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Simple Lifestyle Changes To Boost Fertility

Dr Sreelatha CG, Specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Aster IVF & Women Clinic, shares her expert advice on natural methods to improve your chances of getting pregnant.

With both male and female Infertility rates on the ascent, the way of living has been under the scanner in the last couple of decades. It has been set up that specific way of life elements can interfere with a couple’s capacity to conceive. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can boost your fertility and help you conceive.

Eat a healthy, clean diet.

A healthy diet plays a major factor in helping you boost fertility levels and prepare for pregnancy. Optimum fertility begins with the nutrients that you put into your body and there are specific fertility ‘superfoods’ that can have a positive impact on the health of eggs and sperm.

Perhaps one of the best-known vitamins necessary for pregnancy is folic acid. This common B9 vitamin is naturally found in lentils; dried beans and peas; dark green vegetables such as broccoli or spinach.

Mothers-to-be aren’t the only ones who should be eating leafy greens, males also need to think about what is going into their bodies too. Men can improve the quality of their sperm and fertility by increasing their intake of folic acid.

Exercise Daily

Aside from the common risk factors associated with being overweight such as heart disease or diabetes, carrying excess weight plays a major influence on fertility levels.

Women who are overweight can experience hormonal imbalances, and an overproduction of certain hormones can disrupt the menstrual cycle and ovulation. For men, being overweight can lead to decreased sperm production.

Thirty minutes of gentle exercise 4-5 times a week can make a big difference to a couple’s chances of conceiving. Try going for long walks with your partner or a quick cycle around the local park. If you are an active gym-goer, just watch your intensity levels, working out excessively can have a detrimental effect on fertility.

Quit Smoking

Stopping Cigarette/Shisha can be a test, yet now that you are attempting to Conceive, it is an incredible time to inspire yourself and say no to smoking. Smoking is a major no-no during pregnancy at any rate. In any case, what most couples disregard is the impact of smoking on fertility. Female smokers are three to four times more likely to have issues getting pregnant.

Nicotine has always been a bad effect on fertility. Even if conception occurs, foetal abnormalities and obstetric complications have been always noted.

If you are trying to conceive and want to quit smoking, there are many ways to help you quit smoking. From gums to botanical supplements, these aids have made butting out easier than ever.

Say no to Alcohol

As most of you are aware, alcohol consumption is not suggested during pregnancy. But even when you are trying to conceive it is vital to constrain your alcohol utilization. As alcohol can have very bad effects on your fertility. Women who drink five or more than five drinks a week are actually proven to conceive less. Women who drink regularly are also increased the risk of experiencing irregular periods, irregularity in ovulation, early menopause and even miscarriage. For males, it can lead to reduced testosterone levels and problems with sperm motility.


News Courtesy – Khaleej Times

Aster study reveals that infertility cases in Dubai could nearly double by 2030

One in five couples in the UAE face fertility issues – a higher figure than in other parts of the world

– Former Miss World Diana Hayden inaugurates the Aster IVF & Women Clinic

– Aster IVF & Women Clinic offers specialised IVF treatment: IVF Lite

– Global IVF market estimated to grow up to US$21.6 billion by 2020 


DUBAI, UAE; 29 May 2016: During the inauguration of the Aster IVF & Women Clinic – a speciality clinic launched by Aster DM Healthcare – a study was unveiled revealing that fertility treatments in the UAE need to become easily accessible and affordable to tackle the growing infertility numbers among couples.

The study also mentioned that one in five couples in the UAE face fertility issues – a higher figure than in other parts of the world. Statistics also show that in Dubai alone the incidence of infertile women seeking treatment per year could nearly double from 5,975 cases in 2015 to 9,139 cases by 2030*.

The study findings were launched by former Miss World, actress, philanthropist and author, Diana Hayden, a strong and vocal advocate for the removal of stigmas associated with infertility. Ms. Hayden was in Dubai to launch the Aster IVF & Women Clinic.

Speaking at the opening of the clinic, Alisha Moopen, Executive Director and Group CEO of Aster DM Healthcare, stated that the Aster IVF & Women Clinic was an extension of its speciality care to the families in the communities it operates in.

