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Fertility Journeys

Meet IVF Spain’s second couple Alka and Rhod

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IVF Spain Couple

Every year, thanks to our participation in this wonderful initiative created by Fertility Road Magazine, we selected two couples to help them fulfil their dream of becoming parents.

At IVF Spain we welcome the opportunity to work again with Fertility Road and we love to have the chance to be a part of it year after year. Our first couple of 2017 were Kathryn Hobbs and Richard Clemens, who have already started their treatment and we will share their news with you from their journey.

We are pleased to announce our second selected couple from Fertility Road Magazine 2017: Alka and Rhod.

Each year all the applications we receive describe their own personal, emotive and moving stories. We would like to help everyone who applied and this makes the task of choosing which couple to work with even more difficult.

We immediately connected with Alka and Rhod’s story and as medical professionals, we had no doubts that we could help them complete their journey and fulfil their dreams of becoming parents for the second time.

This adorable couple’s story is admirable as despite all the obstacles, hardships and setbacks they faced they never lost sight of their dream of becoming parents again.

At IVF Spain, we are conscious of the emotional stress that a failed fertility treatment can have. During fertility treatment, we take care of every little detail, offering individualised care and personalising every aspect of the treatment to maximise chances of success.

Alka and Rhod had gone through 3 failed fertility treatments in the UK but their 4th round of fertility treatment was successful and they became parents for the first time. After having their first child they decided that they would like to be parents again. After trying unsuccessfully to conceive naturally for 3 years they decided to try IVF again. The cycles failed except for one which unfortunately ended in the loss of the child due to medical complications.

Having gone through so many failed fertility treatments in the UK they decided that egg donation would be a better option to help improve their chances of success and avoid the emotional and psychological pain of yet another failed attempt.

During their first visit to IVF Spain, they explained their situation to Dr Alicia Álvarez. After reviewing their medical history we are able to Alka and Rhod a personalised solution that is completely adapted to their specific needs and held the highest chance of success.

Dr Álvarez performed several tests on the couple which would help her develop the best possible strategy for them to conceive. She also analysed Alkakumari’s ovarian reserve (based both on her AMH levels and the ecographic image of her ovaries), which proved to be very low. She also looked at her egg’s viability but the results showed they were poor quality. Other analysis revealed that Alka’s endometrial thickness was negligible.

After discussing this with the couple Dr Álvarez recommended an egg donation treatment as the optimal and most adequate treatment option to achieve the long-desired pregnancy.

“I don’t understand why after so many failed IVF treatments they (the fertility specialists) didn’t change their approach or try to offer an alternative to this couple when even they admitted to being tired of repeating the same treatment with identical results. They also complained that the only options offered to them in the UK were a treatment with Alkakumari’s own eggs, (which according to the test results was the least advisable option), or an egg donation treatment with a minimum waiting list of 2 years in order to find a similar phenotype to hers.

Fortunately, IVF Spain counts on a vast egg bank of more than 500 donors that covers practically all phenotypes, therefore we have been able to offer Alkakumari and Rhodri a treatment adapted to their needs and with the maximum chance of success”.

After their consultation with Dr Álvarez we interviewed Alka and Rhod and asked them how they have been coping with their struggle to extend their family and what led them to apply to be part of Fertility Road Magazine’s Fertility Journey this year:

Why did you decide to travel abroad for treatment?

Over our 8-year fertility journey, and with repeated failure of IVF cycles, we wanted to investigate all options to complete our family. The waiting list for some services such as egg donation is very long in the UK, and even longer find a donor of Indian ethnicity.

So we broadened our search to include clinics outside of the UK to investigate all the options available to us.

How did you find IVF Spain?

There are so many fertility clinics worldwide and it can be overwhelming to begin to research them. We looked at websites that specialised in giving information about fertility clinics abroad. We narrowed it down to clinics that offered a wide range of services and looked at the statistics for that clinic. We then narrowed it down to the country that we wanted to travel to, based on ease of travel, and weighed up the options based on how much we liked the clinic.

With such a wide range of clinics and treatment options at your disposal, what made you put your hopes of becoming parents in IVF Spain?

IVF Spain offers a wide range of services and treatment options. The statistics of success for the clinic are great, and the patient testimonials are excellent. Everyone mentioned what a calm and relaxing atmosphere you encounter at IVF Spain. The whole fertility journey is so stressful, and it is comforting to find a clinic where you feel your anxieties being reduced from the minute you walk in and where you feel you are treated as an individual and not a patient number or statistic.

