Take a health check before embarking on your family planning journey

Singapore’s fertility rate has plummeted to a historic low of 1.1 in 2020 – a trend reflected in many developed societiesbecause couples marry and form families later in life.

According to Dr. Andrew Kan, a fertility specialist at Virtus Fertility Centre, there are several main causes of infertility in Singapore which are also commonly found in other developed countries like Australia and the UK. These include infertility due to ovulation factor, tubal infertility, uterine infertility and male infertility.

“Five to 10% of infertility cases have unexplained causes,” he added. “But being unable to identify a cause of infertility doesn’t necessarily mean the couple doesn’t have a problem.”

While some may assume that artificial reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) can help couples – including older ones – have a baby, many may not realize that IVF and other tools are not always successful.

For couples planning to have children, it is best to start thinking about family planning early and undergo a fertility checkup early on in their journey so that any fertility issues fertility can be discovered and resolved. While a successful conception, pregnancy and delivery take around nine months, the journey to having a baby starts much earlier than that.

PERSONALIZED CONSULTATION ACCORDING TO YOUR NEEDS

Virtus Fertility Center is part of Virtus Health, Australia’s largest ART healthcare provider and has been helping Singapore couples with fertility treatment for over six years since opening here.

Dr Liow Swee Lian, scientific director of the Virtus Fertility Centre, said its extensive network of international and local fertility experts will ensure couples have an individualized approach to their treatment.

Dr. Liow Swee Lian examines the blastocysts, a structure with an internal cell mass which then forms the embryo. Photo: Virtus Fertility Center

“There will also be continuity of care if the couple moves to another country where Virtus Health IVF clinics are available, either due to placement or for further treatment not available in their home country” , he added.

At the Virtus Fertility Centre, couples are supported through every step of the IVF treatment journey and process, from medication and monitoring, to egg collection and embryo transfer.

This patient-centered approach aims to clarify misconceptions and alleviate anxiety, Dr. Liow said. “Couples who have decided to undergo IVF treatment are often worried about their fertility issues. A majority would have sought information about fertility issues on social media and the internet, which can confuse and exacerbate their anxiety .

To better support couples, Virtus Fertility Center offers a private counseling service delivered by a team of fertility coaches for all IVF patients before hormonal stimulation and just before embryo transfer. This pre-IVF counseling covers information on funding and consent, discussion with a clinical embryologist as well as emotional support.

There is also a specialist counseling option for those undergoing donor programs and genetic testing.

“Entering an IVF cycle in the right mental and emotional state is important and ultimately affects a couple’s chances of success at the end of treatment,” said Dr. Kan, who pointed out that many couples decide after one or two unsuccessful IVF cycles. to stop trying due to mental and emotional strain.

Citing studies of large-scale IVF statistics in the US, UK and Australia, Dr Kan said: “Even up to six cycles there is still a respectable pregnancy rate. So here at the Virtus Fertility Center we place extraordinary importance on the mental and emotional health of the couple, with our dedicated fertility counselors.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY AT THE SERVICE OF DESIGN

In addition to taking a holistic approach to fertility, Virtus Fertility Center also deploys innovative technology to ensure the best chance of success.

This includes artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted embryo selection to optimize the chances of successful conception, as well as the use of electronic ID tagging to digitally track every egg, sperm and embryo within the lab. from the Virtus Fertility Center. By labeling each container and receptacle with a radio frequency identification tag, Virtus Fertility Center ensures that the risk of human error is minimized and samples are correctly linked to each patient.

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Using radio frequency identification, all sample moving activity is detected and monitored in the IVF lab. Photo: Virtus Fertility Center

Dr. Liow explained that embryo selection is usually done by an embryologist who assesses the morphological integrity of cells in an embryo at a specific time. The process can be subjective, with different embryologists delivering different qualities to the same embryo. Using technology such as an accelerated incubator allows for more accurate classification of embryos, as video recordings of embryos throughout development can be reviewed and scored.

“The process of examining and scoring embryos adds to the already heavy workload of the IVF lab,” he explained. “The incorporation of AI into the Accelerated Incubator has accelerated and improved the embryo selection process and pregnancy outcome.”

With all the advances in technology, starting the family planning journey early remains the most important step a couple can take.

Dr Kan said: ‘It is important for couples who want a child to have a fertility check-up as soon as possible – before they even start trying, as this allows for both early diagnosis and treatment. if necessary. Early detection means many options are available and treatment is much easier. A good example is anti-Mullerian hormone blood tests, which check a woman’s ovarian reserve or the number of eggs she has. If known early, couples can consider treatment options like starting a family sooner than expected, undergoing fertility treatments such as IVF or embryo freezing if they are not ready to start a family on -field.

Gear up for your family planning journey with Virtus Fertility Center.

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