Dr. Somjate “Aek” Manipalviratn, from Bangkok’s Jetanin Institute, speaks with Prestige about how IVF helps parents start families when the time is right.
For the last 13 years, Dr. Aek has been practicing at the Jetanin Institute for Assisted Reproduction in Bangkok, where he also serves as the medical director. Not only is he a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, but also a highly-skilled obstetrician and gynecologist. Prestige Petite sits down with the doctor to better understand IVF, and find out more about achieving a successful pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.
What made you specialise in IVF?
First of all, I would say it is a beautiful job, compared to other paths in medicine. When talking about medicine we usually think about diseases with outcomes that aren’t always favourable. But in my line of work, we’re talking about creating a new life. You become a part of the patient’s life and plans to build a family, and it’s a remarkable journey. When I’m able to see those children grow up – as I keep in contact with the families I help, especially via social media – it is so rewarding.
Why are people choosing IVF?
Well today, there is a trend towards delayed childbearing, because women are getting married a bit later in life. Getting married over 35 is more common now, but when women pass the age of 35, their fertility is at a point of decline, and many career ladies face fertility challenges because of that.
When ladies get pregnant later in life, they are usually in a rush, especially if they intend to have more than one child before 40. So, instead of spending a few years naturally trying to conceive, they decide to come to us to seek help.
With older mothers, there are concerns about babies having abnormalities, so for that reason they come to the doctor for options to minimise that risk. Conditions very common in Thailand include Thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, Down’s syndrome, and so on. Some people are carriers, and they can give birth to babies that have life-long problems. For those who know they have these conditions, they come in for IVF where they can also screen for embryos that don’t have a suspected gene problem.
For whom do you recommend IVF treatments?
IVF, in the old days, was for those who had problems conceiving – problems with their eggs, sperm, or fallopian tubes. That is what happened in the past, but now there is a shift in the paradigm. Sometimes it’s not about fertility problems, but just the fact that the patient doesn’t want to get pregnant straight away, so they come in to freeze their eggs to save them for later. In terms of science, any cells, once frozen, can be kept indefinitely, and that includes eggs, sperm, and embryos.
What’s the maximum age limit for receiving treatment?
The oldest woman I have helped was 49. There is no definite guideline on age limit but for me personally, I would not recommend a woman to get pregnant after 50. I ask my patients to imagine taking care ofyour child until your 80, and I encourage them to look to the future and to be realistic about what kind of life they want. But in terms of the technology, it’s possible to have children very late. But it’s more of an ethical concern. We don’t want to bring in babies whose parents won’t live long, as we don’t want them to be without a mother or a father. There’s a lot to consider.
Why do so many Thai families come to you?
We [the clinic] have been doing what we do for 25 years, and people want to receive fertility treatment from those they know they can trust. Our team of nine doctors can do just that.
What was the proudest moment for you as a doctor?
There are proud moments every day. My job is done, not when the woman gets pregnant, but when I deliver a healthy baby. I help deliver a baby once a day usually, and I have delivered 1,000 babies since I started. My life is very fulfilling.
To find out more, visit jetanin.com.