She said: “As we move into a world of open-source information and rapid socio-economic transformation, perceptions around women and family health are changing. Previous stigmas and misconceptions around infertility are being challenged and replaced by discussions and advice around what the latest fertility treatments are.

“At the Aster IVF & Women Clinic, we believe in creating long-lasting and supportive relationships between our patients and practitioners, offering them the best treatments in the region. The clinic is set to be a space in which couples and families experience empathetic medical care, an approach that makes our patients feel supported.”

Studies reflect that infertility is becoming increasingly common in the region.  As per the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) latest findings, around 50 per cent of women in the UAE face issues pertaining to infertility.  This is in large part caused by a shifting demographic trend coupled with late marriages, and consequently, late attempts to start a family.

Diana Hayden said: “An increasing number of couples only look to enter parenthood when they feel they are a hundred per cent ready for it. Late marriages have also led to an increase in age at which people opt to have their first child. However due to the decreasing level of hormones with age in both men and women, the reality is that we are witnessing lower rates of fertility.

“Yet in today’s world of medical advances, one is able to ensure that it is possible for women to conceive and couples to experience parenthood at their convenience. This is provided they have the best treatments and procedures of IVF available to them, such as the Aster IVF & Women Clinic, Including specialised doctors who are committed to advancing the cause of fertility.”

Another factor associated with rising infertility is obesity, as a high Body Mass Index (BMI) is associated with infertility. The high level of diabetes in the region is another significant factor. According to government health statistics around 25 per cent of adults in the UAE have diabetes and a similar percentage of population is pre-diabetic. Smoking in both men and women has also been suggested as a cause of infertility. Natural conception is twice as difficult for smoking women, as it causes lower sperm counts in men and also reduces the success rates of fertility treatments.

With global, regional and local infertility rates rising, so is the demand for IVF. A United Nations study says that the global IVF market is estimated to grow up to US$21.6 billion by 2020.

Conveniently located in Al Mankhool, Bur Dubai, the Aster IVF & Women Clinic, strives to ensure that all families and couples struggling to give birth have a trusted practitioner and medical space to turn too.  The clinic is also a speciality extension of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at the Aster Hospital in Mankhool, one of most comprehensive healthcare facilities for women in the country.

Led by internationally recognised specialists with several years of experience in the field of fertility treatments, Aster IVF & Women Clinic promises to provide a holistic approach with a broad spectrum of care that women need during their different phases of life. One of the highlights of the clinic is the IVF Lite treatment, another IVF method used to help couples get pregnant with minimal risks, higher success rate and lower in cost.

Alisha Moopen further explained: “At our hospitals and clinics we have witnessed countless couples nervously seek counsel on how to act on issues of infertility. We hope to turn that uncertainty into a promise to our patients that they no longer have to be stressed, confused or scared as we have the facilities and expertise to treat them well.”

Hence the services offered at the clinic are diverse and adaptable to each individual patient. This includes state-of-the-art Ovulation Induction, recurrent miscarriage screening and therapies, IUI, IVF, ICSI and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Screening using Next Generation Sequencing for 100% 24-chromosome diagnosis including elective PGD-IVF Sex Selection for family-balancing.

In addition to offering expertise in IVF, the Women’s health speciality, also part of the Aster IVF & Women Clinic, was designed to make the clinic a one stop exclusive facility focusing on women’s health. The Women clinic provides holistic medical and paramedical services for women to assist them in every medical need.

Aster IVF & Women Clinic also offers gynaecological services, investigation and treatment related to menstrual disorders, treatment for Urinary Dysfunction, Physiotherapy, Wellness, Yoga and Cosmetology. The team consists of highly trained doctors, physiotherapists, nurses and technicians who collectively work towards the aim of improving the overall health of women.

Aster Hospitals & Clinics also conducted a CME on the latest advances in Assisted Reproductive Technology two days prior to the opening of the IVF clinic, in which highly experienced IVF care professionals from all around the world dispensed great knowledge on various topics in the fields of IVF to the UAE gynaecology fraternity. Aster Hospitals & Clinics will also be conducting periodic education programs for gynaecologists & obstetricians to raise the education amongst specialist and empower them to conduct work related in this field.

Do Milder IVF stimulation techniques mark the end of conventional IVF procedures?

