SOME couples struggle to conceive, especially when infertility might be an underlying problem.
And besides undergoing Western fertility treatments, some are turning to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for help.
TCM treatments include herbal remedies and acupuncture, which are meant to bring the body into balance and thus facilitate conception.
But those who turn to TCM should know that TCM isn't a quick fix, said physician Loh Kim Gek, 55.
As with Western medicine, a substantial amount of time and patience may be required before a couple sees a successful result.
With TCM, couples need to undergo at least nine to 12 months of consistent treatment, said Ms Loh, who is one of four physicians at the fertility unit in free clinic Singapore Thong Chai Medical Institution.
Ms Loh, who has more than 20 years of experience, added: "I feel a sense of satisfaction when my patients bring along their babies to meet me. It makes me very happy."
She has helped about 30 per cent of some 900 couples to conceive.
She said that the success rate could have been as high as 50 per cent if some of those couples had stuck to their treatment without giving up halfway.
Although women are traditionally blamed for fertility problems, Ms Loh said that, in seven out of 10 cases, the problem actually lies with the male.
She will give a talk on Saturday to explain how TCM can help to boost fertility, and how one can improve one's constitution. my paper gets her to answer some questions from readers.
Why would TCM be better than Western medicine in fertility treatments?
MS JOEY GWEE, 25
Ms Loh: TCM treatment for gynaecological problems has a long history in China, and has proved to be effective.
To me, TCM and Western medicine serve complementary needs. TCM treats the root problem, while Western medicine tackles the symptoms.
For instance, if you have ovulation problems or problems with the quality of your ovaries, TCM treatment - which comprises Chinese medicine as well as acupuncture - can improve the function of the ovaries. TCM can also help strengthen men's sperm to enable a higher chance of conception.
But if you have problems such as a blockage in your fallopian tube due to ovarian cysts, then I would recommend Western treatment to remove them. My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for two years.
What can we do to improve our chances of conceiving?
MR J. Y. QUEK, 31
Ms Loh: Firstly, you should learn how to be free of worry. When people are anxious, it will affect the quality of a woman's ovaries and the effectiveness of sperm. In my talk, I will share some simple methods for relieving stress.
Secondly, you need to build up your constitution and prevent development of illnesses. Illnesses during the ovulation period can greatly affect conception.