Parenting Adventures is about brutally honest discussions in the world of parenting. In this sixth episode, we explore the subject of infertility. How do couples recover from the grief of knowing they may never have children? Why are they not open to the option of adopting or using a donor? We find out from a fertility specialist and, we will also hear from someone who didn’t take her infertility diagnosis as the final result, and did everything she could to become a mother.

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Catching My Baby Dust

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I am extremely pleased and excited to announce the arrival of my book: “Catching My Baby Dust’, which came to a reality after many months of hard work. This book consist of inspiring true stories on the journeys couples had been through in trying to have a baby. Many of these stories detailed the trials and tribulations of their Fertility journeys. These stories are deeply touching and in many ways humbled me as a Fertility Specialist.

Here is the small note I have written for the publication of this book:

Welcome to the first edition of ‘Catching My Baby Dust’.  As the Chief Editor of this book, I would like to thank you for taking your time to read this special book, which is extremely close to my heart.


As a Fertility Specialist, I have the opportunity to work with women who are from various backgrounds, ethinicities &  educational levels. They have one thing in common: They all want to have a baby.


As a mother of three, I can fully understand their desire to have these little bundle of joy in their arms, and how these tiny little babies would complete and fulfill their lives. However, the reason that they are sitting in my clinic is that pregnancies did not happen naturally, and therefore they are here to seek guidance and assistance.


I must say that I feel privileged that I can do something to help them. My greatest pleasue of my daily life is to help these patients to identify the issues which prevent them from conceiving naturally and rectify their problems. Some need just a little bit of reassurance and things happenned.  Unfortunately, some need much more than reassurance. And the good news is that most will eventually have a baby in their arms following fertility treatments.


Throughout these journeys, I have come across many women who had deeply touched me with their perserverance and determination which greatly humbled me. Some of these stories bring tears to my eyes and I hereby express my greatest gratitude to them by agreeing to share their stories with people out there who are trying to conceive.


I would like to thank my senior colleague, Dato Dr Prashant Nadkarni, the Medical Director of KL Fertility Centre for his valuable input. My co-editors, Dr Natasha Ain Mohd Nor & Dr Agilan Arjunan, who shared my passion in the field of fertility and had worked fervently in making this book a reality.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Sylvia Khoo, the director of Pitter Patter Sdn Bhd, Ms Adline A Ghani and Ms Lee Siew Fong helped us to co-ordinate the production of this book.

Last but not the least, I would like to thank all the readers for their constructive comment to further improve the quality of this book.


Dr Helena Lim Yun-Hsuen


Catching My Baby Dust



Ethnicity can affect IVF success rates



The Unknown Factor

Ethnicity can affect IVF success rates

For many couples who struggle with infertility, artificial reproductive techniques (ART) like In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are their only options in the hopes of conception and starting a family of their own. However, if you are considering IVF, it is important for you to learn about IVF success factors that can either boost or hinder your chances at pregnancy.


The main factors that may impact IVF success are age, especially of the mother; a history of previous pregnancies or miscarriage with the same or different partner; the type of fertility problem; lifestyle habits; the use of donor eggs and the fertility clinic chosen. However, several studies have contributed another factor for IVF success – a woman’s ethnicity.


In an observational cohort study conducted by the Nottingham University Research and Treatment Unit in Reproduction (NURTURE), UK, it was found that live birth rates following IVF treatment was significantly lower in Asian and Black women, as compared with white European women.

The study involved 1517 women, of which 1291 were white Europeans and 226 belonged to ethnic minorities. All these women underwent their first cycle of assisted reproductive technology between 2006 and 2011.

Despite sharing favourable chances of conceiving, such as the quality of their egg reserves, only 35% of Asian and Black women successfully conceived and gave birth after IVF, as compared with 44% of white women who were treated at the same clinic during that period.

The researchers at NURTURE are unsure why this is, but suggest that it could be down to genetics, as well as social and environmental factors. According to lead researcher, Dr Walid Maalouf, “Further research into genetic background as a potential determinant of IVF outcome, as well as the influencing effects of lifestyle and cultural factors on reproductive outcomes is needed.”

NURTURE’s findings are supported by a research conducted at the University of Kansas-Wichita, USA. The researchers there state that while the average birth rate after IVF using fresh eggs is 25.7%, this figure conceals the wide variation in the success rates for different ethnic groups.

After studying the records of more than 80,000 IVF treatment cycles carried out between 1999 and 2000, they found that the birth rate for black women was 18.7%, 20.7% for Asian women, 26.3% for white women and 26.7% for Hispanic women. They also learnt that black women had the highest miscarriage rate of 22%, compared to 13.9% for white women, 16.4% for Hispanic and 16.2% for Asian women.


Another US study, by researchers at the University of California, confirmed that Asian women had a lower pregnancy rate than non-Asians. The study looked at 1,200 IVF treatment cycles and found that the birth rate for Japanese, Indian and Chinese patients is about 60 per cent that of white women. However, the team stressed that the differences did not apply to natural conception.

Like the NURTURE team, the US teams are unsure of the reasons for these differences. According to Marion Damewoood, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), “The findings were preliminary but important, and we need to further explore these apparent racial differences to see if we can better understand and hopefully address their causes.”

While Asian couples may find these results worrying, it is crucial for all couples to be counselled on their realistic probabilities for IVF success. Based on these findings, Asian women are encouraged to seek treatment earlier to improve their chances of pregnancy.


MyEndosis Walk: Stand Up, Speak Up, Let’s Unite

Are you suffering from Endometriosis and do not know what to do and where to turn to?

