How do I start an IVF cycle?

Your first step is to contact us either though the contact us section of this website or by calling +246 435 7467. You will be scheduled to speak with one of our Fertility Specialists. You do not need a referral letter for this appointment. It is advisable that you fax or bring a copy of any previous medical records, which are pertinent to this appointment.

After your consultation with the Consultant if an IVF cycle has been decided as the treatment most suitable for you, you will have a consultation with a Clinical Nurse Coordinator. At this consultation our nurse will give you a full overview and orientation of the details and procedures involved in an IVF cycle. Our nurse will give you a step-by-step outline of what to expect during your treatment and any additional tests required.

What routine testing is required prior to IVF at Barbados Fertility Centre?

All couples undergoing IVF at BFC require pre-cycle testing. A general list of these tests are available here but they do vary slightly depending on what treatment a couple is having. The list appropriate to you will be available after your initial consultation

What are the side effects of medications used in IVF?

In general, the IVF medications used to prepare the uterus and to stimulate the ovaries only have temporary symptoms such as abdominal bloating, low-grade headaches, hot flushes, mood swings but are not known to carry any long-term risks of cancer of the ovary, unless there is a family history of ovarian cancer. The most serious side effect would be ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – see here for more detail.

How many eggs should I expect to get?

Your in-cycle monitoring ultrasound scans will be able to give you an accurate count of how many follicles are developing. However, not every follicle always contains an egg. Usually about 80% of follicles yield an egg. The number of eggs collected is dependant upon each patient’s response but at Barbados Fertility Centre our average egg number is 10 per retrieval.

Are the procedures involved in IVF painful?

The pre IVF cycle lab-work tests includes the drawing of blood for various tests and an evaluation of the cavity of the uterus called the saline infusions sonogram (SIS) which can be done in your gynecologist’s office and you should experience minimal discomfort. You will also have injectable fertility medications, which are administered subcutaneously with a short needle and discomfort should be tolerable.

The egg retrieval is performed through the vagina with ultrasound and a fine needle. Patients at Barbados Fertility Centre are asleep during this procedure. The procedure is known as conscious sedation. This is not a general anesthetic but patients are not awake and they have no pain. They wake up very quickly after the egg retrieval, which usually lasts 15-30 minutes.

The embryo transfer procedure is similar to a Pap smear or IUI procedure and is generally performed with minimal discomfort.

If my cycle is unsuccessful when can I have another one?

We recommend you take one month’s break between fresh IVF cycles to allow the ovaries resume to normal before being re-stimulated. If you do have frozen embryos remaining from your fresh cycle however, you can choose to proceed with a frozen embryo transfer cycle without a break.

How long can my embryos remain frozen?

The HFEA in the UK, whose guidelines we follow at Barbados Fertility Centre, states that embryos can safely remain frozen for up to 5 years.

What happens if I want to use my frozen embryos elsewhere?

Embryos are being continuously shipped between IVF clinics worldwide for many reasons. At Barbados Fertility Center we have very stringent protocols, which we follow to prevent any damage to your embryos in transit, to the clinic of your choice.

What activity restrictions should I follow after my embryo transfer?

Once you are discharged we recommend our patients rest the day of the embryo transfer procedure. Normal activities can be resumed the day afterwards. We do not recommend any high impact activities or over-exertion until the pregnancy test. We advise patients to avoid any hot-tubs/Jacuzzis or hot baths during this time also. Sexual intercourse can resume at any time depending on the female patients level of comfort after the egg retrieval.

I am on the birth control pill (BCP) and spotting – is this normal?

Yes, breakthrough bleeding is one of the most common side-effects of the pill. If you are having any bleeding or spotting and are concerned, phone your nurse coordinator. However, it is nothing to be worried about as the medication is still having the desired effect. You still need to continue the pill every day until directed by your clinic to discontinue.

Can my endometriosis affect my fertility or IVF cycle?

Endometriosis is a medical condition where cells that usually remain confined to the cavity of the uterus, grow outside of the uterus usually on or in the ovaries and also on the surface of the pelvic cavity between the uterus and the rectum. Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain and may also decrease the chances of natural conception, as it can affect tubal function and ovulation. Patients who require IVF and who have endometriosis should still have the same chances of a successful outcome as patients of the same age without endometriosis.

What about alternative treatments like acupuncture?

Acupuncture and Reflexology, administered by an experienced practitioner who is aware of your medical diagnoses and treatment plan, can facilitate relaxation as well as optimize ovarian response and implantation. We encourage our patients to seek assistance in these areas. Herbal medicines can be helpful but also potentially dangerous. We ask our couples to review any herbal medication with us prior to starting a course. They need to be dispensed under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.