Fertility

Articles

By Alexandra Khoo
 
Maybe Baby couple bloggers Tan Yi Lin and Dannie Cho share their parenthood journey, overcoming all odds to become parents – the IVF way.
 

After marriage, did you embark on the parenthood journey right away? If not, what did you decide to do first, and why?

Yi Lin & Dannie:
When we first got married in year 2005, we wanted to enjoy time as husband and wife first, without children. Our courtship was a whirlwind one – we didn't spend years dating before marriage. Having children was always part of the plan, but just not immediately.

 

Two years into our marriage – when I was 28 and Dan, 32 years – we decided that we were ready to try for a baby. However, not long after we started chasing the parenthood dream, we put our baby-making efforts on hold to first realise our plan of backpacking across the Americas in year 2009.

 

When did you decide to try again for a baby?

Yi Lin & Dannie:
We started trying again in year 2010. I was 30 and Dan, 34.

 

How long did you try for a baby before you discovered you had difficulties conceiving and what prompted you to seek treatment?

Yi Lin:
I underwent surgery to remove an ovarian cyst in 2004. It was during the surgery that my gynaecologist noticed that my fallopian tubes appeared to be blocked, which could make it difficult for us to conceive naturally. She advised us to seek fertility treatment in the event that we did not conceive after six months of trying.

 

With this in mind, we immediately sought treatment after six months of trying in 2010.

 

Did you seek other treatments/alternative medicines etc. before you decided to go through IVF?

Yi Lin & Dannie:
No, we did not as our difficulty in natural conception was attributed to blocked fallopian tubes. We only had two options opened to us: laparoscopy to open up the tubes, or IVF.

 

Before deciding on one of the two options, we did a whole bunch of hormone tests, sperm tests and a hysterosalpingogram to rule out other fertility problems.

 

We chose IVF over laparoscopy. I (Yi Lin) just didn't have the patience to schedule and undergo surgery, rest, and then try naturally again.

We would like to share a little on some misconceptions that couples may have about IVF:

 

1) That you're guaranteed to get babies through IVF: The truth is, chances are low, even for healthy couples. It may take repeated attempts before you succeed. IVF will not work if genetic issues are the underlying cause of the inability to conceive or to carry the pregnancy through to birth – i.e. the body keeps miscarrying.

 

2) That IVF is unaffordable: It is affordable if you seek treatment at public hospitals with the aid of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) grant.

 

How was the IVF journey?

Yi Lin & Dannie:

We have been lucky because we started IVF relatively early and I (Yi Lin) responded well to the treatment and only experienced relatively mild side effects.

 

We did not succeed on the first try but I think we bounced back from the setback pretty well. Although, this could also be ‘hindsight’ talking; the heartbreak and devastation of the first failed attempt seems so long ago.

 

I suppose, as a couple goes through IVF together, it is important to remind each other to just stay happy, to celebrate very small milestone in the IVF process, be grateful for each other and all the other blessings that you already have, to continue to live life to the fullest in other ways, and never to lose hope or give up on trying.

 

Not many couples can “bounce back from the setback pretty well”. Please share how you did it and when you knew you were ready to start another cycle?

Yi Lin & Dannie:
I was devastated when our first try at conceiving through IVF did not succeed. While we grieved for the fact that our efforts had come to nought, we never lost sight of the goal. The opposite of success is not failure – it is non-success. Although it was an emotionally trying experience, we thought of it as a project that we worked hard together but did not yield the desired results.

 

A friend texted me, "Sorry for your loss," and I replied, "Thank you, but we did not lose anything. It just did not work."

 

As with everything in life, if you did not succeed on the first try, try again. Accepting reality and adopting a forward-looking attitude helped us put the disappointment of the setback behind us, and spurred us on to take the next step, that is, towards the second IVF cycle.

 

Having gone through IVF twice, what are your thoughts?

Yi Lin & Dannie:
We have no regrets doing IVF at all. Our experience in trying to conceive and our journey to parenthood has made us realise that pregnancy and parenthood are a privilege and blessing. We may not have realised this if we had conceived easily and naturally. We hope that more couples will come to see parenthood as a privilege too – and not just think of it in terms of dollars and cents, or sacrifices that they have to make.

 

Dr Ann Tan, Specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist shares…
 

When should a couple seek treatment to conceive? If they are over 35 years of age, what are the chances of natural conception?
Dr Tan: Couples who want to conceive should consider health screening, in particular, to assess semen parameters and uterine and ovarian health.

 

Those below 35 years can allow up to 12 months to try to conceive naturally, prior to screening. Couples above 35 years should screen earlier and those in their 40s should do an immediate health screen.

 

Does age affect male fertility?

Dr Tan: Male fertility declines with age as male hormones decline. The presence of medical disorders and their treatments may also negatively impact semen quality.

 

Do couples who go for IVF treatment also seek alternative treatments concurrently, e.g. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture and so on?

Dr Tan: Yes many do IVF, take Chinese TCM medications and have acupuncture performed concurrently.

 

Some couples also manage to conceive just through TCM or alternative medicines, how is this possible?
Dr Tan: Many couples do not have truly impossible situations e.g. azoospermia or blocked tubes. As such, sometimes all it takes is some luck and nutritional enhancements. I believe TCM helps to enhance their physical wellbeing and perhaps also gives the couple some reassurance hence they may conceive spontaneously when they are not as stressed.

 

How many times can a woman's body go through the IVF cycles?
Dr Tan: In Singapore a woman is allowed to try IVF through 10 cycles. After 40 years of age, she is only allowed five cycles.

 

 
Maybe Baby thanks couple parenthood bloggers Tan Yi Lin and Dannie Cho for sharing their story and Dr Ann Tan from Women & Fetal Centre for her medical perspective.

Other relevant articles

Have something to ask?

Come talk to us!

+65 6385 9668