Reproductive and Sexual Healthcare

FACILITIES & INITIATIVES

The UAE has excellent medical facilities for maternity and pediatric care. Couples planning to start a family, expectant mothers and new parents can be rest assured about the prenatal, postnatal and neonatal services available in the country.


RULES & REGULATIONS

Since the UAE is a Muslim country, there are laws addressing reproductive and sexual healthcare for both Emiratis and expatriates.

Sexual Relations

  • Premarital sex is illegal in the UAE. As a result, pregnancy outside wedlock can result in jail and/or deportation.
  • Since 2012, Premarital Screening is mandatory for couples planning to tie the knot in the UAE. Medical tests screen individuals for infectious or sexually transmitted diseases, or genetic conditions like Thalassemia. Pre-marriage vaccinations will be provided if needed. If medical tests show that the couple are in good health, the required certificate will be issued.

Abortion

  • Abortion is a crime. Exceptions are:
    • The pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.
    • There is evidence that the baby will be born with fatal deformities and will not survive.
  • In the event that an abortion has to be performed, the procedure has to be approved by an authorised medical board.
  • Abortions cannot be performed after 120 days of pregnancy.

Oral Contraceptive Pills

  • Oral Contraceptive pills, commonly known as OCPs or birth control pills, are a common method used by women to prevent pregnancy.
  • Oral Contraceptive pills are also prescribed by doctors for other benefits unrelated to pregnancy, such as painful periods, skin issues and hormonal conditions like PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), severe acne and hirsutism.
  • It is illegal for unmarried women to obtain any form of contraception such as birth control pills. However, they can get a prescription to treat other health conditions (as mentioned above).
  • It is recommended to consult a doctor before starting contraceptive pills for the first time, and whenever changing brands. Not all contraceptive pills are suitable for all women.
  • You can bring contraceptive pills from your home country into the UAE. There is no need for the original prescription.
  • Common brands of oral contraceptive pills available for women include Yasmin, Yaz, Belara, Marvelon, Diane, Logynon, Gynera and Cerazette.
  • If you want to check if your OCP brand is available in the UAE, you can look it up on the Department of Health Abu Dhabi‘s website.

Other Methods of Contraception

  • Other contraception options available in the UAE are:
    • Barrier Methods such as diaphragms and condoms
    • Vaginal Ring
    • Hormonal Injections
    • Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs)
    • Vasectomy and
    • Tubal Ligation
  • The emergency contraceptive pill (also known as the morning-after pill) is banned in the UAE because it is considered a form of abortion under Sharia Law.

Infertility

Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding is greatly supported. Many places in Dubai provide special nursing rooms for mothers. In April 2018, the UAE banned the promotion of formula milk as part of a breastfeeding drive.
  • According to Article 31 of the UAE Labour Law, a working woman nursing her baby is entitled to two additional 30-minute breaks every day for 18 months after the birth of her baby. The breaks are part of her working hours and no deduction in wages can be made.

Travelling during Pregnancy

  • The UAE has travel guidelines for pregnant women, with single or multiple pregnancy.
  • Depending on the airline and the stage of pregnancy, women may have to submit a medical certificate. This is a sample Medical Certificate for Etihad Airlines.
  • Airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai and Air Arabia do not accept pregnant women for travel once they have completed 36 or 37 weeks.

Travelling with an Infant or Child

  • If an infant was born premature or with complications, a MEDIF form and medical report must be submitted prior to travel.
  • In the UAE, children below the age of 5 cannot travel alone.
  • Between the ages of 5 and 12, children can travel alone using the “unaccompanied minor” service. Exceptions are Air Arabia and Fly Dubai.
  • Unaccompanied minors are charged adult fares.
  • For more information, check out the websites of individual airlines as well as the government’s travel guidelines for infants and children.

Child Vaccination & Immunization

Further Reading

Abortions at Abu Dhabi hospital rise after clarification of law

New UAE law on medically assisted reproduction ‘to cut costs by 80 per cent’

A Guide to Breastfeeding in Public in Dubai

La Leche League UAE | Breastfeeding Support & Education

Your Guide to Childhood Vaccinations in Dubai

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