What are your fears and concerns of travelling abroad to start a family?

It is very daunting to start a new cycle of IVF, let alone go to a new clinic and especially one in a different country. You hope that the standard of health care will be equal to or even better than the country you reside in. There are fears about the language barrier and whether travelling to another country will be easy, or whether it will just add to the stress of the cycle.

What advice can you offer to couples in a similar situation to yours?

Travelling abroad for treatment was much easier than we thought. Consider where you are in your fertility journey and consider all your options, in your own country and also abroad.

How was this last year?

Every IVF cycle failure is hard, and when our 6th cycle of IVF failed, due to poor ovarian response, we knew our chances of success were limited.

There has been such heartache in our fertility journey, and it was hard to know if we should proceed and at a loss to know how to proceed. Our fertility clinic in the UK mentioned the idea of egg donation, but we were also informed of the 2-year waiting list for egg donors at the clinic and possibly longer if we wanted an egg donor of Indian ethnicity. We researched the options and decided to get more information about egg donation abroad where the waiting times were shorter and my physical characteristics could be more closely matched.

What did IVF Spain offer that clinics in the UK didn’t?

I would recommend IVF Spain. The range of services they offer is excellent and the emphasis they place on making you feel at ease, in control and calm during the treatment process is wonderful. They are also open to holistic treatments to aid the IVF process, which was not a big part of the treatment process in the clinics we attended in the UK.

How was your first visit to the clinic?

The first visit to IVF Spain was great. As soon as you enter the clinic, the calm, tranquil environment soothes your nerves and takes some of your stress away. All of the staff is very welcoming and speaks amazing English, amongst other languages. Every part of the process is explained in detail, which makes you feel in control. The consultation with Dr Alvarez was brilliant. She explained the process in great detail and in a way you can understand and her very human approach made you feel instantly at ease. The emphasis the clinic puts on achieving good quality embryos was fantastic. I was very impressed with the clinic and looking forward to starting our treatment.

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Complementary Therapies

How to Rock Your Fertility Journey, Even if You’re Over 40

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Rick Your Fertility

This past weekend my son Charlie turned 5 years old.

I’ll be 49 in April.  You can do the math.

Charlie was conceived a month before my 43rd birthday, after a roller-coaster ride of miscarriage, doctors visits, testing, lots of negative pregnancy tests, and an emotional maelstrom during which I cursed myself for not trying to have a baby when I was younger.   

My doctor never said the words, “you’re too old” but it was implied when he explained that I didn’t have many eggs left because I was over 40.  When he said that the eggs that I did have were of “compromised quality” and that’s probably what led to my miscarriages. When he predicted that it was highly unlikely that I’d get pregnant with my own eggs and that donor egg IVF was my best chance of having a baby.

Conventional wisdom drives the doctor’s analysis and you’ve heard all this:  women are born with all the eggs that we’ll ever have and through 30+ years of having periods, as well as the natural aging process, cause our fertility to begin to decline in our early 30s, and take a big dive after age 35.  By the time we’re over 40, our fertility has practically fallen off a cliff. By the time we hit menopause, we may not have run out of eggs but the supply is scant and we’re no longer ovulating.

My test results bore this out.  My Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) was high at 16.4, indicating that my ovaries had to work harder to stimulate follicle growth (and egg maturation) than the ovaries of a younger woman.  My Anti-Mullerian Hormone, which measures ovarian reserve, was very low at 0.15 and indicated “undetectable” egg supply. My Antral Follicle Count, which counts resting follicles in the first few days of the cycle and indicates how many follicles may have the potential to grow that cycle, was never higher than 5 (a “normal” or “good” is between 15-25).

My doctor looked at all of these numbers, and that information is what drove his diagnosis of my condition, and his grim prognosis for my success.

The reality, though, is that we are about so much more than our numbers.   

If it were just about the numbers, all the women with strong numbers would have their babies, and the women like me with sub-optimal numbers wouldn’t.  And we just know this is not the case. Read more about how I overcame the odds to get pregnant with my own eggs and without IVF.

Here’s what we know: fertility does decline as we get older.   And that’s all we know.

Luckily, we “older” women can have some tools in our arsenal to help us get pregnant and have a baby, if that’s what we want.  

