Infertility frustration can affect many couples. Is there a way to overcome it? Dr Benjamin Tee believes there is. Here's his story...
Like parenting, there are many misconceptions when it comes to infertility. In many cultures, women bear the brunt of conceiving and infertility. However, it’s said that men contribute to almost 50% of infertility cases. On top of that, infertility affects close to 10% of the male population. Yikes! But what is male infertility?
Male infertility is caused by sperm deficiencies, which include low sperm count and abnormally-shaped sperm. This can affect a couple’s fertility journey. Did you know that men today carry only half as much sperm as 40 years ago? Also, most sperm don’t reach the female reproductive tract.
“Male infertility is still a taboo topic in Asia due to the impression that a guy is ‘less of a man’ if he seeks help when it comes to sperm health. We know that this isn’t true,” says Dr Benjamin Tee, co-founder of Twoplus Fertility.
How Twoplus Fertility was conceived
Shakespeare once said: The course of fertility never did run smooth. Technically, he didn’t say that, but if one were to ask Benjamin, that inspired Twoplus Fertility’s founding. “My wife and I were excited to start a family together after spending time on our careers. However, the longer the process, the more frustrated we became.” Eventually, fertility doctors diagnosed the couple as having “undiagnosed infertility”.
Benjamin channelled his frustration into understanding fertility and conception. “Our struggle with infertility had been expensive and emotionally draining. IVF worked for us, but I believed a better solution was within reach,” he shares. Benjamin knew there had to be a simple solution beyond IVF and IUI.
Together with co-founder Prusothman Raja, who also understood how difficult it is to start a family, the two set their sights on simple and effective home-based solutions for couples to improve sperm transport to the egg. The two hope that the solution they found could also help other couples who share the same struggles.
Groundbreaking solutions that aid fertility
Enter the Twoplus Sperm Guide. This innovative product, made of medical-grade silicone and shaped like a spoon, should be inserted into the vagina before sex. After doing the deed, women must keep the device in them for at least an hour; they can resume their activities in the meantime. The device captures the semen, thus reducing leakage. As they say, every drop counts!
What if you don’t have time for sex, can’t carry out intercourse normally, or are a same-sex couple? Here’s where the Twoplus Applicator Extra comes into the picture. The device is designed as a less intimidating syringe, and all you have to do is draw semen that’s been collected in a collection cup and self-inseminate. Yes, folks, it’s that easy.
Even with the ease of these abovementioned products, Benjamin recommends couples get their fertility and sperm health tested before planning a family. He encourages couples to “keep track of their fertility health over time”, which can help them “get ahead of discussions with (their) doctor or partner, financial planning, or treatment needs that could otherwise come out of nowhere.”
Let’s combat male infertility
Now men, you’re probably wondering – how can I increase my sperm health? Just as women need to prepare their bodies to conceive, men must follow suit. Benjamin has a few suggestions that you should take note of:
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Also, it’s wise to stay off tobacco altogether. It’s said that those who smoke are more likely to have fertility issues.
- Junk food should be avoided. Instead, consume a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Minerals such as zinc have been proven to improve sperm quality.
- Get in shape! Increase your movement, however small, each day. Small changes can positively affect your fertility. Other health benefits include better concentration, more stamina, and less anxiety.
Benjamin adds: “If men are still too embarrassed to go to the clinic with their wives to test this, they should still be more proactive by testing sperm health at home. Be as goal-oriented as possible and focus on achieving the ultimate objective – to have a healthy baby.”
The ups and downs of fertility
Things don’t always go perfectly in life, and that can include getting pregnant. Did you know that a couple only has up to a 25% chance of conceiving in the first months of trying? Infertility can further compound the time taken for couples to get pregnant. It also gets more challenging because couples often feel alone due to the lack of support. All of this can drive a wedge in their marriage.
“Couples should have honest and frequent conversations about how the fertility journey affects them. They need to work as a team. Educating yourselves with a solid understanding of male and female fertility health will enable you to make earlier and better decisions,” Benjamin advises. “Think of the process as a journey rather than a destination. Make it one that will bring you and your partner closer together.”
When asked if there have been any success stories, Benjamin quickly highlights that many of Twoplus Fertility’s customers managed to get pregnant after using its products. “We have a customer who got pregnant with our Twoplus Applicator after trying to conceive for three years!”
What’s next for Twoplus Fertility?
The fertility tech company has grand ambitions for its future. According to Benjamin, Twoplus Fertility aims to become a one-stop hub for fertility solutions and help a million couples conceive over the next decade. Good news since Singapore’s fertility rate dropped to 1.05 in 2022.
“Holding a newborn child for the first time fueled my motivation to help other couples.” An altruistic goal indeed, fingers crossed for a baby boom in Singapore once again!