[Dash of SAS] When conceiving is a problem
The bride and groom looked loving at each other as they recited their vows; in the pews, their family and friends excitedly looked on.
“We’ll always honor and obey one another,” said the bride.
“And we’ll make love as much as possible….” said the groom.
“So we can give our parents beautiful grandchildren,” continued the groom.
Somewhere in between the thought about the possibility of not having children crept in and their once lovingly look turned to one of concern.
“I will hold your legs up in the air instead of cuddling after we make love,” said the groom, sadly.
“I’ll start hating my useless body,” replied the bride.
“I’ll wonder if you will leave me,” worried the groom.
One in 10 Filipino couples are suffering from infertility according to a survey commissioned by Merck Serono and conducted by Synovate in 2011. By definition, infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
Though Asia has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, fertility rates are declining globally and in Asia, fertility is decreasing at a faster rate than other regions.
In the same survey conducted by Merck Serono and Synovate among 100 households in AB and upper C segments, the infertility breakdown in cities came out to: Greater Manila Area (GMA) 10.7%, Cebu 3.8%, and Davao 5%.
In the Philippines, particularly, the social pressure to get married and have children puts additional pressure on couples who have problems conceiving.
A friend of mine who had been trying to get pregnant for more than a year once told me, “It’s crazy! Everyone in the Philippines gets pregnant--even those who don’t want to or can’t afford it. But here we are, having difficulty.”
One factor could have been that my friend had just turned 36 at that time.
According to Dr. Anthony Marc Ancheta, an OB-GYN at the Medical City, “Fertility decreases dramatically over the age of 35.”
The chances of getting pregnant for a woman younger than 35 is 41%; that number goes down to less than 12 percent for those who are between 41-42 years old. Age affects the quality of a woman’s eggs, explained Ancheta.
It’s just takes an egg and a sperm, but…
“It’s simple [to get pregnant] – you just need to have an egg and a sperm, but there are other things to consider. Like if the fallopian tubes, which serves as the road of the sperm to the egg, is blocked.”
Other factors include uterine problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and myoma. Female factors account for 35-40% of infertility cases.
Male factors such as “sperm problems” and male tube blockage also account for 35%-40% of infertility cases. Sperm problems include low sperm count, sperm motility (how fast they can swim) and even their shape.
“Those with a long head and long tail are the best looking sperms,” said Ancheta, saying that there are some sperms that have double heads, double tails and or no head at all which affects their ability swim and thus, reach the egg.
Unexplained infertility, where both male and female do not suffer from any of these, but have difficulty conceiving, account for 25%.
“These belong to a special case and we look at other factors such as medical illness, family history of infertility, previous surgeries, sexual dysfunction and lifestyle issues such as stress,” said Ancheta.
There are a number of fertility treatment options available ranging from ovulation induction and timed intercourse, artificial insemination, and in-vitro fertilization.
Depending on what factors are causing the infertility, specialists begin with the least invasive and most cost-effective way of getting couples pregnant. Doctors will also consider the number of years that a couple has been trying to conceive, the types of investigations previously done and treatment options that have been performed.
“But these are just the physical factors, having a baby is a life-changing event that will affect every aspect of your life. We also always ask our patients is, ‘Are you ready emotionally and psychologically to get pregnant?’ That is the bigger question,” Ancheta concluded.
Watch this video from Fertility Awareness Week Asia:
Fertility Awareness Week 2013 (August 25-31) is an awareness campaign endorsed by the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE) and the Philippine Society of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (PSREI) in collaboration with Merck Serono. For more information and answers to common questions about infertility, log onto: www.fertilityphilippines.com.
Make your move
Even with all the noise and negativity online today, there are still stories of hope, love, and courage. We believe not only in telling these stories but enabling more of these stories to exist.
Through MovePH, we aim to engage communities of individuals, student organizations, and NGOs committed to social good.
You can be part of this movement through Rappler PLUS.
By joining Rappler PLUS, you will be able to take part in our MovePH campaigns and initiatives. Furthermore, your support will help us tell more stories and build more communities.
Rappler PLUS is your chance to make a difference.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.