My story starts 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 and low AMH. All the same, I was determined to try with my own eggs, even though from the outset the Reproductive Endocrinologist told me I’d be better off with donor eggs. I tried for a year to get pregnant using donor sperm via IUIs. Then I upped the ante and tried a few cycles with Clomid that were even less successful. It was time to move to donor egg IVF.
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. So, I immediately started pursuing my options: frozen egg banks, embryo donation, US reproductive clinics or going abroad. Within a few minutes, after a simple Google search, I stumbled upon the world of “Vacation IVF.” There were numerous sites and offers in every imaginable country.
For me, it was easy to narrow down the potential countries because I was very clear that I only wanted to go to a country that would allow let me see pictures of the egg donor. I quickly learned that the only countries that would allow you to see pictures of the egg donors were Mexico, Panama, South Africa, and the Ukraine. 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 (www.IVFtraveler.com) 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 all over the place. 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 Czech 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. I have a friend who owns a hotel 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.
The minute I watched a video about Fertility Center Cancun (FCC), I felt calmed!
And note that Sarah is starting a Choice Mom coaching business, related to her own fertility struggles and the search for an egg donor. You can learn more here.