If you have not heard of a fertility health check, you are not alone, as 58 percent of Singaporeans are unaware of such a check. So what’s this check about?
We speak to two couples to find out their experiences of going for a fertility health check at a clinic and using a DIY fertility kit in the comfort of their home.
Martin & Ellen: Married in October 2014, together for nine years and started planning for a baby in 2019
Paulo & Cindy: Dated for two years before tying the knot in December 2017; trying for baby since September 2018
What motivated you to go for a fertility health check?
M&E: We are both in the healthcare industry and understanding our fertility health is a natural thing to do, to know our bodies are in the optimal conditions for conception.
Paulo: We wanted to know if there was anything wrong with either of us, especially for myself as I always had this fear that I may be infertile. Going for a check is better than not knowing and being anxious about it.
Tell us more about your experience going through the fertility health check.
Martin: It was uneventful from making the appointment to the doctor’s review.
During the review, the doctor gave us a detailed overview of our fertility test results, making sure we understood our own individual fertility status.
The semen analysis result provided very detailed information about the viability, morphology, concentration and motility of my sperm sample.
Our results were good so there was no need for further investigation or treatment. The doctor was assuring and shared with us on how to increase our chances of natural conception.
Paulo: At the fertility clinic, I was asked to produce a semen sample. At first, I felt awkward knowing that the staff knew what I was about to do! Thankfully, they were very professional about explaining the procedure, which put me at ease. I was then ushered into a room with a couch and warm lightings. I appreciated it was secluded; away from human traffic.
I scored average for most of the categories and below average for a few. I’m glad the below average rating didn't mean infertility but it made me think more about my fitness level and diet.
I have to mention that before producing the sample, I have to ensure there was no sexual contact/ejaculation 48 hours prior to the appointment, so as to get a decent volume.
Separately, Cindy went for a blood test, Pap smear and an ultrasound scan. The doctor discovered a 10cm cyst on Cindy's right ovary! That was a shocker, as she's had no pain to suggest a growth or tumor. Her other test results weren't definitive as Cindy's cycle was very irregular, so it was difficult to pinpoint anything specific.
How did the experience of using the DIY fertility kit differ?
Martin: The Sperm OK kit provided clear and concise instructions on usage and it was very convenient for me to do it at home. It measured my sperm count – with two bars indicating normal and one bar indicating low sperm count.
I would prefer doing a semen analysis at a clinic as it would offers a more thorough investigation, but this is a good first step for men who may want to know more about their fertility health.
Paulo: The kit gave me the privacy and relief of doing the test at home, without any other person waiting on me.
The instructions were easy to follow as it was diagram-based. But, it was odd stirring my own sample in a cup!
Just like a pregnancy test kit, I waited for about 15 minutes for the two lines to appear. I did get two parallel lines, even though one bar was faint. I was quite relieved as it meant I was fertile.
Both the clinic and DIY experiences were awkward. In the clinic, I had to be ushered to a room, and the staff knew what was happening, versus the DIY experience where I had to stir my own semen in the cup!
Both experiences yielded the same results. Personally, I would still go for a semen analysis in a fertility clinic to provide me with a more comprehensive result of the quality of my sperm as well.
Did the results help you better plan for children?
M&E: Knowing our fertility status definitely gave us a boost in confidence as we now know our chances of conceiving is high.
P&C: Definitely! It's a load off our backs to have proper tests confirming that we're both able to conceive. No more "what ifs" and anxiety of not knowing.
Would you recommend couples to go for a fertility health check or/and getting the DIY fertility kit?
M&E: Yes, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed. It is good to treat and correct any current issues rather than to put them on hold or put them on the back burner. Also, it is easier to deal with any complications when you are younger. Both tests are simple and do not require much time.
Paulo: Yes! Don't overthink it! If couples understand the check is like a simple test, it'd be a lot less stressful.
Any parting words for couples who are trying to conceive?
M&E: Not everything can be seen from the outside. Treat a fertility check as part of a typical health screening and go for the check as a couple to put your mind at ease. It’ll also help you make informed choices about family planning.
Paulo: Look for people to talk about fertility issues, as they are more common than you think!
Cindy: Don't stress! The process ought to be a fun and intimate experience, not pressure-driven!
Click here to sign up* for a Fertility Health Check or sponsored DIY fertility kit!
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