Dubai Stress, late marriage, a genetic condition that produces a hormonal imbalance are the leading causes of infertility in women in the UAE, an expert said.
“Many women also put off conceiving [children] till after their post-graduate studies,” said Dr Awatif Al Bahar, Director of the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre. She said conception becomes more difficult for women over 40.
The doctor who is also a consultant for endocrine infertility said obesity and diabetes, high levels of insulin in the body, are some of the other reasons for infertility.
Some couples come from neighbouring Gulf states and from Yemen for procedures.
There are no figures as to how many women are infertile in the UAE, but it is estimated that one in six couples have problems with infertility.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), women in the UAE are also conceiving fewer number of babies today compared to 20 years ago. It was 5.7 children but it is now down to two children per woman.
The genetic condition that hinders women from bearing children is called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This affliction which leaves cysts in the ovaries affects the woman’s menstrual cycle.
Doctors can detect if a woman has PCOS through blood tests, a pelvic exam or a vaginal ultrasound.
Dr Awatif notes that many men also face fertility issues due to smoking, binge drinking or job stress. “If you work long hours and don’t sleep well, besides chronic headaches, you will have problems with fertility,” she said.
And there are other issues as men having low sperm count, or low sperm motility, which is the inability of sperm to “swim” towards an egg.
Insurance companies do not cover treatment of infertility. Some procedures cost as much as Dh20,000. One of the common techniques used in the centre is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), where the woman’s eggs are harvested and fertilised in the laboratory. The woman is given hormone drugs to prepare her womb and eggs are placed back in the womb.
Samer Radi, head of the IVF Lab at the centre, said it handles between five to 10 cases every day. It takes about five days for the eggs to be “cultured”. In the lab, a technician was delicately conducting a procedure called the Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI, where a single sperm is injected into an egg.
By Mahmood Saberiâ