IT’S NOT TOO LATE

Your bi­o­log­i­cal clock may be tick­ing fu­ri­ously af­ter age 40, but there are ways to im­prove your #ttc odds, as EVELINE GAN finds out.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Your bi­o­log­i­cal clock may be tick­ing fu­ri­ously age age 40, but there are ways to im­prove your #ttc odds.

Con­ceiv­ing nat­u­rally af­ter the age of 40 can be a strug­gle. The chances of achiev­ing preg­nancy is about 10 to 20 per cent each year for women aged 40 to 44.

If you’re 45 and above, it’s less than

5 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Dr Lim Min Yu, con­sul­tant ob­ste­tri­cian, gy­nae­col­o­gist and fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist at Gle­nea­gles Hos­pi­tal.

But while you may not be able to turn back your bi­o­log­i­cal clock, there are ways to

Have sex ev­ery two to three days, or around ovu­la­tion day

The high­est chance of fer­til­i­sa­tion oc­curs when you have sex­ual in­ter­course on the day be­fore or on the day of ovu­la­tion, Dr Lim says.

You may pre­dict ovu­la­tion by mea­sur­ing your basal body tem­per­a­ture, us­ing urine kits that de­tect a surge of a hor­mone called lutein­is­ing hor­mone or have a fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist do an ul­tra­sound scan to look out for ovar­ian fol­li­cle devel­op­ment, Dr Lim shares.

But why limit baby-mak­ing ac­tiv­ity to just once or twice ev­ery men­strual cy­cle? Reg­u­lar sex works, too. For cou­ples try­ing to

con­ceive, the rec­om­mended fre­quency of in­ter­course is ev­ery two to three times per week, or ev­ery two to three days, Dr Lim says.

Cor­rect any gy­nae­co­log­i­cal is­sues that may pre­vent preg­nancy

A pre­vi­ous his­tory of sex­u­ally-trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions or ap­pen­dici­tis may sab­o­tage your baby-mak­ing odds, the ex­perts share. These con­di­tions can cause in­flam­ma­tion and scar­ring in the fal­lop­ian tubes.

“If a woman’s tubes are dam­aged, the chance of sperm suc­cess­fully meet­ing the egg are re­duced. There is also a higher risk of ec­topic preg­nancy, where the preg­nancy im­plants in the fal­lop­ian tube,” Dr Lim ex­plains.

A com­mon gy­nae­co­log­i­cal con­di­tion, known as en­dometrio­sis, may also po­ten­tially dam­age the tubes and cause in­fer­til­ity, says Dr Christo­pher Ng, a gy­nae­col­o­gist and ob­ste­tri­cian at Gy­naeMD Women’s and Re­ju­ve­na­tion Clinic. This oc­curs when tis­sue that nor­mally grows in­side the uterus grows out­side of it.

For­tu­nately, en­dometrio­sis can be treated us­ing med­i­ca­tions or surgery for more se­vere cases. If there’s block­age in your tubes, key­hole surgery may help to re­store fer­til­ity, Dr Ng says.

But if surgery does not work and the tube re­mains blocked, the cou­ple will be rec­om­mended to un­dergo in-vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion (IVF), Dr Ng adds.

Stick to just one to two cups of

Con­sider swap­ping your cof­fee, tea and cola drinks for a de­caf or juice. Or limit caf­feine in­take to one to two cups of cof­fee or tea per day, Dr Lim ad­vises.

Re­search has linked con­sum­ing too much caf­feine with fer­til­ity is­sues and early preg­nancy loss. Caf­feine re­duces mus­cle ac­tiv­ity in the fal­lop­ian tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb, which low­ers chance of preg­nancy, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in British Jour­nal of Phar­ma­col­ogy in 2011.

An­other new study by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health and Ohio State Univer­sity in Colum­bus sug­gests that your hus­band’s caf­feine habits mat­ter, too. The re­searchers looked at 344 cou­ples try­ing to con­ceive, and found that drink­ing three or more caf­feinated bev­er­ages, such as cof­fee, tea, soda and en­ergy drinks, a day raised the risk of early preg­nancy loss by 74 per cent.

Weight mat­ters

The gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tion for women hop­ing to con­ceive is to have a healthy, bal­anced diet. Be­ing on the ex­treme ends of the weigh­ing scale can wreak havoc on fer­til­ity, so keep your weight in check.

Dr Lim says in­creas­ing in­take of an­tiox­i­dants may help im­prove egg qual­ity al­though there still isn’t much re­search in this area. An­tiox­i­dants can be found in fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles and nuts.

Some stud­ies sug­gest that myo-in­os­i­tol may im­prove egg qual­ity and preg­nancy out­comes in IVF cy­cles, par­tic­u­larly in women with a hor­monal dis­or­der known as poly­cys­tic ovar­ian syn­drome, Dr Ng says.

This vi­ta­min-like sub­stance can be taken in the form of sup­ple­ments, and is also found in a va­ri­ety of food such as un­pro­cessed grains (oats, wheat, bran), fresh citrus fruit (ex­cept lemons), can­taloupe, brewer’s yeast, lima beans, raisons, peanuts and cab­bage, he adds.

Women try­ing to con­ceive should take folic acid, say the ex­perts. It does not im­prove fer­til­ity but if you get preg­nant, it can re­duce your baby’s chance of be­ing born with a neu­ral tube de­fect.

Dad­dies-to-be, get healthy too

The num­ber of eggs a woman has, and their qual­ity, are the most im­por­tant fac­tors to con­ceiv­ing nat­u­rally af­ter 40, Dr Lim says.

But men should do their part too, by main­tain­ing a healthy life­style with a good diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise. This means, not smok­ing or tak­ing il­licit drugs, and lim­it­ing al­co­hol to the oc­ca­sional glass of beer or wine with din­ner, Dr Lim ad­vises.

Avoid wear­ing tight un­der­wear, which can re­duce sperm pro­duc­tion,

Dr Ng ad­vises. To boost sperm health, Dr Ng rec­om­mends dad­dies-to-be to take sup­ple­ments for a min­i­mum of three months.

For ex­am­ple, zinc, glu­tathione, L-car­ni­tine, L-argi­nine may im­prove sperm pro­duc­tion, coen­zyme Q10 and L-car­ni­tine to boost sperm motil­ity (move­ment), se­le­nium and fo­late to boost sperm qual­ity and quan­tity, Dr Ng adds. Re­mem­ber to check with your doc­tor be­fore start­ing any sup­ple­ments.

Men should do their part too, by main­tain­ing a healthy life­style with a good diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise.

Don’t wait too long

Seek med­i­cal ad­vice if you have tried for six months but have not suc­ceeded in con­ceiv­ing. Dr Lim ad­vises see­ing a fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist ear­lier if you have any ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions or have had ab­dom­i­nal surgery.

The doc­tor can per­form ap­pro­pri­ate screen­ing tests and her con­di­tion op­ti­mised be­fore em­bark­ing on the fer­til­ity jour­ney. For ex­am­ple, those with en­dometrio­sis, polyps or fibroids may need to un­dergo surgery be­fore hav­ing fer­til­ity treat­ments.

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