SOME MIR­A­CLES TAKE A LIT­TLE MORE TIME

Dry, smooth, slip­pery or sticky? One mum mon­i­tored her vagi­nal dis­charge this way ev­ery day for al­most two years be­fore con­ceiv­ing her baby. She shares her jour­ney to moth­er­hood with EVELINE GAN.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

One mum mon­i­tored her vagi­nal dis­charge ev­ery day for al­most two years be­fore con­ceiv­ing her baby. Here’s why.

With her bi­o­log­i­cal clock tick­ing and in vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion out of the ques­tion due to her Catholic faith, Amelia Yap (pic­tured over­leaf) went back to na­ture – by track­ing her fer­tile and non-fer­tile pe­ri­ods – in­stead when she couldn’t con­ceive.

The 35-year-old re­searcher was di­ag­nosed with poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome and had ir­reg­u­lar men­strual cy­cles. The hor­monal dis­or­der made it difcult for her to get preg­nant.

She tried acupunc­ture and med­i­ca­tion to stim­u­late ovu­la­tion, but noth­ing worked. Af­ter an ag­o­nis­ing two-year wait with no baby to show for, she found out about pri­vate cen­tre Fer­til­i­ty­care Sin­ga­pore in 2014.

Its nat­u­ral fer­til­ity pro­gramme uses prin­ci­ples from a sci­entic ap­proach known as Nat­u­ral Pro­cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy (NaProTech­nol­ogy) to help pa­tients con­ceive nat­u­rally. It was pi­o­neered by Amer­i­can ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist Thomas Hil­gers.

Cou­ples are taught by a trained prac­ti­tioner to use the Creighton Model Fer­til­i­ty­care Sys­tem, a method that tracks a woman’s re­pro­duc­tive health by analysing her bi­o­log­i­cal signs, such as her cer­vi­cal mu­cus dis­charge and bleed­ing pat­terns.

“In the four years we were try­ing to con­ceive, some of our friends al­ready had three kids. Ev­ery failed at­tempt (to con­ceive) got to me men­tally, and ev­ery Mother’s Day that went by year af­ter year was re­ally painful,” she shares.

Pa­tience is the key

But the tech­nique, while seem­ingly sim­ple, is not for weak-willed or im­pa­tient cou­ples. It might, in fact, re­quire as much time and com­mit­ment as As­sisted Re­pro­duc­tion Tech­nol­ogy pro­ce­dures.

In Amelia’s case, it meant un­der­go­ing more than 50 ul­tra­sound scans and do­ing her daily home­work of mon­i­tor­ing her vagi­nal dis­charge for al­most two years.

“It’s denitely not for the faint­hearted as there’s no easy way to do it,” she says.

At the be­gin­ning, Amelia trav­elled to the hos­pi­tal to do an ul­tra­sound scan once ev­ery two days, start­ing from the half­way mark of ev­ery men­strual cy­cle.

The closely spaced check-ups were nec­es­sary to home in on the nar­row fer­tile win­dow as she was never sure when she would ovu­late. Af­ter ovu­la­tion, an egg usu­ally only sur­vives for 24 hours, a time frame which can eas­ily be missed by cou­ples who are try­ing to con­ceive.

“Thank­fully, my boss was very un­der­stand­ing about my sit­u­a­tion and al­lowed me to start work a lit­tle later on the days I had to visit the hos­pi­tal,” she adds.

Dr John Hui, a fam­ily physi­cian trained in Nat­u­ral Fam­ily Plan­ning who uses NaProTech­nol­ogy prin­ci­ples, says cou­ples un­der­go­ing the pro­gramme are ad­vised to give them­selves at least 12 to 18 months. They also have to be pre­pared to be re­ferred for fur­ther med­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and blood tests, de­pend­ing on their chart­ing re­sults.

“It might take about three to six months be­fore a cou­ple can get to the root of the prob­lem, have it ad­dressed and is ready to achieve preg­nancy,” says Dr Hui.

No sur­prises then as to why some cou­ples drop out of the treat­ment af­ter a few months – for rea­sons such as age and anx­i­ety – when re­sults are not seen.

Treat­ment may cost any­where from “a few hun­dred to sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars”, de­pend­ing on the ex­tent and length of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and treat­ment re­quired by each cou­ple, Dr Hui says. For ex­am­ple, the woman may have cysts or broids that need to be re­moved.

Amelia spent be­tween $10,000 and $15,000 on med­i­cal check-ups, in­clud­ing a sperm anal­y­sis, ul­tra­sound scans and med­i­ca­tion.

“Still, we just kept go­ing. If we gave up at that point, it would have meant giv­ing up our wish to have at least one child of our own,” Amelia says.

Team­work re­quired

Dr Hui says the sys­tem is “cou­ple­cen­tred” and works best when there is good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween hus­band and wife.

You can’t leave it to the woman to shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity, adds Dr Dou­glas Ong, an ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist at Mount El­iz­a­beth Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Amelia says her hus­band, en­gi­neer Sam Wong, 35, was her cheer­leader dur­ing those tough times, for which she is im­mensely grate­ful.

“He was very in­volved in the whole chart­ing process, too. I’d ob­serve the signs and he was the one who would

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