Unmarried men, women in UAE seek to freeze egg, sperm
There are many serious cases to be considered for fertility preservation, including cancer
Abu Dhabi - 15 unmarried women and men received fertility preserving treatment in the past three months alone.
The number of unmarried women and men seeking to preserve their fertility is growing in the UAE, claim doctors and reproductive specialists.
Dr Elsamawal El Hakim, consultant Reproductive Medicine and IVF, HealthPlus Fertility Centre, in Abu Dhabi - United Eastern Medical Services, told Khaleej Times that 15 unmarried women and men received fertility preserving treatment in the past three months alone.
He said the taboo-nature of preserving an unmarried woman's eggs or a man's semen has diminished, as awareness on health increased.
"There is an increase in awareness for both patients and people in the health care sector, and now there is clear access for men and women, whether married or not, to preserve their fertility."
Dr El Hakim said cancer patients in particular are looking out for their future and choosing to go ahead with the fertility treatments, prior to undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, which could drastically affect their chances of conceiving later in life.
"There are many serious cases to be considered for fertility preservation, including cancer."
"Other medical conditions such arthritis, systemic lupus disease, sickle cell and thalassemia, are also crucial."
He said that during the past two years, doctors have noticed many young people who required medical intervention to preserve their eggs and sperms as a preventive measure due to their need to undergo treatments that may lead to the destruction of cells producing eggs and sperms.
But it is not just those suffering from deadly illnesses that are turning to fertility preservation in the UAE, as career-driven residents are now also looking ahead at how they can balance their passion for work, while securing their chances at having a family in the future.
"Sometimes people delay their marriage for career reasons or not finding the right person, and in women this has a great effect on egg numbers."
He highlighted that there were 12 single women and three single men out of the total cases in the past three months, adding that the eggs in some cases are collected from unmarried women, using advanced techniques by laparoscopy when necessary.
Such cases for single women required prior approval by the relevant health authorities. Dr El Hakim said the cases were approved by the Ministry of Health.
"We have not received any rejections," he added.
Dr El Hakim said the samples are preserved through an accurate electronic system, under a temperature of up to 194 degrees below zero, using liquid nitrogen gas. They are preserved for five years, then renewed.
Majd Abu Zant, Chief Operating Officer, United Eastern Medical Services and CEO of HealthPlus Network of Specialty Centres, said the centre performs thousands of treatments each year, with a success rate of more than 45.2 per cent.
"The centre performs more than 2,670 infertility treatment sessions annually, and samples of eggs or sperms for more than 3,000 patients are currently preserved."
Recent fertility preservation cases
A single Arab-26-year old woman had 12 of her eggs preserved. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and was referred by her oncologist to have her eggs preserved prior to chemotherapy.
Another young man - diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 29 - also chose to freeze his semen, which Dr El Hakim, said that it "takes only a few minutes."
Two samples of the cancer patient were preserved, with 20 million sperms in each sample.
"An Emirati woman in her 30s went abroad to focus on her career. During her screening, we informed her that her eggs were declining, and she decided to freeze her eggs."
As many as 16 eggs have been preserved for the Emirati career-driver.
A 41-year-old Sudanese woman who had a delayed marriage also found that she was at risk of conceiving and went ahead with egg freezing.
"The treatment usually takes 10-12 days for women," Dr El Hakim added.
5 major medical conditions that demand preservation
Did you know?
- Systemic lupus disease
- Cickle cell
3,000 patients have currently preserved their eggs and sperms at the Abu Dhabi hospital
12 single women and three single men approached the centre in the past three months