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The importance of personalised IVF treatment approach. Case study: IVF Life

Paola Costanzo
International Patient Care Assistant

Category:
IVF Abroad, IVF process

personalized-ivf-treatment-abroad-approach
From this video you will find out:
  • What should effective patient care entail, starting with the initial consultation?
  • What information should the patient have before making their initial appointment with the clinic?
  • What treatment procedures are offered by IVF-Life Group?
  • What tests must be run, how are patients evaluated, and how is the treatment plan created?

 

The importance of personalised IVF treatment approach. Case study: IVF Life

During this session, we discussed what personalised IVF treatment actually entails and why it is crucial. Paola Costanzo, an International Patient Care Assistant at IVF Life Alicante, provided an overview of how personalised treatments are performed based on clinical experience at IVF Life.

At IVF Life, patient care is one of the most important factors when it comes to the patient journey in a fertility clinic, especially when we are talking about going abroad. Most of the patients come with experience, especially to our clinic because we specialize in complex cases. After patients have dealt with IVF back home, maybe doing several cycles, they decide to try it outside their country, maybe looking for new technologies or different approaches to achieve a different outcome.

We’ve seen that when patients move from another country, especially when they don’t speak the same language, it adds more stress to the journey. This is what we want to try to avoid, that level of stress during the journey. So, IVF Life has developed two different departments that manage the whole communication between the patient and the clinic. There is a commercial team and the follow-up team. These two departments, when the patient starts the journey since the first contact, will have their own personal assistant until they reach week 12 of pregnancy. This assistant will be the main point of communication throughout the entire clinic. If you have a question regarding your donor or a medical question about your treatment, your assistant will contact the respective departments to provide you with the answers you are looking for. This way, we avoid the need for the patient to explain the entire situation repeatedly and ensure effective communication throughout the journey.

Communication protocols

All the doctors at IVF Life speak more than two languages. Dr Herrera, for instance, speaks Portuguese, French, German, and Spanish. The patient’s understanding of why we make certain decisions based on specific factors is important to us. Even though they have consultations with the doctors, who are closely involved in the patient journey, the assistants are always available to answer any questions that may arise. This way, we ensure comprehensive patient care. We provide patient care through phone, email, or physical contact, depending on the patient’s preference and situation. When the patient comes to the clinic before starting the treatment, we organize the first visit.

One of the advantages we have is that when the patient has the initial consultation, which we recommend doing on-site, there is always an assistant present. After you finish your consultation with the doctor, where you receive a diagnosis, treatment plan, and a list of required tests, you will also have a consultation with your assistant. The assistant will answer any questions that may not have been addressed during the doctor’s consultation. They will also explain the medical plan step by step, including the medication, ultrasounds, and required documentation. Each country has different legislation, and we will ensure compliance with the legislation in Spain. If the patient wants to do something that goes against the legislation, we will explain why it’s not possible.

You will have a follow-up first until confirmation of your treatment. After confirming your treatment, your file will be transferred to the follow-up team. They are more specialized in medication and test results, as well as the treatment itself. The coordination with all departments will be through your personal assistant.

Get information that you might need for your own treatment, and of course, in-depth knowledge of the resources. During the consultation, you might come to the clinic with a set of mine, thinking that you want to do this treatment, maybe because you’ve read on the Internet that it would be viable for you or might give you a positive outcome. However, when you get to the clinic, the doctor, after doing the consultation, reading your medical history, and performing some tests, might give you a different opinion. As an assistant, when we have first contact and see that the patient is coming up with an idea that we know is not going to be possible, even though we are not doctors, we would inform or at least try to guide the patient toward what we know will be best for them instead of trying to perform a treatment that we know will not have any positive results. That’s why we must manage the resources we offer.

Two modalities for consultations are available: online and on-site. The recommendation is always to come in person because that way you can see the doctor and we can perform the tests here at the clinic. In cases where patients cannot come to Spain for personal reasons, we also go to their countries and try to see them face-to-face through patient meetings. Patient meetings consist of having a face-to-face consultation in a private room with your doctor. There are free consultations where the doctor can have a basic knowledge of your history, and if you decide and have a good feeling, you like the doctor and the diagnosis, and see that this is the path you want to go, then we will prepare your whole case to come to the clinic, do all the tests, and take the step forward towards achieving your dream.

For the first contact, the first thing for us is to provide information about the services we offer, the different treatments, the explanation of the technologies, and, the prices. This information will help you make a decision, especially if you are evaluating different clinics. The first step would be organizing the first visit. During the first visit, we have the advantage of having our in-house laboratory. When the patient comes to the clinic, we take a sperm sample while you, as a patient, are doing your consultation with the doctor. This way, we can test the sperm sample and have the results ready during your consultation. The doctor can then give you a diagnosis based on the male factor. If further tests are needed or if the patient requires additional vitamins to improve quality, the doctor can provide that information during the visit. We also conduct blood tests, and since we have our in-house laboratory, we can have the results right away. This helps the doctors make the most accurate decisions regarding the treatment, including the type of medication and doses that would be best for you.

