Tech For Good: How Medical Technologies Can Help Couples Tackle Fertility Issues

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 – While there are many factors that lead to delayed parenthood such as lifestyle changes, late marriage, and economic status, particularly due to the lack of financial stability brought on by the pandemic, there are also new and improved technology that can increase couples’ chances of getting pregnant. Those concerned with ageing can opt for various solutions to address fertility issues, one of which is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). 

Dr Ashley Chung, consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist, and fertility medicine specialist at Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) shared that assisted reproductive technology is effective in helping couples to conceive, with IVF being one of the most effective procedures available at this present moment. 

“IVF may be an option if you and your partner has fallopian tubes blockage, previous tubal sterilization or damage, endometriosis, ovulation disorder, impaired sperm function or production, male sterilisation, unexplained fertility, genetic disorder, or as fertility preservation for cancer condition.

“Pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) is a breakthrough technology in the fertility fraternity. PGT-A is a screening technique along with IVF to determine whether an embryo is healthy or not. PGT-A can increase pregnancy rates, decrease the risk of miscarriage, minimise risk for chromosomal anomalies and allow chromosomally normal embryos to be transferred to the womb or frozen for future use,” said Dr Chung. 

Another advanced laboratory technique used for IVF is intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI) where high magnification is used to identify tiny defects in the sperm head that would not be visible with standard procedure and injecting normal looking sperm into the oocytes thus increasing the fertilisation rate. 

As IVF treatment is personalised to each woman, with each responding differently to different medications and different time, Dr Ashley advises patients to go through a thorough clinical examination and blood investigation to find out the causes of infertility before embarking on the procedure. 

“Some women might successfully begin a pregnancy after a cycle of IVF, while others might need to try a few cycles before they begin parenthood. Some of the challenges include dealing with daily IVF treatment injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce mature eggs for fertilisation by the sperm later on. Before you begin your IVF cycle, our nurse will talk you through everything you need to know about these injections,” added Dr Chung. 

Identifying Male Infertility And Its Appropriate Treatments

As parenthood is a journey undertaken by a couple, more awareness needs to be raised on the issue of male infertility, which has seen an increase in cases both locally and globally.  

Dr Farah Leong Rahman, consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist, and fertility medicine specialist at SMCV shared: “Like women, men’s fertility does decline with increasing age, but this is seen subtler compared to women. The decline usually starts when they are in their forties as it affects the quality of the sperm produced.”

She explained that male infertility isn’t always discussed as there is a definite stigma surrounding it, especially in Asian cultures which prize male virility.

“There is no doubt that more awareness has to be raised about this issue and that lifestyle and environmental factors do play a role as smoking cigarettes or marijuana, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and hormonal treatment can lead to suboptimal sperm parameters. 

“There are various causes of male infertility. Some causes are congenital or hereditary; meaning that the problem has occurred since birth. Others are acquired such as surgery, trauma, infection, testicular problems, underlying medical disorders or certain medications. Each treatment option differs depending on the underlying cause,” she added. 

To check if one has suboptimal sperms, a simple sperm test can be carried out to gather information on sperm count, motility and shape. Further investigations such as hormonal blood tests are done if necessary, depending on sperm parameters. 

Dr Leong said that some of the conditions one should seek help with are problems with achieving erections or ejaculation, previous genital surgery, or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. However, it is advised to see a fertility doctor if the patient has been trying to conceive for more than a year without any of the aforementioned symptoms. 

While there are many reasons why a couple may need IVF treatment, IVF may be an option in men with very poor sperm count or sperms that are not swimming.

“For example, in sperms that are not swimming, we can look for the best-looking sperm via microscope and inject it directly into the egg to fertilise it. This method can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy,” added Dr Leong. 

Advancements in medical technology has come a long way from merely treating symptoms to providing solutions to issues such as infertility, as well as concerns that come from delayed parenthood.

Fertility treatments such as IVF can be a consideration for couples to conceive and also ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy and child, which is one of the many treatment options offered at SMCV’s newly launched Sunway Fertility Centre this July. 

Located next to its Women and Children Centre, the facility is equipped with comprehensive facilities such as consultation and counselling rooms, operation theatre, treatment room, semen collection room, andrology lab, embryology lab, cryopreservation room, recovery room, day care room, and the latest technology and systems for various fertility and gynaecological procedures. 

Led by Dr Chung and Dr Leong, the services available at SMCV’s fertility centre include fertility assessment, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT), cryopreservation, endometrial receptivity analysis (ERA), laparoscopic surgeries, and treatment for gynaecological conditions, among others.

For more information or to enquire about Sunway Fertility Centre, contact 019-2892390 (SMCV Fertility Careline). 

Sunway Medical Centre Velocity is located at Lingkaran SV, Sunway Velocity. For enquiries, please contact 03-97729191 or email [email protected]. For more information on Sunway Medical Centre Velocity, click here or visit Sunway Medical Velocity on Facebook.