Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, have done IUI and are considering IVF, or have had previous unsuccessful IVF cycles; you know firsthand that fertility can be stressful. Adding to that stress can often be making the time to see the doctor, be monitored and for the egg retrieval and embryo transfer itself. In November 2018, an article in MetroUK highlighted just how difficult it can be to balance work and infertility, especially when so many use their vacation days towards managing their fertility treatment timeline. This is why we’re making it our goal in 2019 to raise more awareness around a real and viable option that could not only help manage your stress and time but could give you the pregnancy you’ve been working so hard for. That option is IVF Abroad.
How does one determine a fertility treatment timeline?
Depending on your specific history, we will either review any previous testing of both partners or if it is the beginning of your fertility journey, we will start with basic testing to gain insight into your reproductive health and any potential concerns we can address (PCOS, endometriosis, sperm concern, etc.). We will then determine if there are any additional tests that may need to be done. If you have gone through IVF previously, we would review the protocol used, the results (how many eggs were retrieved, how many embryos were produced, etc.) and see what could be done differently to best improve your chances for the next cycle.
Overall, for every single patient who comes to our clinic, we design a specific fertility treatment timeline and plan of action to best achieve a pregnancy for that patient.
How is the fertility treatment timeline different when it’s abroad?
In general, after diagnostic testing is done, fertility treatment timelines are approximately four weeks from start to finish depending on what exactly is being recommended. However, if you’re doing IVF abroad with our clinic, you will most likely be in Barbados for approximately 14 days. Essentially, the only thing different about your timeline is that you’ll be in a different location for 14 days out of your cycle. If you visit our Patient Journey page, we have several videos to walk you through every stage of how this timeline would work. We make every effort to make these two weeks as comfortable and seamless as possible.
How do I coordinate IVF abroad?
One of our intentions is that patients use their vacation time for some actual rest and relaxation. This is why we have several travel packages to choose from and a Patient Liaison Coordinator who will book everything from flights, to taxis, to hotels and will even help secure a local cell phone while you are here with us. We also have a wellness spa with treatment that can fit nicely into your fertility treatment timeline and activities around town should you want to check those out while here. We want your sole focus to be on decompressing and being in the best mindset for your IVF abroad.
Why consider IVF abroad?
It’s a question that gets asked often. Barbados Fertility is genuinely a top-notch, safe and well-respected clinic. So many are sacrificing their vacation time staying at home for either their two week waits or to manage their treatment without it impacting their jobs. What we are offering is an excellent clinic that will provide you the highest level of reproductive care, an opportunity to decompress after dealing with the emotional strain of infertility, some amazing photos to show friends and family when you return, and should all go according to plan, the family you’ve been dreaming of!
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.Learn More
Due to the nature of our business, there are huge personal stories behind each pregnancy test and birth announcement but they are normally kept private between us and our patients. Country Music’s star couple Rose Falcon and Rodney Atkins are one of the few patients of ours who publicly announced that they visited us for successful IVF treatment. Rose Falcon announced to the world that she suffered from Infertility in this incredible Instagram post and that she came to BFC for IVF treatment. Rose has now started a Blog where she is discussing her Journey to Barbados for IVF treatment called ‘Momma on the Road’.
“I promised myself that if I was able to overcome infertility, I would share my story in hopes of helping someone else going through a similar situation. In Nashville, there just aren’t that many options, and our experience in seeking treatment left us thinking there had to be a better way than being subjected to what felt like a ‘cattle call.’”
“Our local fertility clinic was always packed. We would wait for up to two hours with our knees basically touching another couple in a tiny waiting area. We weren’t given any insight into our fertility issues, just a vague diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility.’ We went through three failed IUI’s over the course of a year. The day we went in to talk to the doctor about what our next option would be, we waited for over two hours. When we finally met with the doctor he basically handed us folder with some information about IVF and sent us packing. Looking over the paperwork, we were faced with average success rates and a high cost. It was enormously discouraging. It just seemed like they didn’t truly care about the struggle we were facing,” explains Rose. “I knew there had to be a better option. I started Googling every fertility clinic in the US, and then I started looking into what could contribute to a better chance of success. I learned that acupuncture and other holistic treatments have been shown to increase success rates in IVF treatment, but I couldn’t find a place in the United States that had everything under one roof. That’s when I started researching IVF clinics abroad and found Barbados Fertility Center through a blog called Always Katie.”
