Vacation Fertility Treaments

Vacation IVF (PART 1) 

I shut my computer screen and took a deep breath.  After months of stress, I finally had a sense of calm.  I had just watched a video of the doctor at a fertility clinic in Cancun, Mexico being interviewed.  His name was Dr. Gaytan from Fertility Center Cancun (FCC).  While it was obvious that the video was staged by a woman who acts as a liaison to bring people to the clinic, it didn't matter.  The sweetness of Dr. Gaytan radiated through the video.  I could immediately feel that his heart was still in the right place—he truly wants to help women get pregnant.  

I’m not naïve to think that the money isn’t a lure for this Mexican doctor who caters to foreigners and very wealthy Mexican nationals.   But in contrast to the fertility doctors I had been working with in the California, he seemed like the sweetest man on the planet.  My experience at a high-end reproductive clinic in California had been fraught with issues, the worst of which was receiving someone else’s positive pregnancy results and the Clinic throwing up their hands, claiming innocence and refusing to apologize for fear of admitting liability!   From the outset, the Clinic tried to act like they cared but in actuality, I found that they turned me into a number and applied the “protocol” refusing to listen to me when I had ideas and insights into my own body.  They made mistake after mistake, and yet when I became a squeaky wheel and started complaining, they fired me as a client! I was outraged when I got the letter stating that they would no longer provide me services.  

So, when I came across FCC and Dr. Gaytan, I immediately shot off an email and was contacted within 24 hours by a liaison person for the clinic.  I filled out a short form and sent in my medical records so that I could start viewing egg donor profiles.  Within 3 months I was on a plane returning home from Mexico with an embryo implanted and embarking upon the “2-week wait” to find out if I was pregnant 

My actions may seem rash, but they were anything but.  My story begins like many.  I started trying to decide whether to become a single mother in my late 30’s.  By the time, I finally took the plunge I was 41-years old and already facing very high FSH (which you want to be low since higher levels indicate that you are working very hard to ovulate) and abysmally low AMH (a newer, more accurate test that measures levels inside the ovary and indicates the quality and quantity of your eggs. A higher number indicates healthy ovaries and eggs).  

From the outset the Reproductive Endocrinologist in the US told me I’d be better off with donor eggs. But I wasn't willing to accept this fate and was determined to try with my own eggs before giving up, even though I was barely ovulating and had numbers consistent with menopause.  Thus began an incredibly stressful year in which I tried every form of alternative medicine to improve my fertility.   I attempted about 5-6 IUI’s with anonymous donor sperm in months when all the signals I was tracking indicated I might be ovulating.  When that wasn’t successful, I upped the ante and tried a few cycles, one with Clomid and another with Letrozole, drugs that hyper-stimulate your ovaries to increase chances of conception.  Instead, I did not ovulate, gained 15 pounds in a matter of weeks and developed cysts on my ovaries.  With this devastation, I finally accepted that it was time to move to an egg donor. 

Because I’m fantastic at research, (possibly a remnant of my lawyer days) I started researching my options.  Very quickly, I realized that pursuing an egg donor in the US would be outrageously expensive—at least $40K but possibly as much as $60K.  So, I immediately started pursuing my options: frozen egg banks, embryo donation, egg sharing, US reproductive clinics or going abroad.  Thanks to Google, I quickly stumbled upon the world of “Vacation IVF” and was bombarded with numerous offers in every imaginable country. 

The multitude of countries and options could have been overwhelming, but I easily narrowed down the potential countries.  I was very clear that I only wanted to go to a country that would allow let me see pictures of the egg donor.  Within a few hours of poking around on the web, I learned that the only countries that would allow you to see pictures of the egg donors were Mexico, Panama, South Africa, and the Ukraine (though someone recently told me that Turkey may also show pictures).  

However, if I’d been simply pursuing IVF abroad, that would have left almost every country under the sun.  There are services available to help you narrow down the playing field.  I found a woman, named Sue Taylor ( who charges a flat rate to consult with you about your priorities.  Then she provides you with a report about which countries meet your criteria and advises about the reputation of the various clinics. I believe she also does embryo matching. 

Once I had my country list, I started looking at the clinics in the various countries.  I was pretty clear that if I found a donor that stood out amongst others, I would go to that clinic. I immediately felt unsettled by the pictures of the donor’s in the Ukraine so instinctually I ruled that out and focused my search on South Africa and Mexico.  

I spent some time researching South Africa and the clinics there. They have a different system of keeping the egg donor banks separate from the IVF clinic.  It seemed a little bit harder to navigate.  But again, there were people offering services to assist me.  Vacation IVF is a huge part of medical tourism and there are people there to help you navigate at every turn.  One woman works with Czech clinic because she is a Czech national living in the US who went to the Czech Republic for IVF when she couldn’t conceive in the US.  She noticed a potential market helping people go to the Czech Republic for IVF.  She now acts a US liaison with the Czech clinic and doctors while you are setting up services from the US.  When you arrive in the Czech Republic, her sister meets you at the airport, provides transportation and acts as your interpreter at the doctor’s office.  

The choice to go to Cancun, Mexico was pretty clear for me after viewing the video of Dr. Gaytan.  But this gut decision was strengthened since I have a friend who owns a hotel named Zamas, in Tulum (90 minutes from Cancun), who was willing to host me for the journey.  I knew I loved this part of the world and felt comfortable and safe there.  Plus, I’d have a familiar place to stay in a lovely quaint hotel with a friend.  

I also discovered another clinic in Cancun, called IREGA.  They were incredibly responsive and wonderful to deal with as well.  To cross check my gut reaction, I scoured chat rooms for information and experiences with both clinics.  As far as I could tell, everyone who had gone to these clinics had a wonderful experience.  No one had anything negative to say.  I could have asked Sue Taylor her opinion of the various clinics in Mexico, but since my intuition was giving me a green light I didn’t take the extra step.  IREGA had slightly better pricing options, but I found a fabulous donor at FCC, so I went with my initial excitement about FCC and Dr. Gaytan. 

© Choice Mama Baby Project 2013