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Posts Tagged ‘donor egg ivf’

I often get asked why people choose to go to the Czech Republic for IVF, donor egg IVF, and donor embryo treatments.  My friends Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos, MA and Lauri Berger de Brito over at Global IVF have recently been traveling in Europe speaking at a conference on cross border reproductive care. Their travels also included Prague and Brno and they kindly invited me to write a guest post for their blog on the subject of why people choose to go to the Czech Republic for their IVF Vacations.

Please stop by and let me know what you think, or tell me if I missed any key factors that made it appealing to you: http://www.globalivf.com/blog/?p=745

 

One last reminder…..this blog is has now been moved.  Please come over to our new home at www.ivftraveler.com/blog so you don’t miss out on new posts and hopefully many more lively discussions about traveling abroad for IVF treatments.

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Over the past month or maybe more, I’ve been in the process of moving this blog to new digs.  That’s why it has been so quiet here – moving and getting settled in my new online place was a lot more work than I had anticipated.  So thanks to those of you who stuck with me through the long pause.

I finally built a full IVF Traveler website, and now I have moved this blog into my new website home.   Now the move is done, and after lots of testing and tweaking, hopefully everything is working as it should.

So, please come join me over at my new place for a little open house – you can take a peek around and tell me what you think of my new website www.ivftraveler.com. I am offering some new services, and I’m very excited about how the business is growing.

I do plan to start more regularly blogging about IVF and egg donor IVF around the world on this blog.   The new blog URL is www.ivftraveler.com/blog I hope that you will stop by, and add my new RSS feed to your favorite blog reader.

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A recent New York Times article posed the question “Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue“?  It went on to describe how making decision after decision can wear people down, sometimes resulting in poor choices or a different choice than may have been made with a fresh mind.

It reminded me of the overwhelming number of decisions that have to be made during an infertility journey, particularly the choices made during an IVF cycle.  By the end of the cycle, or end of the journey, are we making the same decisions we would have made when our minds were fresh (or maybe we were more naive)?

I think there is something to be said for the fact that some decisions should be made after a good night’s sleep.  Whether it is own egg or donor egg IVF, fresh cycle or frozen donor eggs or donor embryos, domestic clinic or international clinic, proven or unproven donor, how many embryos to transfer, whether to do PGD testing, what foods to eat or avoid, accupuncture or not, which type of progesterone, POAS or not?  The list feels like an endless number of decisions that have to be made.

By the end of a cycle  we’re on the rollercoaster of emotions hopped up on estrogen and progesterone (and maybe steroids or blood thinners) and that is when we are making these all important decisions – and then second guessing them over and over again.  It is no wonder that we are driving ourselves simply crazy with worry and “what ifs”.  And usually, that is when we gather our trusted friends and confidantes around us to talk us off of the cliff and help us hold on to hope or at least cautious optimism or neutrality.

Although not much can be done to lessen the number of hard choices to be made, I think we can be cognizant of identifying which choices will need to be made, and when – and what decision points or input will be necessary prior to making those decisions.  I think it is the last minute – “quick, decide now” types of decisions that are most often replayed over and over in our minds.  The ones where perhaps we felt unprepared, or caught off guard – those are the ones that often keep people awake at night wondering…..what if.

So, my advice is to know yourself (when you are at your best decision-making) and try to make the majority of the important decisions with a clear, fresh head and full stomach. Then, make sure you review with your clinic and doctor what decisions you will be asked to make, and when. That way you can be prepared, and maybe even have a chance to discuss it with your partner (if you have one) or trusted IVF friends in advance for additional input.  And lastly, trust your instincts.  Usually your gut will not steer you wrong.   And if all else fails and there is no one “right” answer, what always worked for me was asking myself “if things go wrong, which choice will I regret less”.

Happy decision-making.

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After someone decides to do donor egg IVF, one of the very first decisions to make is anonymous donor, known donor, or something in between (sometimes called semi-known).    This one question will help determine which clinics you can use and what your next steps will be.

As in all things fertility-related, there is no single “right” answer to this question.   It is a very personal choice that should be made thoughtfully. 

Let’s explore factors that might help you decide:

I think the PVED (Parent’s Via Egg Donation) website does a terrific job of describing each below:

  • An anonymous egg donor is an egg donor you do not meet, selected with the help of a clinic or an agency. You do not know her name or anything else about her that is not stated on her profile. You may or may not see a photo of the donor. The donor would know nothing about the recipient/intended parent(s) or the cycle other than how many eggs were retrieved, and in some instances, whether or not a pregnancy resulted.
  • A semi-known egg donor is an egg donor who knows the recipient/intended parent(s’) first name(s) and the state in which they live. The donor and recipient/intended parent(s) might exchange emails and photos; however, no specific personal information is provided about the donor or the recipient/intended parent(s).
  • A known egg donor can be a friend, family member, or someone selected by the recipient/intended parent(s) with the intention of meeting face-to-face. The donor may know the recipient/intended parent(s’) first and last names and/or where they live, and in addition the two parties may be willing to exchange email, telephone calls, and personal information as well as to continue to keep in contact with one another. The donor and the recipient/intended parent(s) may agree upon the child meeting the donor at a future point in time. The recipient/intended parent(s) may or may not send photos of their child with updates to the egg donor as well. The arrangement regarding exchange of information is agreed upon and put into place between the egg donor and recipient/intended parent(s) at the time of the cycle. In many instances, information is shared for medical purposes.

Now comes the hard part, deciding which of these is best choice. There are a variety of factors that can help make it easier to decide. 