The idea seemed kind of crazy at first Rose admits, but from the very first phone call with the clinic, Rose knew she was on to something. “The entire experience at Barbados Fertility Center just felt so different. I felt heard and cared about and so much more hopeful about the possibility that we could find success. I thought that things might change after that first interaction, but Barbados Fertility Center was absolutely consistent throughout the process. They were enormously helpful, kind, and considerate.”
Rose and Rodney welcomed Ryder Falcon Atkins on December 14th of 2017. When asked if she would go back to Barbados Fertility Center again, she says “Without question! For the cost of just IVF in the US, you get an entire two week vacation in addition to the treatment. We fell in love with Barbados when we were there and cannot imagine having gone any other place for the treatment that led to the birth of our beautiful baby boy.”
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): an infertility issue that is little understood.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the primary causes of a woman’s infertility. Between the age of 20 to 40, PCOS affects somewhere between 5% to 10% of women. This makes it the most widespread reproductive syndrome for this age group of women.
Since PCOS cannot be diagnosed with one test alone and symptoms vary from patient to patient, PCOS is known as the ‘Silent Killer’ and can result in misdiagnosis, with 30% of women never being diagnosed.
What Exactly is PCOS?
PCOS is a complex, heterogeneous disorder of uncertain etiology, although recurrence in the same family is often observed supporting a genetic origin.
According to the so-called Rotterdam criteria, a woman with any two of the following conditions may have the condition:
■ Symptoms of elevated levels of androgens, or male sex hormones, which can include acne, excessive hair and sometimes male-pattern hair loss.
■ Irregular menses, with prolonged periods between cycles.
■ Polycystic ovaries, as seen on an ultrasound.
Regrettably, PCOS is one of those reproductive syndromes that often goes undiagnosed.
Early diagnosis of PCOS is important to avoid long term complications such as increased risk for developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and endometrial cancer.
Treatment of PCOS
Patients with PCOS who don’t wish to conceive.
Patients with PCOS who don’t want to conceive should be treated to control immediate symptoms and to avoid long term complications.
Consuming a healthy diet and regular exercise, controlling weight, glucose and insulin levels is effective and recommended as first approach.
In many cases, birth control is prescribed in order to decrease hormone levels, normalize the menstrual cycle and minimize acne appearances.
Due to the fact that insulin-resistance is common in women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, medications such as metformin are typically prescribed as well affecting how insulin controls glucose and reducing testosterone.
Metformin improves menstrual cycling, slows hair growth, reduces body mass, reduces cholesterol levels and improves ovulation induction response. Surgery called ovarian drilling is one option for PCOS, although it is only recommended as a last resort and in most of the cases the effects are only temporary.
PCOS and Infertility – Patients with PCOS who are trying to conceive.
More than 95% of women with PCOS do not ovulate regularly, have irregular menstrual cycles and struggle to conceive naturally. With Inanovulatory cycles, the ovarian follicles fail to mature and release eggs. Treatment to promote the recruitment and release of the egg is required (ovulation induction).
PCOS requires management to conceive in most of the cases. Optimal management means we rule out coexisting causes i.e. tubal assessment and semen analysis, ovulation induction strategies are closely monitored on a time line.
Ovulation induction programs are very successful in PCOS:
* 80% of patients achieve the goal of follicular development and egg maturation with oral agents such as clomid.
* 15 % of patients needs injectable agents
* Only 5% of PCOS cases need IVF, and are usually successful!
Reach out to us if you need to discuss IVF help if you suffer from PCOS.
– Dr Corona
To learn more simply complete the form below and a copy of the presentation will be emailed to you to watch in the comfort and privacy of your own home:
‘Monitoring’ is a general name for the activities of ultrasound and/or bloodwork testing, to evaluate how a woman is responding to her stimulation treatment. The results of the ultrasound and/or bloodwork are reviewed by the physician, and further instructions for continued treatment are shared by the patient’s nurse.