Here are some things to keep in mind, as well as some tools for your toolkit, if you’re trying to get pregnant at an “advanced age”:

You do have time.  While age is correlated with fertility, it’s not like the minute you turn 40, or 35, or another age, you all of a sudden aren’t able to get pregnant.  Fertility is more of a continuum. Time may be of the essence, and you may need to act quickly, but you do have time.

Fertility in your 40s is going to look different than it did in your 20s.  You are not the same woman, physically, emotionally or spiritually than you were in your 20s.  Like the rest of you, your fertility has changed too. For example, it’s common as we age to produce less cervical fluid than we do when we’re younger.  Cervical fluid is important when trying to get pregnant, especially when trying naturally, so it’s important to be aware of.

In any area related to your fertility, you need to be able to do your research and find ways to mitigate the situation to account for your age.  This is true regardless of your age, but especially if you’re over 40 and trying to conceive.

5th Birthday

The tools in your arsenal are even more important when you’re older.  On your fertility journey, you’ve probably heard that the following things are important:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Knowing how to track your fertility signs and your menstrual cycles
  • Stress reduction
  • Mind/body connection

These things are crucial for anyone on a fertility journey, regardless of age and whether trying to conceive naturally or through treatment.  Being the healthiest you can be will help you achieve optimal fertility. This is especially crucial for you if you’re at an advanced age.

If you’re trying naturally, it’s important to keep in mind that generally speaking, middle-aged couples tend to have intercourse with less frequency than younger couples.  In trying to conceive, you don’t have to have intercourse all the time, but you do need to have it at the right time, and knowing your cycles will help you pinpoint with laser accuracy when that time is.  

Managing your stress will help you endure the trials and tribulations of fertility treatment, and cultivating a mind-body connection will help you silence the negative self-talk that tells you you’re too old or that your time has passed.   

The fertility journey can really mess with your physical body and your mind, and it’s important to have the tools to fight back.  My Big Little Fertility Toolkit gives you the exact tools that I used on my own successful fertility journey.

Listen to your intuition.  When my doctor told me that I likely wouldn’t get pregnant with my own eggs and that donor egg IVF was my best option, I didn’t disbelieve him.  I knew my numbers; I knew the situation was bad. But I also knew deep down that donor egg IVF wasn’t the right path for me to become a mom. This wasn’t based on any hard facts; I just intuitively knew that intrauterine insemination would work for me.  I knew that I had a good egg somewhere in my dwindling supply and that it was up to me to find it.

I encourage you to learn how to listen to your own intuition.  You’ve been with yourself every second of your life. YOU know yourself better than anybody else.  The answers are already within you, and when you take the time to tune in to yourself and to listen to what your intuition is telling you, those answers will always come to you.

Always keep in mind the end goal.  In our quest to get pregnant we can sometimes lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is not necessarily to be pregnant, but to be a mother. Motherhood can come in many shapes and forms – donor egg, sperm or embryo; surrogacy; adoption. As we get older, it’s increasingly important to keep all of those options in mind if your own natural fertility is compromised and the wellness tools in your toolbox aren’t helping.  

It’s a process to work through your feelings and emotions around the other avenues to motherhood, and it may take some time to do that.  But it may become important to do so, if you need to let go of the idea of a traditional pregnancy. We’re fortunate to live in a time with so many options for parenthood!

A good mantra to keep in mind for your journey is:

“Somehow, some way, I will be a mother.”  

You have power over your journey.   I know it may not seem like it, but you do.  You may be acutely aware every day of your age, and, if you’ve already experienced some setbacks in your fertility path, these weigh on you.  

While there’s so much that’s out of your control – like age, biology, egg supply, there’s still so much you can control.  Things like –

  • How you eat
  • How you move your body
  • How much you sleep
  • How you choose to manage your stress
  • How you interact with others
  • How you show up in the world

These things impact your fertility, and your well-being.

Another good mantra to keep in mind for your journey, and to help you feel and own the power that you have is:

“I am more than my numbers.  Infertility does not define me.”

Because there’s a huge grey area.  And while there have been so many medical and scientific advancements in the areas or fertility, pregnancy and birth, the reality is that there is still so much that we don’t know.  

And it’s this grey area, this area of the unknown, where magic can happen.  

Baby dust to you! xo


Also published on Medium.

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Fertility Journeys

We Check In With IVF Spain’s Couple Laura & Ian

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Laura & Ian

After a well-deserved summer break, many couples decide to start or resume their journey to parenthood such as this year’s Fertility Journey runner-ups, Laura (41) and Ian (44), who recently had their embryo transfer at our clinic.

