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Raising awareness on infertility

It may take two to tango on this disease, but only one side of the equation is being blamed.

For many couples, infertility is a not-well-known disease, with a number of myths surrounding it, not to mention it is being primarily attributed to the female.

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This is what Dr. Rudie Frederick B. Mendiola, president of the Philippine Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (PSREI), pointed out. “It is a two-sided issue,” since male infertility comprises 25 percent of all infertility cases, he said, adding couples seeking help to get the women-partners pregnant should “do it as a couple.”

A 2011 Merck-commissioned study by Synovate estimates that one out of 10 Filipinos is infertile, yet a vast majority of them will struggle in silence, mainly because many couples themselves do not understand the issue. Mendiola added that low to moderate understanding of infertility is further compounded by a number of fertility myths, like the belief that a woman who already had a successful pregnancy is no longer susceptible to infertility, which is false.

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This is why PSREI has tied up with Merck Inc. in raising awareness on infertility, already sponsoring a number of free seminars to help patients increase their understanding of the symptoms and causes of infertility, as well as present them with treatment options.

Infertility, though common, is a less-known disease among Filipino couples. According to the World Health organization, infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.

PSREI said contributing 30 percent to the inability of the couple to conceive are such female factors as ovulation problems, blocked fallopian tubes, and poor egg quality because of age. Another 30 percent is due to male factors, which include low sperm count and quality, history of mumps (especially when that has inflamed the testicles), presence of varicocele (enlargement of the veins within the loose bag of skin holding the testicles), testicular cancer, diabetes (which can lead to erectile function), surgery or injury, and too much stress and fatigue.

A lot of barriers hinder the readiness of Asian women for pregnancy, in terms of finding a specialist who can help them, the cost of treatment and employer support. In Asia, 50 percent have no idea where their nearest fertility center is, while 77 percent associate high cost with fertility treatment, and 40 percent believe employers will not allow time off, especially medical leaves, for fertility treatment.

Fortunately, there are a number of methods to assist couples in getting pregnant. Couples can opt for the Assisted Reproductive Technology, which employs modern techniques to assist the natural process of fertilization.

Dr. Anthony Marc B. Ancheta, fellow at PSREI and the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society listed three options: the ovulation induction, the artificial insemination (IUI or intrauterine insemination) and the in-vitro fertilization. Application of method depends on what factors are causing the infertility, said Ancheta. “We start with the least-invasive, cost-effective method.”

But before going through these procedures, or even planning to have a family, Ancheta said couples should ask themselves: “Are we ready to get pregnant?”.

For more information on the Infertility campaign of Merck Inc. and PSREI, visit the campaign website at http://fertilityphilippines.com.ph/.

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TAGS: awareness, health and science, infertility
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