Here is some good news:

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Endometriosis Association (MyEndosis) will be holding an event called ‘MyEndosis Walk: Stand Up, Speak Up, Let’s Unite’ on  28 March 2015 from 7.30am to 11am. The venue is at Concourse area JayaONE,  Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya & PC 203, Faculty of Creative Industries, UTAR, No 3, Jalan 13/6, 46200, Petaling Jaya.

Come and join us to stand up and unite against endometriosis

Endo Walk

Speaker - Dr Helena Lim (2)

Speaker -Dr Natasha Ain Mohd Nor

New Year Surprises

Giggle baby

My New Year was filled with a few good news, which is definitely a good way to start a brand new year.

A patient of mine, Madam P, gave birth to a baby girl vaginally after an induction of labour. Madam P was a patient with severe Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, who had come to see me in a very depressed condition. She had consulted 5 different gynaecologists before, and was told that she will never get pregnant. At that time, she was already married for 7 years. She was obese, stressed and depressed. She hardly have any menses. Most of the time, she needed medication to induce menstruation.

She told me that she was discriminated from her relatives as she was not able to get pregnant. Relatives stopped inviting her to weddings and baby showers as they feel that she was infertile, which may bring bad luck to other couples.

One unique thing which strikes me about Madam P is her husband Mr A, a very loving and supportive husband, who literally stood by her throughout this special journey.

The first thing I told Madam P is that she needs to lose weight and bring down her sugar level. Madam P is a high-flying executive in a bank, and the pressure of work caused her to eat for comfort. This causes a spiraling vicious cycle on her body image and stressed her even more.

It took me a few months to convince her to see a dietitian to change her habit of eating and reluctantly she signed up for gym to lose some weight.

Along the way, she went into depression, requiring clinical psychologist’s support.

Six months along the way, she decided to quit her job and change her lifestyle. She started cooking at home so that she can eat healthily, spend more time with her dogs, exercise and to pursue fertility treatment.

I went on with her and started an IUI cycle which did not work out. She attempted an IVF cycle but the follicles failed to grow. She was devastated.

She stopped seeing me for  4-5 months, and then one day she appeared at my clinic again.

At that time, her father had passed away unexpectedly at the age of 60 due to a heart attack. Suddenly, it threw things into perspective for her: She told me that she is going to go all out to have a baby, for the sake and the remembrance of her dad, who had supported her throughout this journey but have not lived to see this dream of hers coming true. She felt that this was the only thing she can do to keep her dad alive in her heart.

She gritted her teeth and started a weight loss programme with the help of a dietitian and a gym instructor, and managed to lose 15 kgs within 2-3 months. Her period started to become regular again. Upon her return from India for the prayers of her late father, we noticed that things beginning to change for her. She was also seeing an acupuncturist to  prepare her body prior to an IVF.

I scanned her as part of my assessment prior to IVF, and I was delighted to see a growing follicle which was just about to ovulate. I suggested an IUI for that particular cycle.

Lo and behold, she got PREGNANT!!!!

We could not believe our eyes when we saw the urine pregnancy test, which was further confirmed by the blood test result.

P & A was over the moon, and of course the rest was history.

This whole journey took us two years and it ended up with a sweet victory.

The point I wish to bring forward to many of you who are out there and still struggling with trying to have a baby is:  Nothing is impossible. The key thing is to keep moving forward and do the right thing. Like Madam P, she was told that she could never get pregnant but yet she did not give up, even though she have had some setbacks with Fertility Treatment.

The story of P had definitely inspired me, and taught me a good lesson about life. I hope it will be the same for you!

About Dr Helena Lim


Dr Helena Lim Yun Hsuen


Dr Helena Lim qualified as a doctor from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1999. She obtained her specialist degree in the UK in 2006 and completed her master degree in Obstetrics & Gynaecology in the same year. She has been a Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology with special interest in Fertility since then.

Dr Helena studied medicine at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia between 1994-1999. After completing her internship at Hospital Kuala Lumpur, she joinned Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as a trainee lecturer at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, which is one of the prestigious training hospitals in Malaysia. As a trainee and registrar, she was actively involved with acaedemic & reasearch work in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In 2005, She left Malaysia to continue her training at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (RD&E) in Exeter, UK.

She obtained her specialist qualification (MRCOG) in 2006 and completed her master degree in Obstetrics & Gynaecology the same year. Upon returning to Malaysia in 2007, she re-joined Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as a lecturer. She was responsible for teaching of students, resident doctors and post-graduate students, and to this day, maintains an active interest in research and training. During this period of time, she discovered her interest in infertility and has actively pursued further training in this field. In 2011, She was awarded a certificate in Assisted Reproductive Technique from National University of Singapore. She is regularly invited to speak at public forums as well as at medical conferences.

In 2012, Dr Helena left Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and joined KL Fertility & Gynaecology Centre to focus on infertility.

Dr Helena is especially interested in the impact of nutrition, stress and psychology on fertility. Apart from fertility, her other research focuses were on ectopic pregnancy & placental stem cells, in which she had done extensive researches which had been published in international and local medical journals. Dr Helena is actively involved in the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Malaysia and held the post of the Assistant Honorary Secretary from 2007-2009. She is also passionate about educating the general public on issues on pregnancy and parenting, and had published a book entitled ‘Mummy’s Secret- Your comprehensive Guide to pregnancy & parenting’ recently. In 2009, Dr Helena and her colleagues started a website: for pregnant couples and young parents. She continues to be actively involved in contributing educational articles to magazines and websites related to infertility, pregnancy & parenting.

Dr Helena Lim was recently invited to serve as a Clinical Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) where she teaches medical students on a part-time basis, as part of her effort in educating the younger generation of doctors.