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.
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 difcult 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 scientic 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 denitely 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.
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