Introduction and improvement in IVF techniques have increased the chances of women with infertility issues to conceive. Milder Stimulation protocols in IVF are now gaining increasing popularity, given the belief that they are safer and have more chances of success than conventional IVF methods in selected patient groups.

Aster IVF & Women Clinic is the only fertility clinic in UAE to efficiently perform both conventional and minimal stimulation IVF techniques. Mild stimulation IVF or Aster’s IVF Lite, is a new and improved technique that can be used to help women get pregnant with minimal risks. Conventional IVF and IVF Lite are forms of ART (Assisted reproductive technology).

IVF is a procedure in which the egg and sperm are fertilized outside the body in a laboratory dish and the embryo is later transferred into the uterus. With IVF a woman is stimulated with fertility injections or hormone treatments to control egg production. These fertility injections are usually high dosage injections and are high stimulants which cause the woman to produce multiple eggs. Conventional IVF techniques have certain side-effects, the major ones being the risk of causing OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) and risk of multiple births. Multiple birth is a pregnancy problem that causes certain complications like increased chances of pre-term births, chances of having a C-section, miscarriages, baby being born with birth defects/ genetic disorders etc. Multiple pregnancies conceived by assisted reproductive technology poses greater risk of pregnancy problems.

OHSS occurs in certain susceptible women taking hormonal injections to stimulate production of eggs, where the ovaries over react and produce excess number of eggs. Mild cases of OHSS can be managed with conservative measures but extreme cases may even lead to death of the patient. These complications occur in very few woman and there are ways of preventing them.

Conventional IVF methods have been used for a long period of time and have had success rates as well. Now with the presence of an improved technique of ART called IVF Lite, more and more couples tend to prefer this technique over the conventional one.

IVF Lite or minimal stimulation technique is a simpler treatment method that Aster IVF & Women Clinic provides to make the process of ART less invasive for women. IVF Lite involves oral fertility medications instead of fertility injections leading to milder stimulation with better quality eggs. It is often said that the older a woman, lesser are her chances of conceiving which is true because with age, a woman’s ovarian reserve becomes less. This belief holds true in today’s time and age where couples wish to grow professionally and be completely financially sound before having a baby. Even IVF success rates drop after women cross the age of 40. IVF Lite is a technique that help couples increase their chances of getting pregnant even after a designated age. IVF Lite technique can be used to treat women who wish to get pregnant even after the age of 40 and Aster IVF & Women Clinic has been successfully treating women over 40 with low ovarian reserve with this method. IVF Lite technique can be used to treat women who have had failed prior IVF attempts, poor and hyper responders and women with endometriosis.

Dr. Gautam Allahbadia, IVF Consultant and Head of Aster IVF & Women Clinic states that “Infertility is a major issue in this region and the number of women seeking infertility treatment only seems to be increasing. A common issue faced here is that couples delay their pregnancy due to various reasons and also delay in seeking medical help. They consult a specialist only years after unsuccessful attempts at being pregnant. Age, health complications like PCOS, obesity are all reasons of infertility and IVF success rates drop drastically after a certain point. Age is surely a reason to cause infertility, but it is a misconception that this issue is seen only in older women. At Aster IVF & Women Clinic we have seen patients below the age of 25 with fertility issues. Of late easier and less expensive fertility treatment techniques have greater demand because of its advantages. IVF Lite is one technique of ART, which was originally introduced to treat women with low ovarian reserve but in the recent past, it has shown to have positive results in women over 40 as well, which a great advantage in today’s age is given the changing ideologies and lifestyle preferences.”

Mild ovarian stimulation method or IVF Lite has a great number of advantages over conventional IVF techniques including fewer medications, safer and with quality eggs. IVF Lite is also a feasible choice for couples who chose the cost-effective technique. IVF Lite also presents very favorable pregnancies in women who are over the age of 40 and those who have had previous unsuccessful IVF attempts.

Experts recommend IVF Lite as a new approach for women who are poor or hyper responders, suffer from endometriosis, have previous unexplained IVF failures or are over 37 years old. Aster IVF & Women Clinic offers IVF Lite as a safer and patient friendly alternative to conventional IVF treatments.

News Courtesy : Khaleej Times

Mild Ovarian Stimulation is a Safer IVF option, say experts in UAE

Through IVF Lite, Aster IVF & Women Clinic is aiming to make fertility treatments in UAE affordable and less invasive for women.

