Mayra de la Garza
Medical Director
View from the Top

Shortening the Wait for New Life

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:55

Q: What conditions in Cancun drove the opening of a new IREGA clinic?

A: IREGA’s first clinic opened in Acapulco. Our decision to open a clinic in Cancun was partly a response to specific health needs in the region. Around 20 percent of the population in the state is affected by fertility problems. When we opened in 2011, there were no fertility clinics in Quintana Roo. If people needed treatment they had to travel to Merida or Mexico City.

Q: How do medical tourism trends impact IREGA’s strategy and operations?

A: Around 30 percent of our patients are medical tourists, which is a very high percentage. When we opened our clinic we were focusing on local population but we started receiving requests from people from the US and Canada that were looking for treatment options outside their countries. Economic reasons and long waiting periods are the main elements when people decide to come to Cancun. We have received patients from many places including Europe, Latin America and Russia, but most of our patients come from the US and Canada. We promote ourselves using digital media and our webpage acts as a communication portal. We also participate in medical congresses and events. Part of our service for foreign patients is a logistics team that helps them get all the information they need for planning their trip and provides transportation for them once they are in Cancun.

Q: What processes do couples have to go through when they go to an IREGA clinic?

A: When a couple comes for the first time we ask for their clinical history. We study their family background and if they have undergone any previous treatment. We look for signs of diseases that might affect their reproductive ability such as endometriosis, pelvic and inflammatory diseases and STDs. We assess the uterus and ovaries. All of this is done in the first visit. Follow-up studies are required to evaluate hormones, the uterus cavity and fallopian tubes as well as a sperm sample, for which we assess its' volume, mobility, morphology and concentration. We have to estimate the course of treatment. Some couples only need stimulation treatments, while others might need to undergo a surgical procedure before they can begin fertility treatments.

The tests we perform help us to be realistic about our patient’s opportunities. It is vital to always tell them the truth regarding their chances of success. However, we have very high success rates. Our strict quality controls help us achieve an 80 percent fertilization rate. Once the eggs are fertilized we wait for embryonic development and we freeze the eggs so that couples can use them in the following months. Most of our patients are 34 or 35 years old and our in vitro procedures have a success rate of 80 percent. If a couple does not get pregnant after two clinical attempts they are required to perform follow-up studies to determine which problems they might be encountering.

Q: What are the reasons behind increasing infertility rates?

A: Lifestyle and professional goals are prompting young couples to postpone parenthood. This takes a toll on their ability to become parents. The older women get the harder it is for them to get pregnant. After women turn 35 years old, their fertility rates begin to decrease and are drastically reduced after the age of 40. But age is not the only setback. Pollution, environmental and chemical agents and toxic particles are also to be blamed.

A healthy couple has an 8 percent monthly opportunity of getting pregnant naturally. After the age of 35, this percentage drops to 6 percent and after the age of 40, it declines 4 percent more. Age plays an important role. The success rate for getting pregnant with assisted reproduction techniques is 60 percent but after the age of 40 the percentage drops to 15-20 percent. There are two main conditions related to women’s age. As we get older, our ovarian reserves and our oocyte quality are reduced and our risks of miscarriage increase, especially after the age of 40. Men also face fertility problems. There are many factors that decrease sperm production. Being exposed to high temperatures is not conducive for sperm production, as is smoking and being exposed to pesticides or chemical agents. Men are also affected by age.