SHAH ALAM: Infertility, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months without contraception. It is also the inability to maintain a pregnancy or inability to carry a pregnancy until a live birth.
In developing countries, this is faced by one in six couples and the most popular treatment for infertility is IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
IVF is a process of fertilisation in which sperm and eggs (ovum) are combined in a laboratory dish and fertilised before the embryo is transferred into the uterus.
About five million babies around the world have been born through this method since the first ‘test tube’ baby was born in 1978.
Since then, IVF treatment has given couples a second chance at conceiving.
However, not all couples can afford to attempt IVF more than once. Moreover, young couples who plan to start a family may not have enough financial resources to try the IVF. Hence, the young couple have to save up to undergo IVF much later in life.
REAL LIFE STORIES
Hambali Muhammmed, 43, and wife Nur Qistina Ibrahim, 44, have invested a lot of money and time to have their own baby.
For Nur Qistina, having a baby is worth giving up all her material possessions for.
“After our third IVF treatment, we finally succeeded. Though we’ve sacrificed a lot, I feel grateful to be able to watch our only child Amna grow up in front of my eyes,” said the mother of Nur Ilya Amna, 4, who was born nine years after their marriage.
According to Dr Norazlin Rosli, an Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist from the Kasih Fertility Specialist Clinic, cost is a factor preventing couples from trying IVF. Charges at private medical centres and clinics range between RM18,000 and RM20,000 per treatment.
Meanwhile, government hospitals charge between RM5,000 and RM10,000, but the waiting list is long. Some may have to wait up to a year for their first attempt.
“The cost can’t be avoided because of the content of the injected medication. This also includes cost of equipment at the labs as well as the freezing of the eggs.
“We also find that most of the couples who come for IVF are aged 35 and above as they are more mature and financially stable,” explained Dr Norazlin.
Though they may be able to afford the treatment when they are much older, she said there might be other issues such as the decline in the egg quality.
Many, even women themselves, do not understand that the number of eggs will also decrease with age, making the fertilisation process difficult.
The advancing age factor also brings complications during pregnancy such as hypertension, preterm baby and others.
“This is why we encourage young couples who have been married for over a year to undergo fertility treatment to ensure quality eggs,” she said.
IVFKASIH AT MINIMUM COST
The IVFKasih programme at the Kasih Fertility Specialist Centre with Sunfert@Bangsar South (Sunfert) aims to help more married couples who have difficulty in conceiving get pregnant at an earlier age.
The programme will be officiated by Tunku Azizah Fertility Foundation (TAFF) lifetime chairman Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah on Dec 1.
It is a low-cost IVF programme that uses a unique and innovative approach to reduce cost without affecting the pregnancy rate.
According to Dr Norazlin, it is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative by Sunfert for the people.
IVFKasih treatment package covers from the start of the IVF procedure to the day of pregnancy testing, laboratory costs for ICSI, Laser Assisted Hatching and Blastocyst Culture if needed.
IVFKasih uses a lab in Sunfert@Bangsar South which has a team of qualified and dedicated fertility specialists, counselors and embryologists in this CSR undertaking.
LESS AGRESSIVE STIMULATION
This fertility treatment might be a bit different from the usual as IVFKasih uses a less aggressive stimulation method, said Dr Norazlin. This reduces the number of injections required and pills are used to stimulate the hormone.
“This way is more natural and will obtain eggs of better quality. Reduced injections will save medical costs.
“The uterus will also be more receptive towards the embryo implantation. The mother-to-be will also feel more comfortable through this programme compared with regular IVF because side effects like ovarian hyperstimulation can be reduced,” she explained further.
The IVFKasih programme takes about 12 to 16 days including four clinic visits. The pregnancy rate is 36 percent for women with a low ovarian reserve (number of eggs in the ovary) and over 40 percent for women with a normal ovarian reserve.
“This situation rarely happens but it can with premature ovulation or low quality eggs.
“Sometimes the eggs cannot be fertilised or flourish because of the low quality of the egg or sperm. But, from our experience, more than 90 percent of couples will have at least one embryo for transfer because the quality of the egg is usually good when less aggressive stimulation is used,” Dr Norazlin assured.
IVFKasih is open to all as it hopes to bring a revolution to fertility treatment in Malaysia by making it more accessible and affordable to all levels of society.
Couples interested in the treatment can visit www.ivfkasih.com for more information or call 03-55113211.