· Based on recent research findings that milder ovarian stimulations result in chromosomally normal eggs, IVF Lite involves lower dosage of fertility drugs and retrieval of fewer eggs in each cycle.[i]

· Only clinic in UAE offering cost-effective and safer solutions for IVF treatment
Through IVF Lite, Aster IVF & Women Clinic is aiming to make fertility treatments in UAE affordable and less invasive for women.

· Based on recent research findings that milder ovarian stimulations result in chromosomally normal eggs, IVF Lite involves lower dosage of fertility drugs and retrieval of fewer eggs in each cycle.

· Only clinic in UAE offering cost-effective and safer solutions for IVF treatment

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – IVF Lite or Minimal Stimulation IVF is an advanced and simpler treatment protocol, associated with stimulation of quality and fewer eggs from each cycle providing better tolerability for patients over lesser time to complete the IVF cycle.[ii] Experts at Aster IVF & Women Clinic in Bur Dubai are witnessing successful results of the treatment in older women (40 and above) as well as those with low ovarian reserve, multiple IVF failures, hyper-responders or poor responders to medication. In addition, it also negates the long-term complications associated with traditional IVF procedure.

With changing ideologies and the lifestyles, couples today opt for pregnancies later in life. However, women aged 40 and above face a higher risk of complications in normal pregnancies, and even IVF success rates drop. Delayed fertility treatment could also lead to complications. Experts say that women over 40 must seek medical help within at least six months of trying and failing to conceive because a woman’s fertility progressively drops after 40. According to Dubai Health Authority (DHA), around 50 per cent of women in UAE face infertility issues. Research by Aster DM Healthcare predicts that the number of women seeking treatment for infertility every year could almost double from 5,975 cases in 2015 to 9,139 cases by 2030.[iii] IVF Lite increases the options available to couples looking for infertility treatment. With fewer side effects, less invasive techniques and lower costs, Aster’s IVF Lite is an easily accessible program that couples can avail of in the UAE.

“We receive patients at the Aster IVF & Women Clinic every day for consultation on infertility. Late marriages and late motherhood are common causes of infertility. In the UAE, high Body Mass Index (BMI) and diabetes are also some of the reasons associated with infertility. Across the UAE, several expat women travel back to their home country for treatment because of the trauma involved and the cost associated with traditional IVF. With Aster IVF Lite, however, we are striving to ensure that all couples who are facing difficulties in starting a family have a viable option to turn to that is cost effective and has shown a good success rate,” said Dr. Gautam Allahbadia, IVF Consultant and Head of Aster IVF & Women Clinic.

Dubai is a popular destination for medical tourism and patients from across the Middle East and North Africa travel to the UAE seeking fertility treatment. Boasting highly trained specialists, stringent controls and standards, regulations that allow treatment for all, and internationally accredited lab facilities, Aster IVF & Women Clinic offers convenient packages for people in whose home countries fertility treatments are limited or restricted.

Aster IVF & Women Clinic is the only clinic in the UAE to offer IVF Lite – a complete package of stimulation, accumulation and vitrification of oocytes and remote or deferred embryo transfer. The treatment is overseen by Aster experts who are pioneers in Minimal Stimulation IVF in Asia.Aster recommends IVF Lite for women above the age of 40; women who have had multiple failed attempts at conventional IVF treatments; women with low ovarian reserve; those who are looking for a more cost effective IVF treatment.

As the recent global trend in IVF moves towards single embryo transfers, the quality of the embryo is very important. IVF Lite involves soft stimulation involving lesser amount of fertility drugs and is designed to retrieve only a few eggs in each ovarian stimulation cycle. Recent research has shown that stimulation in this manner has been associated with better quality eggs and hence better quality embryos. It is a simpler treatment schedule with fewer side effects and lower risks of Multiple Pregnancy and Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).iii

Aster IVF & Women Clinic takes a holistic approach to women’s health offering a broad spectrum of care for different phases of a woman’s life. Patients can avail of various treatments including state-of-the-art Ovulation Induction, recurrent miscarriage screening and therapies, IUI, IVF, ICSI and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Screening using Next Generation Sequencing for 100% 24-chromosome diagnosis including elective PGD-IVF Sex Selection for family-balancing. The women’s health specialty also offers gynaecological services, investigation and treatment related to menstrual disorders, treatment for Urinary Dysfunction, Physiotherapy, Wellness, Yoga and Cosmetology.


