Not many men can say they help couples get pregnant. That’s exactly what Dr Agilan Arjunan does as a fertility specialist focusing on male fertility. He has seen many couples over the years and seeks to help them achieve their aim of having babies.
Trained in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Agilan further pursued his studies in Infertility because of his interest in reproductive medicine. He also trained in laparoscopic gynaecology surgery.
This makes him a fertility specialist and gynaecologist as well as a laparoscopic gynaecology surgeon.
Here, he answers some questions from Thots n Tots:
Since when have you been a doctor?
I have been practising the art of medicine as a doctor since 2004.
Where have you practised apart from Malaysia?
My main place of practice will always be where my heart is, Malaysia. However, I have had the privilege to do several attachments in the United Kingdom and Australia in the course of my training to be a gynaecologist and fertility specialist.
Early in my career, I served in the state of Sabah. Working with the rural population there taught me to use my human instinct to care for people despite limited resources. Now I am able to use this similar instinct to help couples conceive.
Where did you undergo your tertiary education?
My medical degree is from Universiti Malaya and my specialist qualification is from the United Kingdom.
How did you get into this line and what influenced your decision?
I’ve always been fascinated with the science and art involved in caring for women, especially making them pregnant. Fertility treatment combines medical knowledge and surgical skills, which are both fields of my interest. Furthermore, I believe my job to help infertile couples achieve great joy in holding their own baby is in a way “holy”. A fertility specialist is not merely an “IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technique provider”, it’s more than that.
How did your family accept your decision to go into fertility?
They were fine with it. My wife is my biggest strength and pillar and she has supported me all the way, even till today. My kids are still young, so they don’t really understand what I do. They have accepted that sometimes I need to go to work on Sundays (to perform embryo transfer for IVF patients). They know I’m trying to help someone have a baby.
Did you have to face a lot of jokes and questions from friends initially? How did you handle it?
Jokes, yes. They joked that I’m the only husband who goes home and tells his wife that I made another woman pregnant without getting into an argument! I got used to it after some time. They respect me for what I do.
I just take it easy. After all, they are my friends and family. Some friends do ask me for advice about infertility and I always try my best to help them.
What are some perks of being a fertility expert?
The best “perk” is seeing my patient walk out of my clinic happy and pregnant. Nothing beats that! Being a fertility specialist gives me the privilege to see “healthy” patients every day.
What is your policy or belief when it comes to fertility?
I believe that infertility is not a couple’s “fate”. It can be overcome, systematically. I want to give every couple a chance to maximise their fertility health and give their best shot to become parents.
What is your opinion of traditional methods to complement modern medicine when it comes to fertility?
Fertility specialists are trained in Modern Medicine. I believe alternative and complementary (traditional) medicine has its way of helping our body. Current scientific evidence is available to support complementary therapies such as yoga and acupuncture.
What is the most common reason for infertility that you see?
The top two reasons are advanced age of the female partner and male infertility. In recent years, women tend to delay childbirth and when they are older, even IVF treatment has a limited success rate. In the last 5-10 years, male infertility (i.e. poor sperm quality in younger men) has risen.
What is your best advice to couples trying to get pregnant?
Start early. There are many social factors that will influence a couple’s decision to start a family. However, please remember that your fertility declines with age and we have no proven treatment to reverse this.
How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
I have three lovely kids. They are 10, 6 and one.
Has being a parent helped you in your job? How?
Absolutely! I’m in the field of making other couples parents. By being a parent myself, I know what it means to be able to succeed in their journey towards parenthood. Parenthood inspires me to inspire couples to never give up.
If you could invent something child-related, what would it be and why?
Never thought about this. Let me see. Maybe a locket which transmits pulses similar to their own mother’s heart beat rhythm. A newborn calms down once on his/her mother’s chest but as the children grow, they lose this “privilege”. Maybe this locket can have the same calming effect when they are in need.
How do you relax?
It depends on how you define relax. For me, I’m relaxed when I’m at home with my family and kids. I’m relaxed mentally when I’m able to spend time with them, though it can sometimes be physically tiring especially with small children!
Where can we find you when you are not at work?
At home with my family. After all, we work so hard to provide for our family and it makes no sense to me if we fail to spend time with those whom we work hard for.