Caribbean Beat Magazine

Fertile isle

The Barbados Fertility Centre is a tropical haven for couples looking to conceive

  • Barbados Fertility Centre. Photograph courtesy BFC

The Barbados Fertility Centre

One out of six couples cannot conceive.

Emma and Marcus O’Hanlon were one such couple. Frustrated at the eight-month waiting list in the UK, where they lived, they went to a private consultant, who confirmed that Emma had blocked tubes and her only option was in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). In 2004, they underwent an IVF cycle, which failed.

Angry, Emma sought help from a fertility support website. She found out about the Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) and, together with her husband, headed to the Caribbean. She became pregnant after treatment there.

The O’Hanlons’ story is among those the BFC boasts of.

The brainchild of Dr Juliet Skinner, a Bajan infertility expert trained in Ireland, the BFC, which opened in 2002, specialises in all aspects of infertility management.

The Caribbean’s first dedicated in-vitro fertility unit, the BFC performs two common techniques: in-vitro fertility (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a modification of IVF. It is also among the few worldwide to offer a blastocyst transfer programme, which allows embryos to grow in vitro for up to five days.

BFC treats couples and, while it does not provide solutions for male infertility factors, specialists select the best sperm for fertilisation if the couple’s problem is related to sperm quality.

About 80 per cent of BFC’s clientele is domestic, and the other 20 per cent regional and international.

BFC says it has the edge over similar clinics because of its personalised care and low costs. Treatments are said to cost a third less than elsewhere.
Then there’s the Caribbean factor. While stress does not cause infertility, it affects it, and the island environment is marketed as the best place to relieve stress.

In addition, couples wishing to keep their plans secret can simply chalk up their trip to Barbados as just another holiday, without raising eyebrows.

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

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