Being a parent is hard work, but for some, the hardest part is conceiving a child in the first place. The birth rate in the UAE has been declining, and as more people seek help to conceive, some doctors say there are rising infertility issues as well as significant changes in the country’s social makeup.
One in five couples in the UAE face fertility issues, according to a recent study conducted by Aster DM Healthcare, which also projects that the number of women in Dubai seeking treatment annually will almost double, from an estimated 5,975 in 2015 to 9,139 by 2030, based on predicted population growth rates. It is important to distinguish between fertility rate and infertility. The former is the number of children born per woman, and while it may drop it does not mean more women are infertile. Infertility is defined as a failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of trying. According to data from the World Bank and the UN, the fertility rate in the UAE dropped from 6.9 in I960 to 1.8 in 2014. During the same time it dropped from 7-09 to 2.06 in Bahrain, and 7-2 to 2.8 in Saudi Arabia. The UAE figures do not account for demographical changes in that period when huge numbers of expats moved to the country but may have decided not to have children here. It also does not necessarily indicate more people are infertile. But along with a declining birth rate, some doctors say they are witnessing an increase in infertility issues. According to Dr Gautam Allahbadia, head of theAster IVF & Women Clinic in Dubai, and IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) consultant, infertility is being diagnosed more often nowadays due to the increased incidence of endometriosis (a disorder of the female reproductive system), multiple miscarriage concerns, ovulatory disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome. “Age, obesity, life pressures and hormones all play a part in infertility, although polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity are the bugbears of fertility in the UAE.” The problem also affects men, he says, with a low sperm count being “one of the most common issues” which causes infertility. A low sperm count can result from a hormone imbalance or genetic issue, or certain types of medications. Smoking, excessive drinking and drug use also causes a drop in healthy sperm. Some doctors say there are other factors causing people to seek fertility treatment even though they are not infertile.
Infertility is rising in the UAE as much as it is globally, and that there are other factors influencing the declining birth rate, including rising levels of female education, stressful lives, and the need for parents to provide a good quality of life for their children and are therefore opting to have fewer.
Despite anecdotal evidence and declining birth rate, the World Health Organisation says there has not been an increase in infertility. In a 2014 study that examined infertility prevalence since 1990, the authors said aside from the population growth and a worldwide decline in fertility rate – the preferred number of children – “we found little evidence of changes in infertility over two decades”.
5 Lifestyle changes that can help boost your fertility:-
BALANCED DIET: Maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy weight can make a difference. It takes longer for obese as well as underweight women to conceive.
CAFFEINE CONTROL: Moderate consumption of caffeine does not create any difficulty in getting pregnant. However, women consuming seven or more cups of tea or coffee a day are more likely to experience fertility problems. SMOKING: Women who smoke are significantly more likely to have problems conceiving. It is recommended that women trying to conceive should try to stop smoking. The number of couples entering parenthood is falling, but statistics show there is more to it than fertility issues. raises the risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
One Dubai woman, who married at 31, opting to focus on her studies and career, knows the challenges involved with becoming pregnant in her late-30s. The 38-year-old expat, who asked for her name to be withheld due to the sensitive nature of the pregnancy, says she and her husband knew the path to conception may not be easy. “When we tried to conceive naturally, it occurred to us that I had developed polycystic ovaries, which was a hindrance along with my age ,” she adds. “My gynaecologist referred us to a fertility specialist.” The couple admits they were “pretty unsure” about the IVF process, but the doctors and staff were supportive from day one. “When I couldn’t conceive, I was questioned [by my friends and family] about why I hadn’t planned my pregnancy. I was ridiculed for choosing career over motherhood.” Fortunately, the treatment worked and the couple will welcome a baby later this year.
STRESS, ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: It’s not unusual to feel under pressure or anxious about becoming pregnant. The key is to manage the emotions before they take control and begin to make you feel overwhelmed. Stress can affect ovulation and libido, it can rob the body of nutrients, weaken the immune system, cause stomach problems and lead to depression. There’s not much actual evidence that stress directly causes infertility, except in rare cases.
EXERCISE: Being active helps reduce body fat and increase libido, which can make a big difference to a couple’s chances of conception. Thirty minutes a day of gentle exercise, four to five times a week can reduce fat levels and boost fertility, heart health and energy levels.
Source :- National Newspaper