Pros and Cons to a Procreation Vacation (Our Experience with IVF Abroad in Barbados)

Con: Getting the drugs you need before you go can be a challenge 

This was a big source of stress leading up to our IVF treatment. While the Barbados Fertility Centre gives you a prescription for specific drugs you need to start taking before you arrive on the island, you need to get a Canadian doctor to co-sign on the drugs and this process literally took me MONTHS to do—and it wasn’t even fully successful. 

Even our local fertility clinic, which I’ve already said is terrible so this checks out, wouldn’t prescribe some of the drugs to me—even though I paid a “satellite fee” to have them process the rest of the prescriptions for me. The whole process was just ridiculous.

No one in Canada apparently wanted to be responsible in case something went wrong with the drugs even though the Barbados Fertility Centre is literally one of the best in the world and I am simply not the first Canadian or PERSON to ever take the drugs. I was so frustrated and mad and spent months trying to get the drugs. In the end, there were some I couldn’t get, so had to start those later once we arrived on the island. At least knowing that was an option made me feel better, though depending on your specific situation / reasons for your infertility, your drug requirements as well as when to start or how flexible starting them can be, will vary too. STRESS.

Here are some things I tried, which you can try too, in order to get the fertility drugs you may need if you are doing IVF Abroad. I recommend getting started on this process immediately, as doctors appointments, referrals, waiting for approvals (then getting rejected), ordering online, waiting for shipping time, etc., will all add a lot of time to your pre-treatment process.

Depending on which international clinic you choose, they may have other, specific suggestions for your specific location (Barbados hadn’t really had a lot of Alberta patients before, but a lot of people have come from Toronto), or you may be lucky and be able to get fertility drugs bought and shipped online to you (this was not an option for us during our go at IVF). 

  1. Turns out even if you choose to do IVF Abroad, you can pay your local clinic to do “satellite” clinic services for you. This means they can rewrite / co-sign your prescriptions and do your baseline ultrasound (for a fee). This in theory should have made the process seamless, but as mentioned, they wouldn’t prescribe two drugs for me (prednisone and lovenox, a blood thinner), so the service I got was pretty inconsistent.
  2. You can order fertility drugs online, but sometimes there may be issues getting it to Canada. This would have been a really easy option had it been guaranteed we could get it—they do SHIP to Canada, but the Barbados Fertility Centre wasn’t sure if customs would release it for us. There are some Canadian online pharmacies that carry the drugs, but also won’t ship to you if you don’t have a Canadian doctor rewrite or co-sign the prescription. 
  3. There are generally some pharmacies in town who work with international fertility clinics—in Edmonton, the Glengarry Pharmacy was recommended many times and were really nice when I called to inquire, saying they had worked with the Barbados clinic before. You’d think that would mean, great! No issues getting drugs, but they still required a Canadian doctor to rewrite or co-sign the prescription and in this case, my doctor(s) would not do it.
  4. Someone had suggested getting a lawyer to draft up a document that indicates you won’t hold your family doctor liable if anything happens from drug use, as a method to convince your doctor to sign off on the prescription—this could work but of course, more money, and also, why does it have to be complicated? 
  5. I did try seeing if Canadian doctors through digital health apps would be more receptive to signing off on the Barbados prescription but alas, they also said no.
  6. Others had suggested heading to drop-in clinics / medi centres and seeing which doctors there would be willing to co-sign or rewrite the prescription. This may yield results—if y0u’ve got the time. I did NOT have the time to do this. 
  7. Confirm with your fertility centre what the absolute worst case scenario / back-up plans are if you aren’t able to get all of your drugs before you fly out or when you’re supposed to take them. If I had known from the start that it was fine to take my drugs later than initially suggested, I maybe would not have felt SO stressed leading up to the treatment but I didn’t ask until less than a month before our flight. Know what your back-up options are. 

Getting the drugs you need—aside from the cost of IVF abroad—is likely going to be your biggest obstacle if you want to do a Procreation Vacation.