This is a general explanation of the routine IVF monitoring which all patients undergo during their cycle. But it is not so simple. Often we receive questions like: “what is the best monitoring?”, “should it be done daily?”, “how many scans are needed?”, “Is blood test always necessary”, and many, many, many more!
With this blog I am going to try answering to some of these questions in a very simple way.
Let’s go step by step.
Methods of monitoring
There are basically 2 tools available for monitoring: ultrasound and blood test.
The ultrasound technique used mostly is the 2D trans-vaginal scan. 3D technology can sometimes be added as well as power color Doppler to evaluate vascularization. Trans-abdominal ultrasound (TVUS) is used less but it can be necessary in some cases i.e. when the ovaries are very high in the abdomen.
Hormonal blood testing includes E2 (Estradiol) levels, P (progesterone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). The E2 is produced inside the developing follicle. The blood E2 level helps to the correlate growth of the follicle with maturation of the egg. The blood LH level indicates when a woman is about to ovulate. This helps with the timing of ‘timed intercourse’ and IUI treatment cycles, it is not used in IVF cycles. Progesterone normally rises in serum after ovulation and trigger endometrial maturation necessary for implantation (uterine receptivity). Testing progesterone can be therefore very useful for instance when a premature ovulation of one of the follicles is suspected or in a long stimulation with risk of premature LH surge.
Combining the methods of monitoring
We have established what are the methods available but how shall we use them? Let`s use science and evidence based medicine to help us answer this.
The first controversial question that we tried to answer was whether TVUS and E2 should be combined. Several studies were done and results showed that E2 measurements are unnecessary, time consuming, expensive, create anxiety for the couple and are inconvenient for the women (Rainhorn 1987; howard 1988; Tan 1992). Minimal monitoring (only as less as possible TVUS) showed to have no adverse effect on treatment outcomes and it does not increase the risk of OHSS (Abdalla 1989; Tan 1994; Roest 1995). Based on these results, several IVF programs have abandoned the use of hormonal essay completely without recording any significant change in their outcomes (Kemeter 1989; Vlaisavljevic 1992; Tan 1994).
Many more studies have been conducted after these, investigating different specific outcome of the stimulation cycle like number of oocytes, clinical pregnancy rate and OHSS rate. A study done in 2014 (Gynecol Endocrinol. 2014 Sep;30(9):649-52) clearly showed that adding serum estradiol measurements to ultrasound monitoring does not change the yield of mature oocytes in IVF/ICSI.
Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers and professionals formed to organize medical research findings collecting only high-quality independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. In 2008 and then updated in 2014, Cochrane published a systematic review collecting and analyzing together the most reliable and relevant articles on this topic conducted in the UK, France, Spain, Israel and the US with the following results: “This review update found no evidence from randomised trials to suggest that combined monitoring by TVUS and serum estradiol is more efficacious than monitoring by TVUS alone with regard to clinical pregnancy rates and the incidence of OHSS. The number of oocytes retrieved appeared similar for both monitoring protocols. The data suggest that both these monitoring methods are safe and reliable”.
So, what is the best monitoring?
I think the answer to this is personalized monitoring.
We at BFC do not have a “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan for IVF and therefore we do not have inflexible monitoring protocols. We strongly believe in evidence based medicine so we do not practice standard daily combined TVUS and blood test as there is no clinical reason why this would increase your chances of success, nevertheless we know every woman who undergoes IVF treatment is unique. Each couple presenting to an IVF clinic has an individual infertility cause and medical and fertility history. It is essential to customize a unique therapeutic scheme for each couple, offering the opportunity to be flexible during ovarian stimulation. During treatment, your personal physician is monitoring your results, constantly communicating with you and the team about the next best step for your treatment, like asking for an extra ultrasound or blood test, adjusting your medication dosage for your optimal response, and determining the best day for your egg retrieval, taking always into account your personal history.
This is a prerequisite, for achieving the best outcome and defines the success or failure of an IVF treatment cycle.
– Dr Corona