Infertility: What Women Should Know
Infertility: What Women Should Know
Understand factors that contribute to infertility among women
Understand factors that contribute to infertility among women

The Malaysian Population and Family survey showed that infertility problems among married couples increased from 6.9% in 2004 to 8.6% in 2014. Malaysia has recorded its lowest fertility rate since Malaysia’s independence with the fertility rate clocking in at 1.9 babies per woman, below the replacement level of 2.1.

What are the causes of infertility in women?

Focusing on female factors, here are several causes of subfertility among Malaysian women.

  • Ovulation Disorders
    Problems with ovulation constitute 30% of infertility in women. Issues with the monthly release of an egg can occur as a result of several conditions such as:

    • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – difficulty for ovaries to produce an egg
    • Hypothalamus Malfunction – problems with the portion of the brain to initiate egg maturation
    • Thyroid problems – Both an overactive thyroid gland and underactive thyroid gland can prevent ovulation
    • Premature Ovarian Failure – Happens when a woman’s ovaries stop working before the age of 40
    • Scarred Ovaries – Physical damage to the ovaries may result in failed ovulation
  • Misfunctioning Fallopian Tubes
    An issue with the fallopian tubes affects 25% of infertile couples. Causes may include:

    • Infection – Sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses cause scarring and damage to the fallopian tubes.
    • Abdominal Diseases – Diseases such as appendicitis and colitis cause inflammation of the abdominal cavity, which may lead to scarring and blockage of fallopian tubes.
    • Ectopic Pregnancy – Pregnancy that occurs in the tube itself may cause tubal damage
    • Congenital Defects – Women may be born with tubal abnormalities
  • Endometriosis
    10% of infertile couples attribute failure to endometriosis – a condition that causes excessive growth in the lining of the uterus. Also, know as endometrium outside the uterine cavity, growth can occur outside the uterus, causing damage and blockade to the fallopian tubes.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
    A hormonal disorder where the ovaries fail to release eggs regularly.
  • Hypothalamus Malfunction
    A condition where the quality of eggs is reduced.
  • Hypothyroidism
    Underactive thyroid happens where low levels of thyroid hormone interfere with the release of eggs.
  • Premature Ovarian Failure
    Also known as primary ovarian insufficiency occur when ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40.
  • Scarred Ovaries
    Excessive scarring and inflammation may prevent ovaries from producing healthy eggs.

Several additional factors may also contribute to infertility, such as behavioural factors based on personal habits and lifestyle choices. Among them are:

  • Lack of Proper Diet and Exercise
    Optimal reproductive function requires a proper diet and exercise. According to the Ministry of Health, significantly overweight women may have difficulty becoming pregnant.
  • Smoking
    Smoking increases the risk of miscarriages, premature births and low birth weight babies. Smoking by either partner reduces the chance to conceive.
  • Alcohol
    Excessive alcohol intake greatly increases the risk of congenital disabilities for women.
  • Medication
    Certain types of medication and drugs can affect fertility, such as the use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), chemotherapy and several others.

Seek advice from an IVF doctor to know more about the steps you can take to conceive.

Health Problems You May Have During Pregnancy
Health Problems You May Have During Pregnancy
Pregnancy complications are health problems that occur during the pregnancy
Pregnancy complications are health problems that occur during the pregnancy

Pregnancy complications focus on problems that arise during pregnancy which can impact the mother’s health, the baby’s health of both. Becoming aware of pregnancy symptoms and complications helps you understand that there is a way to manage problems that come up during pregnancy through consultation with a health care professional.