Specialist recommends patient-friendly alternative to conventional IVF

DUBAI: Reproductive healthcare has been projected to become a $21.6 billion industry by 2020, up from $9.3 billion in 2012 due to the rising infertility cases around the world, according to a research study accomplished by a reputed healthcare provider in the UAE.

On the patients’ side, Dr Gautam Allahbadia, author of many peer-reviewed articles  instrumental in the development of new fertility-enhancing protocols, said, “The psychological, physical, emotional, and financial stress experienced by a couple undergoing (IVF) treatment is very high.”

Therefore, from his 26 years of exposure in the field of reproductive health and fertility issues, the best procedure he recommended is the IVF Lite.

“Mild stimulation (IVF Lite) represents a patient-friendly alternative to conventional IVF,” the Aster Hospital IVF & Women Clinic medical director said.

The facility is among the speciality care division of the Aster DM Healthcare conglomerate which completed the UAE study.

“If the patient is anxious about the side effects of hormones, she will be greatly relieved if she is offered minimal stimulation instead of the conventional aggressive regimen,” Allahabadia said.

He currently oversees 68 patients, 40 of which are undergoing IVF treatments.

The patients are from the UAE and Eastern Europe as well as Central and South Asia.

Of the 40 patients, 20 were suggested to go through the IVF Lite.

The other 20 are taking the conventional IVF because they have had recurrent miscarriages and failed IVF, are suffering from abnormal uterus conditions and any other form of medical concern or are into late pregnancy.

Saying that the only solution he could see for infertility is IVF as child-bearing in all countries cutting across social-economic-educational-political spheres is a pressure, Allahbadia said, “The decision of treatment is based on various medical factors. Each individual’s body responds differently to a treatment. Traditional IVF treatments can be given to all patients.”

“However, IVF Lite is preferred for its advantages of milder stimulations which reduce the risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which could be fatal) and lower the risks of multiple pregnancies (multiple births),” he added.

According to Allahbadia, IVF Lite was developed after it had been noticed that the conventional IVF had become more burdensome to the patients bombarded with huge dosages of hormones for between 11 and 13 days every menstrual cycle.

IVF Lite was developed separately between seven and eight years back by two reproductive health experts.

From Japan was the late Dr Osamu Kato, “a pioneer and statesman in the development of natural and mild stimulation cycle, IVF, vitrification of unfertilized embryos and occytes banking for cancer patients” who set up clinics in the Philippines, US and China.

The other was American-Chinese Dr John Zhang who is enjoying immense success as a fertility specialist in New York.

Both discovered that the whitish to pale yellow crystalline powder chlomyphene citrate could be an effective IVF tablet.

Chlomyphene citrate is a component of a fertility pill since the 1960s.
Source : GulfToday (

One in five couples in the UAE are seeking fertility treatment

Does the clinic have a more private entrance?’

This was the question Dr Pankaj Shrivastav would be asked most frequently by potential patients when he first established the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre – the UAE’s first fertility unit – at Rashid Hospital in July 1991.

‘Seeking medical intervention for fertility-related issues was seen in a negative light in those days,’ he recalls.

Twenty-five years on, thanks to greater awareness on the issue, the stigma of going in for fertility treatment has become a thing of the past. ‘Today in the UAE, infertility is viewed as a medical condition; not something to be shied away from,’ says Dr Shrivastav, who is now Director of Conceive Fertility Hospital in Sharjah and Dubai.

It is estimated that infertility affects 15 percent of the global population of reproductive age, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called it ‘a global public health issue’.

According to a recent study conducted by Aster DM Healthcare, one in five couples in the UAE face fertility issues – a figure that is higher than the world average. The same study also revealed statistics that projected the incidence of infertile women in Dubai seeking treatment every year to almost double from 5,975 in 2015 to 9,139 in 2030.

