Abu Dhabi: A plethora of fertility clinics in the UAE now offer solutions to patients requiring in-vitro fertilisation services, reversing a trend where UAE nationals were forced to travel abroad for the facility.

Even people from different parts of the world are thronging these clinics.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a treatment for infertility that involves removal of the ova (eggs) from the ovaries and fertilising it with a sperm in a fluid medium.

The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus for a successful pregnancy.

With improvements in ultrasound imaging, surgery is no longer essential for most IVF patients. A sonographically-guided needle replaces the surgical procedure, called the Transvaginal Oocyte Retrieval, omitting necessity for hospitalisation and anaesthesia.

Dr Pankaj Shrivastav, Director of Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital, Sharjah, and one of the initiators for IVF in Rashid Hospital in 1991, said: "When we started off in 1991 the majority of patients preferred to travel abroad. Now there is a nice twist to medical tourism in the UAE."

Medical advice

Dr Shrivastav, who has witnessed the birth of over 2,000 babies with IVF treatment, said: "Anyone who can't get pregnant within a year of trying needs to seek medical advice. A female over the age of 38 years obviously [has] declining fertility and is coming towards the end of her reproductive span. She needs to see a doctor within the first six months if there is no sign of pregnancy."

He added that men with poor or low sperm count must undergo a procedure called Pesa (percutaneous epidydimal sperm aspiration), which involves insertion of a fine needle without any hassle of a surgery.

Dr Shrivastav said men who are completely paralyzed waist down and cannot ejaculate, can be treated using Pesa. These patients can go home half an hour after the procedure. Another option is freezing sperms.

"The possibility of pregnancy ... for a patient cannot be predicted, as it depends on many variables, such as age and the reproductive health of both the wife and the husband. Although the chances of success vary from case to case, a thorough evaluation is required to predict the probability of pregnancy in any given situation," stressed Dr Shrivastav.

Dr Ghada M. Hosny, IVF Specialist at the New IVF Centre in Emirates Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News embryo freezing using the vitrification technique has raised pregnancy rate of the frozen embryo transfer cycles to 50 per cent, which is close to the pregnancy rate in fresh embryo transfer cycles.

She added that infertility issues have increased nowadays due to delayed age of marriage of a woman, lifestyle habits such as smoking and junk diet, lack of ovulation and also ejaculatory problems.

Clinic check

The following centres offer IVF services:

- Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital, Sharjah.

- Life Line Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

- New Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi.

- Dubai Fertility Centre, Dubai.

- Tawam Centre, Al Ain.

- British Clinic, Abu Dhabi.

- Emirates Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

- Al Noor Hospital, Abu Dhabi.