring of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, leading to impaired fertility. For men, the most common problem is sperm dysfunction with low sperm count. In cases where there is no sperm production or where the ducts are blocked, pregnancy will be difficult to achieve.
Fertility declines with age. The optimal age for conception is between 22 and 26 years of age. The ability to conceive is reduced after the age of 30. It dips by half after the age of 35 and by another half every subsequent five years. Male fertility declines after the age of 40 as the quantity and quality of sperm deteriorate. Couples over 35 years of age who have had regular unprotected sex for six months without conceiving should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
For women, being overweight or underweight may affect ovulation. Women who are overweight tend to have more complications during pregnancy and birth, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Underweight women, on the other hand, tend to deliver low birth weight babies.
The timing for the sperm and egg to meet is also critical. The best days to procreate are likely to be 12 to 16 days into a woman's menstrual cycle when ovulation is expected to occur.
Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs affect fertility. These toxic substances can cause the menstrual cycle to be irregular and can also affect the quality and quantity of sperm. The risk of miscarriages and having abnormal babies is also increased.
Stress can also lead to infertility. In women, the menstruation cycle can become irregular or absent. In men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction as well as low and malfunctioning sperm. Stress also suppresses sexual desire, thereby reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse.
Food and fertility are linked. A balanced diet with optimal amounts of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals will improve a couple's chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.
Enhance Your Fertility
- Reduce stress. Rest and recreation are important when trying to conceive.
- Cut down on cigarettes and alcohol and avoid illicit drugs.
- Maintain a healthy body weight with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.
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