Maryam and Omar (name changed) battled with their crisis for years. In their picture perfect life what they missed was having a child and irrespective of all the necessary treatment that was needed to be blessed with a small bundle of joy, luck was not in their favour. While friends and family hounded them with their curious queries on their plans on having children, some were even insensitive to envy their carefree life sans children and called them DINKS (Double Income No Kids). Though they mastered the art of hiding their emotions and feelings from the world and carefully evaded the inquisitiveness of people, their hearts ached when people discussed about children and they stood in involuntary silence because they had nothing to share ... such and many more tales are galore in this journey called infertility. A journey that no one chooses to take but it just happens.
Childlessness has always been a private sorrow, be it the physical trauma of going through the invasive tests and diagnose or the mental stress related to it. That’s how it has been all these years. Veiled by myths, inhibitions, and doubts, infertility has always been a subject that has been pushed aside. But not any more. With the advancement in the treatment options and the growing medical centres in town, infertility is no more a problem to be suffered in silence. Dr Majida Al Irhayim, senior consultant gynaecologist and infertility head, Assisted Conception Unit at Muscat Private Hospital, brings rays of hope to help couples become better equipped with every aspect of what might be the greatest struggle of their lives so far.
“Infertility is when a couple fails to achieve a pregnancy despite having regular unprotected conjugal relationship. Usually 80% will conceive within one year and another 10% will conceive within two years. It is advisable to visit a doctor if no conception achieved within one year,” she says.
Talking about the causes of infertility Dr Majida says, “infertility can be caused by different causes of which about one third is mainly female factors. Another third mainly male factors and in about 20% of cases the cause cannot be identified and we refer to it as unexplained. The rest are usually combined factors”.
Ovulation disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome which characterised by irregular cycles, thyroid disorder (untreated) whether hypo or hyper active disorders is related, premature ovarian failures, that is when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40 years, pituitary gland disorder, uterine and fallopian tubes diseases, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or prolong use of certain drugs are some of the vital medical reasons of infertility found among women. “In men it is usually related to seminal fluid quality and other factors like testicular diseases, congenital defect, undescended testicles, vasectomy, ejaculatory disorder, and hypogonadism; when there is abnormally low level of the male sex hormone (testosterone) due to pituitary gland disorder or chromosomal abnormality. Long term use of anti inflammatory drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption could also lead to infertility,” says Dr Majida. Other lifestyle factors that affect fertility in both men and women are obesity, smoking, environmental and occupational factors like exposure to radioactive materials, certain metals, and stress.
But with the recent advancement there is a lot of hope for couples struggling with infertility. In Muscat, infertility treatment in all modalities is available. “Ovulation induction with and without intrauterine insemination is widely available. Assisted reproduction in the form of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is available in few centres in Muscat since 2002. The success of the treatment usually depends on many factors. The cause of infertility and the age mainly of the female is very significant. Other factors like obesity and other habits will negatively affect success rate, and of course the type of the treatment,” says Dr Majida.
There are also emotional setback usually related to failed treatment more so after IVF treatment. “Treatment is not necessarily successful from the first attempt. Often repeated treatment is needed to achieve pregnancy. Couples should be advised to seek a treatment in a reputable place to get the facts right about the problem and the treatment required,” advises Dr Majida.
Where to go
Muscat Private Hospital
+968 2458 3716
Advanced Fertility and Genetic Centre, Al Khuwair
+968 2448 9647,
+968 2447 8295
Al Bushra Medical Specialty Complex, Al Azaiba
+968 2449 6419,
+968 2449 7789
Al Hakeem Fertility Mother and Child Care Centre, Al Khuwair
+968 2448 8300,
+968 2448 8301