Common maternal health conditions that may occur during pregnancy are:

  • Anemia
    Anemia is having a lower than the average number of healthy red blood cells which leave pregnant women feeling tired and weak.
  • Hypertension
    Poorly controlled and chronic high blood pressure puts both mother and child at risk of pregnancy problems. Associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia, placental abruption and gestational diabetes, women also face poor birth outcomes which may result in infant death.
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum
    Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs when there is severe, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy—more extreme than “morning sickness.” This can lead to weight loss and dehydration and may require intensive treatment.
  • Obesity and Weight Gain
    Obesity can impact women and child health in many ways. Obesity before pregnancy leads to a greater risk of pregnancy complications. Obesity during pregnancy is also associated with increased clinic visits and an extended post-delivery hospital stay.
  • Urinary Tract Infections
    Urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. Symptoms may include:

    • A burning feeling when you pee
    • A frequent or intense urge to pee, even though little comes out when you do
    • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling pee
    • Feeling tired or shaky
    • Fever or chills (a sign that the infection may have reached your kidneys)
    • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
  • Mental Health Conditions
    Depression may happen during or after pregnancy, with symptoms occurring together and last from one to two weeks. Depression makes it difficult for an expecting mother to care for herself and her unborn baby.
    Symptoms may include:

    • A low or sad mood
    • Loss of interest in fun activities
    • Changes in appetite, sleep and energy
    • Problems thinking, concentrating and making decisions
    • Feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt

Please speak to our nutritionist or healthcare professional to learn more about your nutritional needs for a healthier pregnancy.

Foods You Need To Eat During Pregnancy
Foods You Need To Eat During Pregnancy
Time to understand the importance of nutrition before, during and following pregnancy
Time to understand the importance of nutrition before, during and following pregnancy

As you disembark on your journey towards motherhood, eating healthily is crucial to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Your body will go through many physical, hormonal changes and fuel yourself and your growing baby, you are expected to make good food choices from our list here.  The good news is, it is not that hard to follow. Here is our list of recommendations you need to take for a healthy pregnancy.

  • Make good food choices by increasing your nutrient intake
    Since you are feeding a whole new person, you will require more micronutrients and macronutrients to support you and your baby.
    Increase your daily nutritional need by eating a variety of food, such as:

    • Protein
    • Complex carbohydrates
    • Health fat like omega-3
    • Vitamins and minerals

    Good sources of protein include:

    • Lean beef (Change to Lean Meat)
    • Salmon (Change to Fish)
  • Make good food choices by understanding what and how much to eat
    A healthy pregnancy diet is not that different from a regular healthy eating plan – it is merely amplified than the usual.
    Increase calorie intake to 350 calories daily in your second trimester and 450 calories daily in your third trimester as your baby grows. Avoid overly processed junk foods and opt for more nutritional ones such as fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
  • Make good food choices by increasing your intake of protein
    Protein is critical to ensure proper growth of the baby’s tissues and organs. It also ensures the growth of breast and uterine tissue during pregnancy.
    70 to 100g of protein a day is recommended, depending on your weight and trimester you are in. Good sources of protein include:

    • Lean beef
    • Chicken
    • Salmon
    • Nuts and peanut butter
    • Cottage cheese
    • Beans
  • Make the right food choice by increasing your calcium intake
    Calcium build your baby’s bones and regulate your body’s use of fluids. Pregnant women need 1,000 mg of calcium, ideally in at least two servings per day. Good sources of calcium include:

    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Low-mercury fish and seafood
    • Tofu
    • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Make good food choices by increasing folate intake
    Folate or folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Get your 600 to 800 mcg of folate through the consumption of:

    • Liver
    • Nuts
    • Dried beans and lentils
    • Eggs
    • Nuts and peanut butter
    • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Make good food choices by increasing iron intake
    Iron works with sodium, potassium, and water to increase blood flow and ensure that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby. Get your daily recommended 27 mg of iron per day through:

    • Dark green, leafy vegetables
    • Citrus fruits
    • Enriched bread or cereals
    • Lean beef and poultry
    • Eggs
    • Shellfish (clams or mussels)
    • Fish

It is essential to discuss your health issues with a healthcare service provided to ensure that a plan of management can be made. Getting the right treatment is essential to you and your child.

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