Laura and Ian have been trying for 5 years to form the family they always wished for, but Laura has unfortunately suffered 4 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy – issues that most were due to Laura’s immune system rejecting the transferred embryos. A situation which could only be addressed by carrying out specific tests to match a compatible donor to Laura such as the KIR-HLAC test.

During their last visit, the couple shared their views on the differences between IVF Spain and their patient journey experience in the UK.

“The major differences here have been that we’ve had additional tests, we had an endometrial biopsy here. I had actually been diagnosed with immune problems previously and we have had 4 miscarriages and 1 ectopic. So, we were given additional treatment here and additional tests to find out exactly what was going on with the immune system. The results showed raised NK cells in some areas and low in others. We’ve paid thousands and thousands of pounds in the UK and never had this level of information or a biopsy – tests were restricted to a blood test. We were then able to have the KIR which matched a donor with us. We have also been put on a special protocol which is granulocyte (GCSF in the UK) to help us keep the baby during pregnancy.”

Most of the patients who decide to start a fertility treatment abroad are concerned about the treatment process and the communication with the clinic. To make our patients feel taken care of throughout the whole process, at IVF Spain we focus on patient-centeredness and personalised treatments in their own language.

“We found the level of patient care absolutely amazing, every piece of communication we were given was reassuring and, unlike our treatments before, this consistent flow of communication took the pressure off us having to find out things for ourselves” – Laura and Ian.

In addition to open and clear communication, we are committed to always offering the best possible and empathic patient care, providing our patients with a relaxing and private atmosphere they need to increase their well-being and comfort.

“Absolutely everybody that we came into contact with has been reassuring, very confident. Nothing is too much trouble. We had a really smooth transfer; we had a beautiful room where we were able to relax in. The doctor was amazingly positive and all of the staff, the embryologists, the nurses… everybody is being consistently really nice and calm and reassuring. A very, very different experience to the ones that we’ve had in the UK.”

“One of the biggest concerns our patients have during their treatment is related to the selection of a suitable egg donor” explains Dr. Sergio Rogel, Director of the IVF Spain Donor Department.

“Choosing a donor is one of the most important aspects of an egg donation treatment. All candidates undergo thorough physical exams to verify an optimal condition, psychological exams to certify their mental health and a gynaecological exam to determine both the number and quality of the eggs along with several additional tests. Many of these medical exams and tests are legally required, but at IVF Spain we pride ourselves in giving our patients an extra level of assurance by testing all our donors on a genetic and immunological level. This allows us to discard more than 200 diseases, but more importantly, guarantee the health of all future babies.”

“When a candidate passes all the mentioned tests she will automatically enter our donor pool and enter a database until being matched to a patient with the optimal phenotypic resemblance,” says Dr. Sergio Rogel.

The fact that Laura and Ian couldn’t take part in the selection process of their donor was liberating. For them, taking part in this process would have only added more pressure and stress. They were relieved of IVF Spain’s donor department taking care of everything:

“In terms of finding the donor, we were able to give some indications regarding what was most important and sent some photographs across and then we didn’t have to do anything else so we found that particularly good for not having too much stress because it is almost out of your hands and that enabled us just to focus on relaxing and having a nice summer before we came for a treatment in September. Having it taken out our hands made the whole experience easier.”

From the IVF Spain laboratory, we received good news: the embryo transfer has been a success. All that is left for now is to wait 10 days to see if the transferred embryo was successfully implanted. We wish them the best of luck!

Victoria, Ross & Rex

We also had the pleasure of meeting Victoria (47) and Ross’s (39) little sunshine Rex. This lovely couple were eternally grateful to their egg donor for her wonderful gift and wanted to express their gratitude with this wonderful message:

“I would like to say to whoever you are and wherever you are in the world: THANK YOU! I don’t think you realise what you did for us as a family, and for me personally as a woman. It made Ross a dad; something that … he was already, he was already a stepdad to our daughter but he wasn’t a biological dad and I know that meant so much to him. It made my daughter a sister. She always wanted a sibling and I was trying for a very long time to give her that. So now she is, and she is the best big sister you would ever meet, and it’s a shame that you won’t know how well she is doing. And as for me as a woman… It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I needed an egg donor to help me but what you’ve done is given me the happy family I always wanted to have.”