Anonymous – this means you do not get to personally pick the donor and will not have any relationship with this donor.  Someone else–usually the RE or clinic–is making the selection for you, generally based on criteria that you provide.  That criteria could include height, weight, hair & eye coloring, ethnicity, age, education and a variety of other factors – you may even see a baby or adult photo in some cases (although generally not allowed in many clinics abroad).  And even though it is anonymous, you will likely receive some limited information about the donor.  This may range from the most basic stats to pages of detailed information.  Often the laws of the country where you are doing IVF will determine how much information is made available to you.  Be sure to ask this in advance and make sure you are comfortable with the level of information you will receive.  There is something to be said about eliminating all of the angst of making the donor selection yourself – you aren’t paying for testing of a donor that might not be approved, and you aren’t getting attached to a donor only to find out she’s no longer available. 

One consideration with an anonymous donor–particularly in most cases where you will never see a photo–is that you will never look at your chld and see the donor’s characteristics or say to yourself – I see the donor’s eyes, chin, smile, etc.     For some, that alone may be worth giving up the option to see a photo of the donor. 

Also, in most cases you won’t have to deal with the details of a donor contract.  The contract will be between the clinic and the donor, you will not be a party to that contract. Nor will you have any liability for the donor’s future medical care for anything related to the cycle (this clause is included in many donor contracts).

Of course, it also means that your child will never have the opportunity to learn more about the donor.  For some people, this is a deal breaker, for others, it is a blessing. 

Semi-known – More and more I see a move toward semi-known donors here in the US.   It is sort of a hybrid between known and anonymous – with some of the benefits of a known donor (photos, detailed profile, etc.) without full information disclosure or the worry about having an on-going relationship with the donor.  Perhaps we are kidding ourselves though if we believe that with a first name, college information, age, photo and other lmiited imformation a prospective parent wouldn’t be able to find out full information about a donor in about 15 minutes with Google and Facebook.  And the opposite is also probably true that many intended parents could be tracked down just as easily. 

Some clinics or agencies will allow you to have a face to face meeting with a semi-known donor, and some will not.   If this is important to you, discuss it with the agency or clinic in advance.  Semi-known donation  does generally require that you have a contract with the donor, which may allow you to negotiate some of the terms of the donation, your obligations, and potential future contact.  However, keep in mind that you really cannot legally make someone fulfill their commitment to allow contact with you or your child 18 years down the road. They may commit to keep a 3rd party notified of their contact information, but realistically, a lot can happen in a donor’s life in 18 years.  So, while you can set the expectation of a potential exchange of information, legal experts seem to agree that it would be difficult if not impossible to enforce.  Yet, it still provides the potential of your child obtaining more information (health history, etc.) about the donor if all parties agree.     

Known– Often a known donor is a friend or family member, but it can also be someone you’ve never met before.  The characteristic of a known donor is that full information is exchanged between parties.  A legal contract spelling out all of the details of the agreement is a must!  Even if this is a family member or best friend, it is best to keep everything outlined in writing so no misunderstandings occur.  If this person is a family member or close friend, it is a very good idea to have counseling together to explore all aspects of the process and make sure you are in sync with what will happen regarding frozen embryos, disclosure, and many other aspects.

Some clinics outside of the US will allow you to bring your own known donor,  but some countries have laws that prevent any known donors.  So be sure to verify this in advance with the clinic if you are looking at DE IVF abroad and want to bring your own donor.    And if you do bring your own known donor to another country, you should still have a legal contract in place in the country where you live and do the psychological evaluations to help ensure that everyone is in agreement about key aspects of the process. 

Is there one “right” choice?  No.  You have to decide what is most important to you, and that will help you narrow down your options of where you can go for your treatment.  That’s why this should probably be one of the first decisions you make. 

But aren’t we lucky to have so many choices available to us?

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Well, I’m back after a long radio silence.  Do you ever just need some time to process and re-group?  Well, that’s my excuse. 

So, I’m back, but this time, I’ve decided to take a slightly new approach to this blog.   Instead of just talking about my journey, I want to start sharing more about what I’ve learned about doing IVF outside of the good ole USA. 

Perhaps something I say will in some way help other fertility warriors along the way–those exploring or doing IVF,  donor egg IVF, donor embryos, surrogacy or any other fertility treatments abroad.  And I welcome your comments or questions as we go along together in this journey.  

One thing I want to say up front…I will try very hard to ensure that there are no judgments here. I truly believe that each person has their own path and you should feel comfortable exploring your options and then making informed decisions about your fertility choices based on what feels right to you for your family. I have realized after many years in infertility circles, the controversies abound and the passions run high – after all, most of us are in some phase of disrupting our hormones.  So, while I may touch on “hot topics” or controversial topics (such as “how old is too old”, single mothers by choice, donor disclosure, pre-implantation genetic testing, gender selection, selective reduction, what to do with frozen embryos, etc.) my goal will be to present balanced information and let you, the reader, make your own decisions.

I have now personally worked with more than 50 women (and often their partners) helping them facilitate their IVF treatments abroad. In addition, I have recently started a big research project about “fertility tourism” – exploring the treatments, costs, success rates and other details about ART (assisted reproductive technology) across the globe.  Along the way, with much time, money & research invested, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) more about this subject than I ever would have imagined when I started this journey planning my own treatments.

As a thank you to those who have generously shared with me along the way and as a sort of “pay it forward” to anyone else in this process, I hope that what I’m sharing will be valuable and help you in some small way in your path of achieving your dream of having a baby.

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