Not surprisingly, this increased demand for fertility services has seen a spurt in the rise of specialist clinics opening up across the UAE. Last year, NMC Health invested Dh696 million in Fakih IVF Group to tap into the booming fertility market, and Aster opened its new IVF clinic in Mankhool in May this year.

While there are multiple causes for infertility, social factors such as late marriages play a pivotal role in difficulties of conception, says Dr Gautam Allahbadia, IVF Consultant & Head at Aster IVF & Women Clinic. ‘Across the region and globally, more women are working than ever before and a large percentage of them delay starting a family until well established in their careers. But the ticking biological clock in women cannot be overlooked, for a woman’s fertility peaks between the age of 26 to 28, after which there’s a steady decline.’

However, certain causes are specific to the Middle East region and particularly the UAE, adds Dr Allahbadia. ‘The high rate of obesity in the country brought on chiefly by a sedentary lifestyle is taking its toll as a prime influencer for infertility occurrence. Our research shows that 47.5 per cent of UAE residents are overweight, which WHO estimates is double the world average.’

In women, obesity can cause hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation, while it impacts males by reducing sperm quality. Infertility rates can also be twice as high in smokers, both male and female, compared to non-smokers, he adds. ‘Surveys show that 18.1 per cent of the UAE population are smokers, and this is taking a toll on fertility rates as it not only lowers sperm counts in men but also reduces the success rates of fertility treatments.’

The Middle East and South Asia are known for high incidence of diabetes, but diabetes is very closely related to a hormonal problem called PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome, says Dr Shrivastav. ‘PCOS is [characterised by] insulin resistance and often appears with weight gain. With high obesity rates in the UAE, PCOS is a contributing factor to female infertility.’

Lifestyle choices play a paramount role in fertility, he continues. ‘Apart from cigarette smoking, a disturbing trend is the rise of shisha smoking among young males and females. Today, 18- to 24-year-olds have picked up the habit as a social event to bond with friends. While the health impact of shisha smoking on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems are well documented, very few are aware that in females, shisha has a direct toxic effect on eggs, while in males, sperm production is highly compromised leading to significantly lowered semen volume, semen count and decreased sperm motility.’

Dr Shrivastav is equally concerned about the increasing number of young women showing a premature decrease in the number of eggs in their ovaries. ‘What is striking about the phenomenon of diminished ovarian reserve is that the ovaries of a 30- to 32-year-old behave like that of a 40- to 42-year-old. While no studies have established a link, my suspicion is that the environmental toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis – bisphenols, pesticides, vehicle fumes, commercial cleaning products, plastic containers, hormones in meat, etc. – are finally catching up to us. These contain endocrine disruptors, which prevent both male and female hormones from functioning normally.’

Men who pump their bodies with anabolic steroids to build up muscle mass are also essentially killing off sperms, he warns, as such drugs interfere with the hormone signals needed to produce sperm.

Sociocultural factors have led to a long tradition of consanguineous marriages across the Arab world and the UAE is no exception, says Dr Ghina Shami, Specialist OB/GYN-IVF at Fakih IVF fertility centre in Dubai. ‘Research indicates that this could also have an effect on the reproductive health of the progeny of such marriages.’

However, the chief redeeming factor in the spiralling cases of infertility in the region is the fact that it is no longer seen as a women-centric issue, she adds. ‘The promise of fatherhood means that men are showing the same commitment to tests and treatments as women. Additionally, couples have become more aware of the risks of delay and are seeking help earlier. This helps us in diagnosing problems at a nascent stage and administering effective treatment.’

Citing his personal experience, Michael*, 32, recommends couples not delay seeking treatment. It was when his wife showed no signs of conceiving even after several months of their decision to start a family that he consulted an endocrinologist. ‘I was devastated when I learnt that I had an obstruction in the epididymis, a duct located at the back of the testicles that stores and carries sperm. This blockage meant that there was zero sperm count in the semen.’

It was hard to get over the initial shock, he admits. ‘I was completely shattered thinking we’d never have a family of our own.’

However, a consultation with Dr Allahbadia in Dubai not only gave him the much-needed emotional support but also showed him the way forward. ‘I was advised to go in for a testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) procedure to retrieve sperms surgically. The sperms thus drawn out were fertilised with my wife’s egg in vitro [outside the body in a laboratory], and fortunately for us, the very first attempt was a success. My wife is two months pregnant now and we hope to have a healthy baby early next year.’

