Josephine Piralta with her baby. When 25-year-old Josephine Peralta and her 28-year-old husband started planning a family, they never imagined that it would take them six years of continuous struggle to achieve their dream. Image Credit: Organiser

Dubai: Vitamin D deficiency is a likely contributor in infertility, a specialist at a Dubai-based fertility centre warned.

Dr Shazia Magray, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Bourn Hall Fertility Centre, said the warning is especially relevant to the UAE, where more than 90 per cent of residents are vitamin D deficient, according to the International Osteoporosis Federation.

The centre had treated Josephine Peralta, who was found vitamin D deficient with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism when she was aged 25. The couple, after years of trying and various failed treatments, eventually decided to opt for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) at Bourn Hall Fertility Centre.

After the first IVF, she gave birth at the age of 31 to a baby girl.

Dr Magray, who treated Peralta, said: “Infertility in young couples has become a growing phenomenon, and we’re seeing many people below the age of 30, who are opting for Assisted Reproductive Techniques.

“Almost 30 to 40 per cent of infertility cases are unexplained, since there is no obvious cause. But among the causes that can be diagnosed, we’ve found PCO) to be quite significant, since it has a direct impact on the quality of eggs.”

She added: “However, another big contributing player that most people are unaware of is vitamin D deficiency, which results in poor reproductive forecast both in cases of natural conception and assisted reproductive technology.”

Several studies have forged a strong relationship between vitamin D deficiency and infertility, particularly with respect to IVF failure, according to the centre.

The active form of Vitamin D — calcitriol — not just controls the oestrogen content in a woman, but many other genes that are involved in embryo implantation. Moreover, the vitamin helps in fighting infections during pregnancy. Vitamin D supplementation also contributes to egg cell maturation in women affected by PCOS while its deficiency worsens the hormonal imbalance, making them prone to miscarriage. Lack of vitamin D can result in complications, such as gestational hypertension and diabetes. Further, research data presented last year suggests links between poor semen quality, testosterone levels and vitamin D deficiency.

“Couples looking to start a family need to be in an optimal state of vitamin D, including those who are opting for IVF. Higher vitamin D levels in couples significantly improve the IVF rate of success compared to those with lower levels. Sufficient intake also helps produce high-quality eggs during IVF.”

Peralta thanked the centre’s staff, saying: “The first time I cried happy tears was when I heard I was pregnant, and then again when I heard the sound of my baby’s cry.”