“Go for a second honeymoon lah and take a dip in the Dayang Bunting Lake!”
But before you shrug this off as insensitive, there’s a reason why people say this to those who have been trying to get pregnant – and it comes from a good place that is well-meaning.
If you’re a local in Langkawi, chances are you already know why. But for the benefit of those who don’t know, legend has it that if you take a dip in this lake, you will surely conceive soon. Even though there’s no logical or scientific proof for this, the locals still believe this to be true. The lake also has such a high alkaline content that anyone taking a dip in it would surely gain some health benefits from it.
The name Dayang Bunting literally translates to ‘Pregnant Maiden’ and this lake is located on Dayang Bunting Island in Langkawi District, Kedah. You would be able to recognise it from the signature hills surrounding the lake that looks like a pregnant woman lying on her back with her belly protruding out.
The legend tells of a man named Mat Teja who met and fell in love with a mythical princess at that lake. But even as she grieved the loss of her child at birth, she blessed the lake to help all childless women conceive after bathing in its water.
The Causes of Infertility
While some couples wouldn’t even think about having children of their own, many suffer in silence due to their inability to conceive and give birth to a child. Many try for years before they seek medical help. Sometimes the realisation that there might be something wrong with them is far more devastating than the criticism and rejection they receive from society and family.
Of course, there are plenty of factors that could contribute to infertility. Perhaps there is an issue with the man? These include:
- abnormal sperm production or function
- problems with the delivery of sperm
- exposure to certain environmental factors, or
- damages related to cancer and its treatment.
Or perhaps the woman? Women can also have:
- ovulation disorders
- uterine or cervical abnormalities
- fallopian tube damage or blockage
- early menopause
- pelvic scarring, or
- other damages related to cancer and its treatment
It also doesn’t help that the average age of mothers at first birth in Malaysia has increased over the years. This means a shorter reproductive window as couples either marry later or choose to start a family only after they feel more financially ready. There’s also the side effects of tobacco, alcohol, as well as weight and general health issues that can lower your chances to conceive.
The fertility rate has dropped so low that it was announced earlier this year that couples can now withdraw from their EPF to fund fertility treatments such as IVF. In hopes to encourage couples to keep trying, the government is also offering an income tax relief of up to RM6,000 for fertility treatments, where it was previously limited to serious illnesses only.
How to boost my chances naturally?
Engaging in frequent intercourse hoping to strike it lucky is a given, but no harm in visiting the Dayang Bunting Lake every other month too because who knows – going away for a short vacation could help the two of you to relax. Save yourself some money by leaving out all those “so-called standard aphrodisiacs” like oysters and champagne on those visits because quite frankly, they won’t do much for you.
Instead, eating and living healthily over a period of time can help, provided your problem isn’t physical or require medical intervention. It is possible to boost your chances by consuming REAL fertility foods such as whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein. Consider it as building up your body so that it has the best possible chance to conceive. If anything, this also sets a future mum’s body for pregnancy later on.
First of all, try to avoid consuming anything trans fats because they are a threat to your heart and blood vessels as they are to your fertility. Instead, opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are far better for your health. These include healthy vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and oily fish such as salmon and sardines.
Choose carbohydrates that digest slowly which are rich in fibre, like whole grains, vegetables, whole fruits, and beans. You’d be surprised by the difference when you control your insulin and blood sugar levels. Having a diet that is rich in vitamins and iron is important as well. Spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets are all great sources of vitamins and iron. And while it is okay to have coffee, tea and alcohol in moderate amounts, you really should stay away from canned drinks like soda that is just packed with artificial flavours and a tonne of sugar.
Still, eating well is not enough. Sufficient rest and daily exercise are important too, although exercises should be done in moderation. The main goal here is to get your body into its optimum condition to procreate, without overworking yourself.
Being overweight will affect your menstrual cycle. Being underweight can also throw off ovulation periods or even stop you from ovulating altogether.
When to seek medical help?
According to fertility experts, a couple doesn’t need to seek medical help until they’ve tried to conceive for one year or have an obvious problem or a condition that is interfering with conception. However, as age plays a crucial role for the women, those over the age of 35 should have an evaluation if they have not been successful for over 6 months. Those with a history of irregular menstrual cycles, miscarriage, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids or other gynaecological problems should seek medical help even earlier because a healthy and functioning reproductive system is key to getting pregnant.
There’s also a 30% chance that the male is the primary cause of infertility. For the men, it is more often due to a problem with sperm production or sperm delivery. A semen analysis would be able to determine this.
Your fertility specialist can only provide options moving forward after determining the root of the problem. While we understand the truth is scary and difficult to swallow, remember not to lose hope. You will be increasing your chances of conceiving if you evaluate your fertility sooner than later.