For Aarti*, another UAE resident, after more than eight years of popping pills, taking injections and submitting to every form of treatment prescribed by several gynaecologists in Dubai and abroad, it was eventually IVF that helped her conceive a healthy baby boy recently.

‘Awareness of infertility issues and treatments available were almost negligible when I got married in 1996,’ says Aarti.

In her fifth year of marriage a gynaecologist recommended IUI, intrauterine insemination, a procedure that increases the number of sperms reaching the fallopian tubes to further the chances of fertilisation. But the continuous intake of ovulation stimulation medicines played havoc with her mood, says Aarti. ‘I was constantly angry, frustrated and irritable.’

Despite the wholehearted support of her husband, in-laws and friends, she began to get woefully depressed. ‘The pressures that were building up came from within; I was fighting many battles within.’

After five years of IUI, she decided to put a stop to any further treatments. ‘This was when a friend – much against my will – dragged me to Dr Pankaj Shrivastav in Sharjah. He looked at my X-ray and said the left fallopian tube was blocked.

‘To know that I had been misdiagnosed and that all the treatments I had undergone had been in vain was shocking, to say the least,’ she says. Fortunately for Aarti and her husband, their very first attempt at IVF was successful and they became proud parents, 10 years after marriage. A second son was born last year, again through IVF.

With the population of the UAE having risen from around two million in the early Nineties, when the first fertility clinic was established, to more than nine million in 2016, this surge alone has led to the need for more fertility clinics here. Meeting this demand are a host of big and small clinics and hospitals offering a range of assisted reproductive technologies in various price ranges. With such an abundance of choice, what should be the defining criteria when choosing a clinic or specialist? Or when should a couple decide to go in for treatment?

Dr Shrivastav minces no words: ‘People have exaggerated ideas about their own fertility. Some very young couples attempt to conceive right away and if they’re not successful, they get tensed and impatient.’

Humans are a low fertility species, he says. ‘We should give up this unrealistic expectation of getting pregnant immediately. My advice for very young couples is to first look at your lifestyle habits, your weight, BMI. Take stock of these and rectify if 
need be.’

Fertility in females declines from age 28, accelerating in the late 30s to a precipitous decline after 40. ‘If you’re below 35 and have no obvious problem, I’d advise couples to try for at least six to nine months, but if you’re above 35, wait no more than six months before consulting a fertility specialist.’

Dr Allahbadia cautions that going the route of a GP followed by a gynaecologist could cost a couple 18 to 24 months. ‘Remember, you are running a race against time before the eggs run out. Just like you would go to a cardiologist for cardiac problems, I recommend going directly to a fertility physician for conception issues.’

‘We must concede that medical technology may not always come to our aid if we delay starting a family,’ he adds. ‘Give pregnancy a priority if you are above 28 or 30. Or opt to freeze eggs when you are 25 to 30 to take the pressure off for those who marry late.’

When it comes to choosing a fertility clinic or specialist of your choice, Dr Shrivastav believes adequate research is vital. ‘Infertility treatments require intense care and expert guidance. You need to look for qualified doctors and clinics with proven successful outcomes. Personally, I believe, reputation does count and the traditional word-of-mouth is the best recommendation.’ There’s no denying that fertility treatments are expensive, but clinics that offer reduced prices may also be cutting corners, 
he cautions.

Treatment options include fertility drugs for men and women, intrauterine insemination, and a range of injections and surgeries. IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) and IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are currently among the most expensive assisted reproductive technologies in the UAE.

The advent of PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) in the UAE, which tests for overall chromosomal normalcy in embryos, is a boon for couples with diseases running in the family. ‘The UAE also allows for couples to opt for the gender of their choice as part of Family Balancing to achieve a balanced representation of both genders in the family,’ says Dr Allahbadia. ‘Gender is selected by Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), a technology that involves testing the chromosomal make-up of an embryo, and is done in conjunction with IVF.’ The US and the UAE are the only two countries where this is legal, and is one of the prime reasons attracting medical tourists to Dubai, he adds.

Fertility treatments, especially IVF, are one of the most sought-after procedures among medical tourists in Dubai. Childless couples topped the list of people who visit the emirate for healthcare, according to a 2014 study by Dubai Healthcare City. Medical tourists pour in from across the GCC, East and North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Asia.