In conclusion, visiting the clinic in person provides an opportunity to see our facilities, meet the doctor, and have tests done promptly. We strive to offer comprehensive information, personalized care, and accessible communication channels for our patients.

Facilities:
When you start treatment at IVF Life in Spain, there are minimum requirements that can be completed during the initial consultation. This way, you don’t have to go back home and stress about getting them done there. We can perform all the necessary tests and procedures at our clinic. We understand that you may not have access to certain resources or specialists at home, so we aim to provide everything you need during your visit.

Hotel and Services:
IVF Life offers assistance with hotel reservations and provides a pickup service for our patients. The clinic has agreements with some of the best hotels in Alicante, offering special offers to our patients. The clinic is located in a quiet area, providing a peaceful environment. Many of our patients take the opportunity to turn their visit into a mini-holiday, enjoying the nice weather and nearby beaches. It’s a great opportunity to relax and make the most of your time here.

Patient Journey:
The patient journey begins with the first contact, where the assistants answer any questions you may have before you consult with the doctor. This way, when you meet the doctor, you already know of the resources we offer and can focus on your specific case. During your first visit, all the necessary tests and analyses are conducted. This visit typically takes only one day. Based on the results, the doctor prepares a treatment plan according to your availability. If the sperm sample is good, it can be frozen, eliminating the need for the male partner to return unless they choose to do so. Subsequent visits would depend on the procedure being performed, such as egg retrieval or embryo transfer. Our goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for you, minimizing the number of times you need to travel to Spain.

Support and Care:
Throughout the entire process, the main goal is to alleviate your stress and concerns. We arrange pickup services, provide a clinic tour, conduct gynaecologist examinations, and develop a treatment plan. We also provide you with the necessary prescriptions, so you can fly back home with your medication. Our dedicated team takes care of all the logistics, allowing you to focus solely on your treatment and your future baby. We understand the stress involved in IVF treatment, both emotionally and financially, and we aim to support you every step of the way.

- Questions and Answers

Is there an age limit for the women you treat? 

Normally, for egg donation, we treat women until around 42-43 years old. However, sometimes, when we use the ovarian rejuvenation technique, we have had women as old as 46 years successfully conceiving with their own genetic material. We strive to provide the best treatment options, including Ovarian Rejuvenation and optimizing available resources. We also perform the PGT-A before implantation. This way, we can help women of older age have babies with their own genetic material. However, it’s important to note that women of advanced age may face more technical challenges. Regarding egg donation, there is an age limit of 50 and 11 months. Once you turn 51, you are no longer eligible.

What kind of tests are required for the first consultation? 

There are no specific tests required before coming to the clinic. The entire evaluation will be done during the consultation. The main factors considered are AMH levels, AFC, and the patient’s age. Based on these factors, the doctor will determine if working with the patient’s own eggs is feasible or if egg donation should be considered.

What about male evaluation?

There are no specific requirements before coming to the clinic. Semen samples will be analyzed, and if the quality is not satisfactory, further tests or recommendations may be provided. Our clinic performs comprehensive tests, including DNA fragmentation and apoptosis, which many other clinics don’t offer. Medication and fresh sperm may be used depending on the results.

What is your opinion on acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine? Is it available at your clinic? 

We recommend alternative therapies such as acupuncture, Tai chi, and Reiki at our clinic. We have a professional who performs acupuncture and provides these therapies. They can help reduce stress and improve the chances of successful embryo implantation.

When is Ovarian Rejuvenation indicated? 

Ovarian Rejuvenation is typically recommended for women with a poor ovarian response or poor ovarian reserve. We need to clarify that this treatment is still experimental. Although we have been performing it in our clinic for the past three years, we do not yet have enough cases to draw definitive conclusions. However, in most women, we have observed an increase in the number and possibly the quality of eggs. We cannot determine if the egg quality, aside from quantity, has improved due to the lack of sufficient material. Nevertheless, this treatment can be beneficial for women who wish to use their own eggs to conceive a baby.

Can some couples never have a pregnancy due to genetic incompatibility? 

Until 11 years ago, we encountered cases of women who were unable to conceive or experienced recurrent miscarriages. Upon further investigation, we discovered genetic incompatibility, specifically HLA (human leukocyte antigen) issues. We worked with an immunologist from Germany who provided treatments, and our doctors underwent training. By addressing the incompatibility and providing appropriate medication and guidance throughout the process, these couples were able to conceive and have successful pregnancies. Since then, the majority of women who previously faced implantation failures or difficulties have achieved successful pregnancies. It is rare for us to encounter someone who cannot get pregnant due to genetic incompatibility.
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Authors
Paola Costanzo

Paola Costanzo

Paola Costanzo is an International Patient Care Assistant at IVF Life Alicante. Paola has been a part of the English team of IVF-Life Alicante for about 4 years. She is in charge of the orientation and assistance of patients who decide to come to the clinic. Although her university studies do not concern the field of fertility, with time she became passionate about it. Her goal is to accompany patients during their journey and to give her contribution in the fulfilment of their family project.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.