Alka, Rhods David

Last but not least, we would like to welcome the newest member of the IVF Spain family. Little David, was born August 24th, weighing in at 7 lbs and 3oz. His mum and dad – 2017 runner-ups – Alka (44) and Rhodri (46) wanted to share this lovely message:

“Little David is such a joy, he gave us his first smile yesterday! We love being a family of four, and feel so thrilled and blessed that he has entered our lives. Our heartfelt thanks to the team at IVF Spain for making our dream a reality”

You can catch up with the other couples working with IVF Spain on their website ivf-spain.com

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Fertility Journeys

Free IVF Treatment And 50 Free Initial Consultations With Gennet City Fertility Clinic

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Gennet City Fertility

At Gennet City Fertility we offer you bespoke fertility treatment using an individualised approach and cutting-edge technologies.

Our promise to you is that we will look thoroughly into your fertility difficulties; that we will use state of the art treatment protocols and technologies, and when appropriate, we will also ‘think outside the box’.

The members of the team at GENNET City Fertility were carefully chosen on the basis of their achievements while working in reputable units in London and overseas. Within our team, we share extensive experience of and vast knowledge in fertility medicine, assisted reproduction and the management of early pregnancy. Using this knowledge and experience we endeavour to provide you with the most expert advice and to guide you through a fertility journey that is caring, safe, professional and transparent.

At our clinic, we offer a number of fertility treatments:

  • Ovulation induction
  • IUI
  • IVF
  • ICSI
  • PICSI – IMSI
  • Egg donation
  • Sperm donation
  • Embryo donation
  • Surrogacy

We also offer many other services:

  • Joint, female or male fertility assessment
  • Egg freezing
  • Sperm freezing
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
  • Preimplantation genetic screening
  • Urology and Andrology
  • Surgical sperm retrieval
  • Counselling
  • Psychosexual advice
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritionist consultation
  • Support groups and support programs.

We are a proud partner of Access Fertility which is the largest provider of IVF Refund & Multi-Cycle Programmes and Fertility Finance in the UK.

Ramesan Navaratnarajah

WHAT ARE WE OFFERING TO FERTILITY ROAD READERS?

A FREE IVF TREATMENT DRAW & 50 FREE INITIAL CONSULTATIONS

We are offering a free fertility treatment (IVF/ICSI) including the medication to one lucky couple. In addition to this, we will select 50 couples for a free initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists worth £200.

TO APPLY

To enter the draw for the incredible free round of IVF/ICSI or a chance to have one of the 50 fully funded consultation appointments, please read the terms and conditions below and follow the link to the form to submit your application.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

The fertility treatment prize includes initial consultation, pre-treatment tests (Antral follicle count scan, AMH blood test, semen assessment etc.), 1 cycle of IVF treatment, plus ICSI if required.

  • All medication
  • Medical and nursing appointments and care
  • All in-treatment laboratory tests and procedures
  • Monitoring and scanning costs
  • Egg Collection
  • Embryo transfer
  • Pregnancy serum test
  • Pregnancy ultrasound scan
  • Follow up consultation (if taken within three months of treatment completion)
  • Counselling
  • The prize does not include:
  • Cost of freezing embryos plus the storage of embryos.
  • Surgical sperm retrieval
  • Empirical treatments

This prize does not include any costs of having donor treatment. If the prize winner needs donor eggs or sperm we would deduct the costs of the above and the recipient would need to pay the additional costs.

The value of this prize is in excess of £6000.

This prize could not be used against surrogacy treatment.

THE ACTUAL PROCESS

We will contact the winner and aim to get them a consultation to start treatment as soon as possible, depending on their cycle.

Any offer of treatment is subject to the relevant Welfare of the Child checks. Patients would also need to have a BMI of less than 35 to undergo treatment.

If the applicant has travelled to a Zika affected country they would be required to wait the length of the relevant quarantine period before treatment could commence.

FREE IVF CYCLE SELECTION CRITERIA

The successful applicants that will be shortlisted for the free IVF treatment prize must be under the age of 38 years old and with a BMI that is 19 to 35.

This offer doesn’t apply to existing Gennet City Fertility patients who are currently undergoing treatment.

50 FREE INITIAL CONSULTATIONS SELECTION CRITERIA

The successful applicants who will be shortlisted for the 50 free consultation appointments must be under the age 50. The appointments will be offered according to the clinic’s availability.

This offer doesn’t apply to existing Gennet City Fertility patients who are currently undergoing treatment

The successful couple that will receive the free IVF cycle will not be included in the 50 free consultations draw.

TO APPLY PLEASE CLICK HERE

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