‘The reputation of integrity that fertility clinics and hospitals here have, with good success rates, excellent lab facilities, and qualified specialists, is bringing larger numbers of medical tourists every year,’ says Dr Shami. ‘Overcoming the heartbreak of childlessness with the help of medical intervention is today a reality among couples not just in the UAE, and is seen as an accepted form of achieving parenthood.’


Source :-

Baby steps – FAQ’s on Infertility

Statistics show that one in five couples in the UAE face fertility issues, a figure that is higher than in other parts of the world.  As per the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) latest findings, around 50 per cent of women in the UAE face issues pertaining to infertility.  This is in large part caused by a shifting demographic trend coupled with late marriages, and consequently, late attempts to start a family.

At the recent inauguration of the Aster IVF & Women Clinic, it was observed that fertility treatments in the UAE need to become easily accessible and affordable to tackle the growing infertility numbers among couples.

Dr. Gautam Allahabadia, Medical Director of Aster IVF and Women Clinic delves into the various aspects of infertility in the UAE.

Is infertility still a subject that women shy away from or is there a growing awareness about the treatments available to resolve this?
Today women recognise infertility as a medical issue and are much more open to consulting Infertility Specialists. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive.  If you are over the age of 35, the time of trying to conceive is reduced to 6 months.  It is important to see a Fertility specialist, or a Reproductive Endocrinologist, or in some cases your Obstetrician and Gynaecologist or Urologist for a complete fertility check-up and diagnosis.

What are the common causes for infertility?
Painful or irregular periods, unable to pinpoint ovulation days, partner having a history of sexually transmitted disease for which he has undergone treatment, unhealthy BMI, more than one miscarriage are some of the common causes. Other reasons are Endometriosis, a disorder of the female reproductive system in which the endometrial tissue (the normal lining of the uterus) is found outside the uterine cavity. Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) when the endometrium is inadequately prepared, either because the secretion of progesterone by the ovary is below normal or because the endometrium isn’t responding to the normal stimulation by progesterone. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a very common hormone disorder in women, a leading cause of infertility, and one of the most under diagnosed diseases in the UAE. Infertility of about 30 per cent is also due to a male problem such as structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances and immunologic disorders.

What are the other known types of infertility?
There is a condition called Secondary Infertility which is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. Unexplained Infertility is experienced by one in five couples despite completing a full infertility work-up. The emotional response to hearing, “there is no apparent reason for your infertility” can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are many options available for the couple diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Besides, abnormalities of the uterus can have a significant impact on the ability of a woman to conceive and to carry a pregnancy successfully. Some women have an abnormally developed uterus from birth (congenital) while others may develop a uterine problem due to infection or surgery (acquired).

What are the unhealthy lifestyle choices leading to infertility?
There is an increasing body of evidence that lifestyle factors can impact reproductive performance. For example, studies have demonstrated that smoking in women significantly decreases the chance of conception. In males, smoking negatively affects sperm production, motility and morphology and is associated with an increased risk of DNA damage. In the female, the constituents of cigarette smoke may affect the follicular microenvironment and alter hormone levels in the luteal phase. Obesity and low body weight can impact reproductive function by causing hormone imbalances and ovulatory dysfunction. Alcohol is a known teratogen and its consumption has been reported to decrease fertility.

Fertility treatments as a broad rule are considered expensive…
This is because the equipment, fertility injections and consumables that go into making babies in the laboratory are very expensive with a short expiry. At Aster IVF, we have introduced treatments like IVF Lite which decrease the total amount of fertility injections and hormones that go into a patient with lesser harmful effects and better pregnancy rates in most groups of patients. With decreasing costs and increasing patient compliance, treatments such as IVF Lite are the future of Assisted Conception.

How important is counselling and explaining the various options that are available to a patient, as a good starting point before a treatment is suggested?
A person suffering from infertility will face complex issues, which span biological, psychological, social and ethical domains. Discussion of these issues in a counselling context is often beneficial for patients. The aim of counselling is to explore, understand and resolve issues arising from infertility and infertility treatment and to clarify ways of dealing with the problem more effectively.


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