Preparatory Medications and Tests
The other big challenge was the need to have most of my prep and medical care completed in the U.S. in order to simply arrive for the week of my transfer. There were several steps that needed to happen in the U.S., including taking several medications.
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 with 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.
I have heard of other people getting medications through online Canadian pharmacies. But one big challenge is trying to figure out how to navigate the prescriptions and necessary tests here in the U.S. Some fertility clinics may be more willing to help. But this is an area you need to explore before committing to go abroad. You need a support team here in the US.
Getting Sperm Samples into a Foreign Country
The most critical and hair-raising part of the process was getting my sperm samples into Mexico. I was using an anonymous donor through a local sperm bank that refused to FedEx to Mexico. 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 found 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 was very reluctant, refusing to do the paperwork that would release my sperm samples to the courier. I had to get special clearance from the clinic to release my sperm to the private courier.
Once I had clearance from the sperm bank, the Clinic in Mexico tried to obtain a permit. Initially the permit was supposed to take 2-3 weeks to issue. But after 3 weeks I checked in with the clinic 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. I had allowed a lot of time, but now I no longer had 2-3 weeks. So, 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.”
When the tank arrived in Mexico, it was held at customs for a few days while it waited for a permit. But between the clinic and the sperm bank, the permit magically appeared and my sperm was released to the clinic.
A Happy Customer
I ended up pregnant after my first trip to Mexico, so I was definitely a happy customer. There were some challenges I had to face by going to Mexico but in the end they were all worth it to me.
I found the Mexican team I worked with to be slightly less diligent and detail-oriented than I would have liked, but they make up for it in sweetness and genuine care. I had to let go of my lawyer mind that is constantly worrying about details and all the things that could go wrong and simply trust. I hadn’t found any complaints about the clinic in Mexico and my gut told me it was the right choice. So, I kept returning to that knowledge and relaxed into the process.
Before going abroad for IVF, you will need to make sure you have the support of your OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist so that you can arrive very shortly before your procedure.
And, if you are single and using sperm from a sperm clinic, you need to make sure you can get it into that country. Some sperm clinics are very accommodating and others not. (See the Choice Mom E-Guide: All About Sperm, which includes a comparison chart of more than 10 sperm banks, including links to each website. Most of the banks featured do international shipment.)
Overall, the trade-offs were well worth it for me. I spent a mere $7,500 instead of over $40,000.
If I hadn’t gotten pregnant on the first try, my follow-up treatments would have only been $3,500. If you are adventurous, trusting and tenacious, I would definitely recommend exploring the world of Vacation IVF. Do your homework, but be ready to let go of the details and trust that it’s a reputable world that wants to help you get pregnant.