Oman’s IVF treatment: Making parents’ dreams come true
September 12, 2018 | 7:55 PM
by Shruthi Nair
A dream come true for parents having difficulty in conceiving.

When a couple is trying to conceive, it means they are ready. Ready to change their lives completely, ready to take on immense amounts of responsibility and ready to welcome a new life. They start planning ahead, dreaming big, imagining situations, and preparing for the child’s future with an ecstatic eagerness to begin a new chapter of their lives.

Imagine if they are given the heartbreaking news that they cannot conceive. If you think such cases are rare, then you’re sadly mistaken. Some one in eight couples (or 12 per cent of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to the National Survey of Family Growth, Centre for Disease Control.

So, if a couple isn’t able to have a child, does it mean that it is the end of their hopes and dreams and nothing can be done? We are in the tech age where technology has advanced so much that there seems to be a solution for almost everything. Even medical technology has come a long way, where stem cell is a reality and we perhaps aren’t too far away from finding the cure for terminal illnesses such as cancer.

Hence, there is absolutely no reason to feel hopeless when it comes to reproduction and conception, as there are a number of options available, including surrogacy, donated sperm/donated eggs, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

“In IVF, you get the eggs from the woman by a special procedure and sperms from the man and then the egg is fertilised by a procedure called ICI and then it is put in the incubators to make an embryo. This embryo is then put inside the uterus,” explained Dr Majida Al Iryahim, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, at Muscat Private Hospital.

IVF is a procedure that is increasingly gaining ground in Oman, where more and more people are warming up to this as an alternative procedure if natural means don’t work. IVF is an assisted reproductive technology, where the process of fertilisation takes place by extracting the eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish.

There are a number of hospitals in the Sultanate that provide IVF services to their patients. There are trained medical and nursing practitioners and embryologists who make patients feel as though they are in safe hands.

Years ago, it would’ve been considered as a dead end for couples who weren’t able to conceive naturally. Other options were not even heeded to. But that has completely changed now with a general societal acceptance and awareness of the different safe options that abide by one’s religious, cultural, and personal beliefs. “This is not a taboo because we adhere to the culture and beliefs of the country. We don’t consider sperm donors, embryo donors, or surrogacy. The confidentiality is still very important to a lot of people. But nowadays, more and more people are relaxed about it. Awareness has improved a lot thanks to the internet, media and education,” she said.

There are a number of men and women in Oman suffering from fertility disorders and are slowly breaking the taboo and coming out in the open to discuss it without shying away from addressing the problem. In fact, there are certain private social media groups where doctors, patients, and those who are trying to get pregnant come together to understand it better. “This group is a women-only group, specifically women trying to conceive, and women undergoing, or thinking of undergoing fertility treatment in Oman. A safe place to discuss all things fertility in the context of where we are, including pre-testing, testing, preparation, IVF and fertility procedures, specific clinics, laws, links to academic studies, natural therapies and supplements, etc., but most of all a place where women can support each other and make educated decisions on their fertility journey in a safe environment,” is the description of the IVF and Infertility Support Group – Oman.

“There may be a number of reasons for infertility, the dominant ones apart from medical conditions and disorders in the man and woman, being the current lifestyle that includes unhealthy food habits and the lack of exercise, overexposure to certain environment factors, smoking and drinking, etc. There might also be internal unavoidable factors such as abnormal sperm production, genetic diseases, ovulation disorders and the likes. Infertility is becoming a common problem and hence it is becoming paramount to address it. Not only is the number of patients approaching hospitals with fertility disorders high, but the success rate of the treatment is also quite impressive. “Every month, we see in the range of around 50 new patients on an average. But all of them do not necessarily go for IVF. The success rate is related to age and obesity. The average success rate universally would be 25 to 30 per cent per cycle,” the doctor said.

That IVF has helped parents achieve their dream is visible as one walks through the alleyways of the IVF facility at the Muscat Private Hospital. You see the walls adorned with quotes, gratitude cards, and adorable pictures of babies that were sent by happy parents whose smiles were returned to their faces because of IVF. “Our little miracle has arrived, but without you it would not have been possible,” said one quote, while another read, “There are very few words to describe my thanks for your efforts in making our dream come true.”

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