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Vacation IVF (Part 2) Getting Sperm Samples into Mexico

When my friends started calling me MacGyver I knew that my situation was getting ridiculous.  From the outset, the liaison and everyone I spoke to about Vacation IVF told me it would be impossible to get my sperm into Mexico.  But I was determined to get my chosen sperm vials from the sperm bank in the Bay Area into Mexico, rather than using an anonymous donor in Mexico. 

“You’ll have to bring your donor, or use one of our donors,” FCC assured me. But finding a sperm donor I could bring with me was easier said than done.  And, I had already decided that if I was going to do this alone I wanted the simplicity of an anonymous donor.  The problem with a Mexican donor from FCC was that although the Mexican clinics will allow you to see adult pictures of the egg donors, they do not allow clients to see pictures of the sperm donors. And, the information provided for each sperm donor is limited to height, weight, eye color and some nominal health information, which coincidentally is exactly the same for each donor.  It consists of a single column of various diseases, all of which are marked “No.”  So for me, I had no other options but to get my own sperm samples into Mexico.  I wasn’t simply going to be told it was impossible.  

The problem was that the sperm bank holding my chosen samples refused to FedEx them to Mexico even though I owned them and was paying to store them.  They would ship to many other countries, but refused to ship to Mexico, claiming that their tanks had been broken open at the border.  I generated many solutions to this problem—I could buy the tank, or, I could use a private courier to transport the sperm in his own tank.  But the sperm bank wouldn’t go for this and initially refused to do the paperwork that would release my sperm samples to the courier.  I had to get special clearance from the clinic’s president to release my sperm to the private courier.  

Once I had clearance from the sperm bank, FCC tried to obtain a permit on their end.  The private courier assured me that he had taken samples across the border many times without any sort of permit.  But FCC disagreed and wanted to apply for a permit from the Mexican officials.  Initially the permit was supposed to take 2-3 weeks to issue.  But after 3 weeks I checked in with FCC only to find out it would be another 2-3 weeks.  And, again 2 weeks later I got another response that it was going to take another 2-3 weeks.  

When making my travel plans to Mexico, FCC recommended a later date that it usually might, in order to allow time to get my sperm samples into Mexico.  So, even though I had allowed roughly 2 months, it was down to the wire with a few weeks before my departure.  

I started to panic and dream up elaborate schemes for getting the sperm vials into the US.  One involved Fedexing the tank to a friend’s house in San Diego.  Another friend and I would fly to San Diego that same day and rent a car to drive across the border into Tijuana with the tank hidden in the car.  My friend assured me, “I’ve been across that border so many times, I can get anything across that border.  I’m as cool as a cucumber crossing over and I’ll get that tank in.” Then we would drive to Ensenada and FedEx the tank to Cancun.  It seemed like an elaborate plan but it was one I had read about on fertility chat rooms by one person who successfully did it. 

I took matters into my own hands and chose a new sperm donor from another sperm bank that ships 50% of its samples abroad.  They assured me they had shipped to Mexico several times and that it would not be a problem.  “We don’t need any special permits.”  This new sperm bank simply asked for a form to be signed by FCC agreeing to accept the sperm and within a few hours my sperm was on its way to Mexico for under $300 in FedEx fees.  

When the tank arrived in Mexico, it was held at customs.  But this sperm bank was experienced dealing with customs and did work for me behind the scenes with FCC.  It as a hair-raising couple of days but between the clinic and the sperm bank, the permit magically appeared and my sperm was released to the clinic.  

The next hurdle was getting medications and tests completed in the US before my arrival into Cancun. The idea is that you complete all the preparatory tests and simply arrive in Mexico for a short number of days for the actual transfer. There were several steps that needed to happen in the US, including taking several medications, doing an estrogen test cycle to ensure that my body would respond to the estrogen and thicken my uterine lining, and getting a scan of my uterus to check for fibroids.  

I did the initial uterine test scan after 10 days of estrogen to make sure my lining would thicken at my Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office because they thought I was moving forward with a frozen egg from their egg bank.  But once they got wind of the fact that I was planning to go abroad for an egg donor, they stopped responding to my questions and eventually actually refused to treat me.  Luckily I had a good relationship to my OB/GYN who agreed to order a hysterosalpingogram, to screen for fibroids and prescribe the estrogen I would need to take for several weeks before arriving in Mexico.  

Then there was on big Lupon shot that I needed to administer in order to inhibit my cycle. Although my OB/Gyn was very helpful, she was a little reluctant to prescribe this drug for me since she really had no experience with the protocol used by FCC.  And, it would have potentially cost a couple hundred dollars through my insurance.  A brilliant idea popped into my head!  I would ask my friend who was in Tulum at that very time, to stop by the clinic and pick up the Lupron prescription for me.  She was flying home the next day via Cancun so it was perfect.  

She’s a bit conservative so she was hesitant at first but eventually agreed to be my mule.  In the end, her timing was tight to the airport, and I didn’t want her to battle going into downtown Cancun unless it was absolutely necessary.  So we arranged an elaborate plan to have a trusted taxi driver of the clinic liaison meet my friend at the airport for the exchange of Lupron for cash.  The email strings got pretty hilarious as we arranged for the “drop.”  But my friend was a great sport and brought the Lupron with her in her checked luggage.   

I have since heard of other people getting medications through online Canadian pharmacies with prescriptions written by the foreign IVF clinic. I don’t know the legality of this and didn’t have time to figure out this process in time. Some fertility clinics may be more willing to help.  But this is an area you need to explore before committing to go abroad.  The bottom line is that you will need to make sure your doctor and your sperm bank, if you are using one are cooperative.

© Choice Mama Baby Project 2013