ABU DHABI 16 April 2017: An Emirati couple in their early 40s has become one of the few couples in the UAE to experience childbirth at an advanced age.
“The journey has been long, but the results are sweet. IVI Middle East Fertility Clinic gave us the family we thought we’d never have,” said Ayesha, a second-time parent to a healthy baby.
Ayesha and her husband Hamid, both around 40 years, were fighting secondary infertility since eight years. They had no problem conceiving their first child, but trying for a second baby was getting complicated. Unable to figure out, the couple consulted the fertility specialist at IVI Fertility and found that Ayesha had very low ovarian reserve while Hamid was diagnosed with azoospermia – a condition which results in no sperm in the conceiving process.
“Post first consultation, Hamid was administered a hormonal therapy for three months which significantly improved his sperm quality. He was also recommended to freeze his semen multiple times so that they could be used later in the In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) / Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment,” said Prof. Dr. Human Fatemi, Medical Director of IVI Middle East Fertility Clinic Abu Dhabi, Subspecialist Reproductive Medicine & Reproductive Surgery.
“We put a lot of emphasis on patient education. Extensive counselling is given to familiarise them with the designed treatment. Before the start, the clinic also customises the ovarian stimulation protocol as per the patient’s needs for egg production. These eggs are then collected and each egg is injected with a single sperm from the spouse. The rest of the process is same as IVF,” added Dr. Fatemi.
Additionally, Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) was done on the resulting embryos to rule out any chromosomal abnormality due to Ayesha’s advanced maternal age. This test is done to screen for abnormalities in the embryos prior to the transfer to ensure a healthy child.
Once the process was complete, the healthiest embryo was selected and transferred, which resulted in a successful pregnancy, and the rest, preserved for future use post Haad approval which is the norm in the UAE. With IVI’s treatment, even advanced maternal age and azoospermia did not stop the couple from finally having the healthy baby they always dreamt of.
“Since a patient is more likely to become pregnant with twins or triplets if more than one embryo is transferred, a single embryo transfer (SET) is recommended wherever possible”, concluded Dr. Barbara Lawrenz, Specialist Obstetrics & Gynecology, IVI Middle East Fertility Clinic.
Women Fertility Peaks at 40
While science today has helped women take control of their biological clock, the complications of bearing a child at a later age are undeniable. Biologically, a woman’s fertility peaks in her 20’s and starts to decline from around the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35.
With advancing age, women’s ovaries become less able to release eggs, thus decreasing the chances of fertility. A healthy 30-year-old has about a 20 per cent chance each month of getting pregnant, while a healthy 40-year-old has about a 5 per cent chance each month. For women age 45 to 49, the odds dip as low as 1 per cent.
Due to the declining quality and quantity of eggs, women who become pregnant in their 40’s have an increased risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, gestational diabetes, hypertension and having a baby with a congenital abnormality.
“As more couples in the UAE are turning to In-Vitro Fertilisation treatment to conceive children, it is recommended that couples avail the treatment at an early age to experience healthy conception,” concluded Dr. Fatemi.
By Sheena Amos