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‘You get what you pay for when it comes to IVF treatment,’ UAE doctors say

DUBAI // Couples should look beyond a fertility clinic’s success rate before signing up for an in-vitro fertilisation scheme, and avoid cut-price deals, doctors warned.

Couples would “get what they pay for” and should prepare for a significant financial commitment if they want the IVF treatment to be successful, said doctors at a Dubai Health Authority event marking International Family Day.

Couples who conceived children through treatments at the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre revealed their experiences there.

Moldovan Oxana Josan, a resident of Ras Al Khaimah, arrived in the UAE nine years ago with her husband, Andrei Ianovici. After trying to conceive naturally for five years and suffering a miscarriage, they turned to medical science.

“We have spent almost US$50,000 (Dh183,645) on the treatments but it has been worth it,” Ms Josan said. My children are like treasure to me. The process was very stressful, taking hormones is damaging and it changes you.

“When it is not successful the first time, it is very stressful.

“You are always afraid to lose the children, or that there will be problems.”

The couple managed to produce twin girls – Victoria and Arina – more than a year ago.

In vitro fertilisation is considered one of the most effective fertility treatments. It involves retrieving the woman’s eggs from the ovaries and fertilising them outside the body. The embryo is cultured for up to five days before being transferred to the uterus.

Infertility affects between 8 and 16 per cent of couples. The major causes include sperm abnormalities, tubal obstruction, endometriosis, ovulatory disorder and unexplained infertility.

Multiple pregnancies are more common in cases involving in-vitro fertilisation but complications can ensue, said Dr Styliani Andronikou, laboratory director and consultant embryologist at the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre.

“If some clinics are pushing their success rates they can encourage multiple pregnancies and that is not always safe or healthy,” she said.

“The pregnancy is more risky and the mother is more vulnerable to gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or premature birth.

“We want to get couples pregnant and more babies look good on our statistics, but it is not something we would do if it is unsafe.”

Mariam bin Zayed, 37, an Emirati in Dubai, delivered twins Aisha and Omar two years ago after undergoing fertility treatment at the centre.

She said it was a stressful experience and that she was found to have endometriosis, a painful uterus disorder.

“As soon as I was married I began trying for a baby, for six years,” she said. “It was difficult to conceive naturally.

“Everyone was saying I had to be a mother, and there was a lot of pressure.

“I knew it was more important to be healthy. I had an operation with the doctor and everything changed.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I could not believe it. I never thought it would happen.”

The Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre opened in 1991.

The centre has delivered more than 4,200 babies using ­assisted reproductive technology, a success rate of 62 per cent, above the international average of 52 per cent.

Of those births, 100 babies were born to Emirati couples who chose the Amal Initiative, a Dubai Health A­uthority-sponsored fertility treatment for national with fertility problems, which was launched in 2013.

“There is a big demand for IVF treatment in Dubai,” said Dr Wael Ismail, medical director of the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre.

“The most important thing in our practice is quality but, like in any successful service, there is the temptation to cut corners and use cheaper offers to conceive.

“That can cause problems. You get what you pay for.”

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The National