SINGAPORE: Voluntary welfare organisation I Love Children (ILC), which set tongues wagging with advertisements featuring cartoon sperm and eggs at MRT stations to raise awareness of fertility issues, will be ramping up efforts to educate the public about fertility health checks.
Speaking to the media ahead of fertility awareness month in June, ILC said a main concern raised by the public since it rolled out its high-profile campaign in February was what such checks entail. A straw poll it had conducted with 100 respondents aged 18 to 40 found that just 2 per cent were aware of what a fertility health check is, and where it can be done.
An advertisement was placed at City Hall MRT station by non-profit organisation I Love Children in February this year. (Photo: Ray Yeh)
ILC said a fertility health check involves examination of the female pelvic organs and her hormone levels, semen analysis for the males, and comprehensive interviews with both parties. These are recommended for couples who have struggled to conceive, or older women trying to have a baby for the first time. The aim is to identify and rectify any possible issues early.
“To some couples, the idea of going for a fertility health check may be daunting – some may see it as an unnecessary step, and some may even feel that going for such a process is ego-bruising,” said Mrs Joni Ong, president of ILC. “Because of such concerns, this may result in couples delaying the process of seeking help, thus lowering their chances of conceiving.”
She added the group which advocates early parenthood hopes to encourage married couples to” take a more proactive approach to know their fertility health”.
As part of efforts to raise awareness, ILC will once again roll out its educational visuals at high-traffic areas such as MRT stations. The group will also hold a series of road shows on fertility health checks in June.
"I Love Children exists, really, to educate the public. We are really serious and passionate about the fertility rate in Singapore. We really want to keep Singapore young. And that's why we keep doing what we're doing," said Mrs Ong.
CHECKS AVAILABLE AT PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTIONS
Fertility health checks are also available at public health institutions like the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) - which said it has seen an increase in the number of patients seeking such checks.
"In Singapore, about 10 to 15 per cent of couples suffer from an inability to achieve a pregnancy, or subfertility – similar to most other developed countries," said Assoc Prof Tan Heng Hao, Head and Senior Consultant of the Department of Reproductive Medicine KKH in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia. "Anecdotally, KKH has seen an increase in the number of patients seeking subfertility and assisted reproductive treatments.
At Singapore General Hospital (SGH), the first round of checks at costs around S$230 after subsidies. SGH Department of of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Senior Consultant Associate Professor Yong Tze Tein told Channel NewsAsia that some couples might need further testing.
"Couples with infrequent menstruation may require further testing to find out why. If no specific cause is found, the doctor may also want to check the status of the fallopian tube patency and womb with a more invasive test called the hysterosalpingogram, which cost over S$200 for a subsidised patient," said Dr Yong. "The tests are recommended for couples who are trying to conceive and have regular unprotected intercourse for at least a year."