Helping couples to conceive

WITH more and more Caribbean women being affected by infertility and experiencing the anguish of not being able to conceive, they would be glad to know that a regional fertility clinic has been established which is dedicated to assisting them conceive.

The Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) provides state of the art fertility treatment options in a clean, relaxed, atmosphere for couples seeking to start their own families.

It is the only full-time fertility unit in the Caribbean with a top of the line In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) laboratory, egg retrieval suite, recovery room, clinical consultations and ultrasound facilities.

The clinic’s specialists also combine IVF treatment with reduce stress programmes, thus giving their patients a higher chance of successfully conceiving.

Part of the stress reduction programme entails reflexology (reduces stress levels and increases blood flow to the uterus), acupuncture, a yoga and meditation session for the couples to enhance their deep breathing and relaxation techniques, individual and group counselling sessions and the putting up of the couples in a top spa resort.

The BFC is based in St Michael, Barbados, and recently conducted a free educational seminar in TT at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain, for couples who are trying to conceive.

The educational seminar was entitled "Advances in Fertility Treatment and increasing a Patient’s Probability of Success" and was aimed at enlightening all couples that are trying to conceive plus doctors and nurses who treat and advise such patients.

According to a February 2006 BFC newsletter, the clinic has an impressive 25 percent success rate in women aged 37 or under which compares favourably with developed countries like the USA (41 percent) and Britain (54 percent).

In the 38-41 age group, the clinic had a 15 percent success rate compared to 26 percent in the USA and 39 percent in the UK while in the 42 and over age category, the BFC had a four percent success rate compared to 12 percent for the USA and 22 percent for the UK.

These latest statistics were calculated from SART (USA) and HFEA (UK), according to the newsletter.

The centre’s head clinician, Barbadian Dr Juliet Skinner said an investment of US $1.5 million was made to ensure the highest quality patient care with the most modern medical equipment.

Dr Skinner has been a gynaecologist since 1993 and she is assisted at the centre by two other medical specialists — Irish nurse manager Anna Hosford (ten years experience) and British senior embryologist Damian Pike (15 years). Dr Skinner explained how the clinic was established.

"I realised that gynaecology treatment for infertility was lacking in the region," she stated, "so myself and some of my Irish colleagues decided to set up the clinic to be a world class unit for our people and for non-Caribbean patients." It’s not only West Indians who are utilising the clinic’s facilities, for a growing number of foreigners are coming down to Barbados to receive fertility treatment.

"Infertility affects one in six couples worldwide," she said, "and the region was in desperate need of a centre where they could get world class fertility advice, support and treatment. Hence, the establishment of the centre."

She said the single biggest factor for the worldwide rise in infertility was that women are delaying their childbearing, however, this could lead to them experiencing medical problems to conceive when they do decide to have children.

Dr Skinner revealed that the clinic uses IVF treatment to assist couples with their infertility problems.

"IVF is very safe, as a matter of fact, a million and a half babies were born worldwide through IVF and its safety profile is well established," she noted.

The doctor disclosed that there is a four-step treatment policy at the clinic.

"The first step is helping the woman produce eggs," she said, "followed by the second step of getting the eggs out and combining them with sperm by lab growth. The final process involves embryo transfer."

The centre’s specialists also do semen analysis to ascertain how much of it is present, whether it’s moving and if its normal. She said in 2005, an anonymous egg programme was established at the centre which has helped many couples to conceive.

"We use donor eggs from a younger woman and mix it with a husband’s sperm."

Dr Skinner said it is cheaper for a couple to obtain IVF treatment at the Barbados Fertility Centre when compared to similar clinics in the industrialised countries.

"The average cost of IVF in the US is US $12,000," she stated, "but at the centre it’s US$5,000. Now, that’s a big difference for many couples when it comes to deciding whether or not to have IVF treatment."

She concluded, "We would like Caribbean couples to know that at last, there’s world class treatment for couples wanting to have babies."


"Helping couples to conceive"

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