Does diet affect fertility & other burning questions on fertility & pregnancy, answered

You can also go for a fertility health check-up.

Melanie Lim| Sponsored| November 01, 2021, 05:56 PM

Let’s picture this scenario: you and your partner have gotten hitched, bought a home and are now looking forward to the next step in the quintessential Singaporean dream - having a baby.

While most adults know how a baby is made, some may still have certain questions and assumptions regarding the issues of fertility and pregnancy.

In light of this, we invited Ms Seah Ai Wei, a TCM physician at Thomson Chinese Medicine and Dr Janice Tung, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Thomson Fertility Centre, to debunk common myths and answer questions Singaporeans have about fertility and pregnancy.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to conceive:


1) “Don’t shower the next day after a natural birth.”

Seah: False. As long as mummy feels well, she can have a short and warm shower.

Tung: False. You should maintain good personal hygiene after natural birth to avoid infection.

2) “It is always a female problem that leads to infertility.”

Seah: False. A balance of Yin and Yang is essential for procreation (Yin referring to females and Yang referring to males). Hence, either Yin or Yang factor can lead to infertility.

Tung: False. About half of infertility cases are female related problems, 20 to 30 per cent are male related, while another 20 to 30 per cent are attributed to both males and females. About 10 per cent of such cases may have unknown reasons.

3) “You can’t conceive if you are stressed.”

Seah: True for some, as stress affects different people differently. From the TCM perspective, it suppresses the Liver Energy and may affect circulation to the reproductive organs, hence making it harder to conceive.

Tung: False. There have been associations made between difficulty conceiving and stressful circumstances. However, these associations are not proven. It may also be that difficulty in conceiving has led to particular stress on the couple.

4) “IVF is a sure guarantee for a live birth.”

Tung: False. IVF’s main advantage is that it is an accelerated means of trying to conceive, but it most certainly is not a miracle worker or a sure guarantee for live births. Like regular pregnancies, IVF pregnancies are subject to similar risks of miscarriages, preterm complications and stillbirths.

5) “If you eat pineapples when you are pregnant, you will lose your baby.”

Seah: False. Pineapple is considered a “cooling” fruit and is generally not recommended for mothers in their first trimester. As mothers progress into their second and third trimester, they can consume pineapples in moderation without affecting the pregnancy.


1) Do certain foods cause infertility?

Seah: No, but a neutral-warm diet can aid fertility (e.g. soups, broths, stews, stir-fried and steamed food).

Tung: No food will specifically lead to infertility. However, excessive caffeine consumption for both male and female partners has been associated with difficulty conceiving.

2) How much is the cost of IVF? Is this really the last resort?

Tung: At least S$12,000 to S$15,000. It is the only medical recourse for couples who have long-standing difficulty in conceiving. It should be the first recommended option for certain problems such as low sperm count or tubal blockage.

3) If the wife has health issues or illnesses, does the rate of miscarriage increase?

Seah: It depends on what the health issue is, as well as the patient's age and general constitution. Generally, if one’s constitution is not in a “balanced” state, the harder it is to conceive (or the higher the chance of miscarriage).

Tung: Certain health issues or illnesses, for example certain immunological disorders such as lupus or clotting disorders, are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.

4) Do you really need to take supplements/ go for a check-up before trying for a baby?

Tung: If the couple is below 30, they may take some routine supplements and try for a short time frame of about six months to a year before getting checked. Couples above the age of 35 (especially ladies) should consider an early check-up.

5) Will abortions affect future fertility?

Seah: Not necessarily. Establishing good “circulation” and enhancing the mother’s constitution will provide a conducive environment to conceive again.

Tung: Not necessarily. However, complicated or surgical abortions may cause scarring within the womb, which may affect future fertility.

6) Does having lots of discharge mean you are fertile?

Seah: No, unless it’s egg-white like discharge occurring during the ovulation period.

Tung: No. Vaginal discharge is variable and may be due to many reasons. During your fertile (ovulation) period during the cycle, you may experience slimier discharge, often described as “egg-white”, but not necessarily experienced by all ladies.

7) What can couples in their early 30s do to maintain or improve their fertility?

Seah: Assuming there are no underlying fertility problems, couples should maintain a good lifestyle such as eating well (natural wholesome and quality nutrients and eating regular meals on time), having good quality sleep and exercising regularly.

Tung: They can maintain a healthy weight, exercise and eat a varied healthy diet, as well as reduce their exposure to toxins such as smoke and cut down on caffeine.

They can also get a fertility health screening done to check that the man’s sperm count and movement are normal, and that the woman’s womb and ovaries are healthy, even if they are not ready to start a family yet.

If there are problems detected, they can get them treated early to ensure that fertility is not significantly affected.

8) Do irregular menstrual cycles affect fertility?

Seah: Yes, if the irregular menstrual cycles are due to underlying fertility problems. However, a patient can conceive naturally as long as she is ovulating.

Tung: Yes. They usually mean that a lady is not ovulating regularly, which would make it difficult to try conceiving or that it would take longer to conceive. There may also be underlying hormonal issues that should be addressed.

9) Does my husband’s high-stress level affect his fertility?

Seah: Highly possible. Stress affects one’s Liver Energy, which can disrupt circulation to the Kidney, which can then compromise sperm quality.

Tung: Get your husband to do a semen analysis, and if it is satisfactory, generally he should be able to father children without further medical aid. However, high stress levels may lead to a lack of libido or infrequency of intercourse which would certainly affect a couple trying for pregnancy.

10) How do men know if they are facing fertility issues?

Seah: Unless it is a performance issue, it is hard to determine sperm quality from how you feel.

Tung: If they have difficulty maintaining an erection or suspect they may have problems with ejaculation, they should seek help early.

In some cases where it may be performance anxiety, they would likely find that they are able to masturbate till ejaculation on their own, or have a spontaneous erection in the morning.

If they have been having unprotected intercourse for up to a year while their partner is menstruating regularly but still not able to conceive, they may also be facing issues.

Low sperm count or poor sperm movement usually do not have any symptoms.

11) Is it true that the pain of giving birth is the same as the breaking of all your bones?

Tung: It is well-recognised that the pain associated with labour and delivery can be one of the most painful experiences one can have in life.

Perception of pain is variable for everyone, and even for the individual, it may be different when they are younger versus when they are older.

Fortunately, we have the option of safe and effective epidural anaesthesia, unlike our mothers, even if it may not be the default choice for everyone.

Go for a fertility health check-up

As evidenced by these Q&As, there are several things to take into consideration if you are planning to conceive.

If you are curious to know more about your fertility health, you can sign up for a fertility health check-up here*.

You can also attend the Know Your Fertility Wellness 2021 webinars taking place on November 12 and 19 if you have further questions or concerns regarding fertility and pregnancy.

*Terms and conditions apply.

This sponsored article answered some burning questions our writer had about fertility and pregnancy.

Top image via Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash