Breaking the falsehoods and fallacies on infertility

In a country where many Filipinos fall for fake news over medical science despite the trappings of modern technology, it was refreshing to listen to real medical experts break down the myths on infertility and offer the right solutions.

With over 20 media representatives listening intently, the online medical forum dubbed “The Art of Getting Pregnant, Breaking the Fallacies and Falsehoods on Infertility” appropriately addressed one by one all the incorrect notions on being infertile both for men and women. False beliefs such as blood type incompatibility, sexual positions, dance rituals and middle-aged pregnancy were discussed extensively by doctors and representatives from Merck.

“Nothing beats strict medical science when it comes to addressing infertility problems. A wholistic, precise examination (work-up) of infertile couples by thoroughly educated infertility doctors and gynecologists, combined with true medicine, is the best treatment for infertility,” says Dr. Eileen Manalo of the Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine & Infertility (CARMI) in St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City.

Today, a couple having a hard time producing an offspring can now choose among a variety of proven, treatment options.

In her talk “Treatment Options for Infertility,” Manalo says advances in modern science resulted to new infertility treatments such as drugs to induce ovulation (ovulation induction), intrauterine insemination (IUI) and advanced reproductive technology (ART) that includes In Vitro Fertilization, more popularly known as IVF.

Diet and lifestyle also play an important role in preventing infertility. She says lessening intake of carbohydrates and fats can go a long way in allowing pregnancy.

Dr. Manalo also stressed the importance of exercise and proper diet and not being overweight. “The body should be in the best shape and health for it to conceive a child.”

Age is also a big factor. A young female has the best chance of impregnation. While a young male can produce the best quality sperm.

For his part, Dr. Virgilio Novero Jr., head of CARMI, gave a run-through on the pregnancy process for people to understand the necessary interventions to treat infertility. He says there are three key events necessary to allow pregnancy: Ovulation, Fertilization, and Implantation.

“Any condition that interferes with these events may result in infertility,” he added.

In his presentation “Infertility and Fertility Preservation,” a snapshot of infertility incidence in the Philippines was pegged at 10%, according to a Synovate survey conducted in 2014. Factors that induce infertility for both women and men are tubal factors, ovulation disorders (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS), endometriosis, uterine factors, and advanced age.

Asked by a reporter on when is the proper time to seek medical help, Novero says after a year of actively trying to get pregnant but without success.

Filipinos normally are shy to seek medical help specially when it comes to sensitive issues like infertility or being baog. They are afraid of being ridiculed. This is more pronounced in men since being infertile is correlated to their masculinity. Some men don’t want his manhood to be questioned. It’s in their nature to listen first to friends and relatives and exhaust all possible means before going to a doctor hence the scarcity of couples seeking professional help.

Novero says seeking professional help the soonest possible time is critical in the treatment process.

Another resource speaker, Henry Wilson, president and managing director of Merck, Inc., introduced his company as a leading provider of medical solutions for infertility. Aside from infertility, Merck, is also into research and development in the following medical fields: cardiovascular, endocrinology, neurology, immunology, oncology among others.

Merck is also spearheading a nationwide awareness program to educate people about the true nature of infertility.

“Merck is committed in this worthwhile endeavor so that people can be aware of the dangers and pitfalls of believing in falsehoods about infertility. We want to lead society in the right direction and provide them the correct information about infertility,” says Dr. Raymond Tapang, Merck’s medical director.

In essence, the main goal of the forum is to educate the public about the definition of infertility in the eyes of the medical sector. It is necessary for doctors to understand the history, lifestyle and contributing factors of infertile people to come up with the best diagnosis and treatment.

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