Kate Interviews Dr Jennifer Rayward
Many of my patients ask me about fertility treatments abroad – how they seek treatment abroad, the benefits and what’s involved. I recently met Dr Jennifer Rayward from ProcreaTec in Madrid and was blown away by her dedication, enthusiasm and passion. She is the MOST perfect lady to answer your questions on seeking fertility treatment abroad.
Kate: Jennifer please tell us a little about you and your clinic ProcreaTe
Jennifer: In 2008 Dr. Lourdes López Yáñez and I founded ProcreaTec. We had worked together at a big fertility clinic here in Madrid and both felt passion for Assisted Reproduction but did not like the way we were working at the time. We were tired of not being able to follow our patients closely due to the number of consultations we had scheduled per day, and were also tired of not being able to decide on research projects and the technology we wanted to use. So we founded ProcreaTec on two ideas: we wanted to be able to give our patients the individualized care that we feel fertility patients need and have cutting edge technology.
Kate: Why should women and couples consider travelling abroad for treatment?
Jennifer: Assisted Reproduction laws are different in Spain. In general, egg donation is a lot easier although it has the drawback for some patients that it is anonymous. At ProcreaTec, we do not have a waiting list and we try to accommodate our patients when the timing is comfortable for them. Also most of our treatment prices are lower than in the UK.
Kate: Thanks Jennifer – I frequently get asked this question and I’m sure my readers will find your answer very useful. Especially the bit about no waiting list!
Kate: What makes ProcreaTec different to other fertility clinics abroad?
Jennifer: As I mentioned earlier, our passion for our patients and technology make us stand out amongst clinics our size. We have an enthusiastic and well-trained team to give our patients the support they need on their path to parenthood. We also have technology like the EmbryoScope to offer and we believe in Blastocyst Single Embryo transfer when possible to enable our patients to have the highest chance at conceiving a singleton pregnancy. We use the latest techniques in Genetics to screen preventable diseases.
Kate: What should couples consider when seeking fertility treatments abroad?
Jennifer: The most important things for me are: first and foremost pregnancy rates, then the technology they can offer especially if your case is difficult and you have been struggling for years. Look at the CV’s of the staff and see how long they have been working in fertility. Another thing that is well publicized by any clinic that has gone through the evaluation is Quality Assurance. It is a process that takes months if not a year to secure with continual assessment and this is pretty much a guarantee of high quality standards. ISO 9001 is the quality assurance ProcreaTec has. Then the one deal breaker or maker, essential for every patient I feel, is their relationship with their doctor and the personnel at the clinic. There is nothing that makes me happier than a thank you note from a patient telling me how wonderful our staff is.
Kate: From talking to you today, I can really see that the patient is at the heart of all you do.
Kate: What is the typical profile of women and couples who seek advice from you?
Jennifer: Well there is certainly not a unique profile! We have patients from all walks of life. They come to us with many different issues. To give you a few examples some patients from the UK are of Spanish descent and are looking for an egg donor or sperm donor from their country of origin, others need specific genetic tests that are more easily done in Spain others come because they have heard of us by a patient who had a successful treatment with us. We are privileged to be able to serve a diverse group of patients.
Kate: If a couple decided to start treatment with you, how often would they need to travel to Madrid?
Jennifer: With technology, we can do a first consultation via SKYPE, FaceTime or Google Hangout so we only really need to have them with us once they start treatment- everything else can be arranged via e-mail.
Kate: Skype is fabulous and it is good to see that like me, you embrace technology and new ways of working.
Kate: Jennifer what is your take on the belief that a woman’s fertility declines rapidly at 35? Do you think that’s true for all women?
Jennifer: Kate, there are no absolutes in Medicine and we can have a very fertile woman at 40 but that is definitely the exception. In general, fertility is optimum in the twenties and the decrease is constant but slow into the early thirties. By the mid-thirties fertility begins to decrease significantly and by forty the chances become scarcer as the months go by. By 42 or 43, even in a fertility clinic, the chances of getting pregnant with the patient’s own eggs are minimal. The problem is we can perform some tests and get an idea of what your fertility looks like at one moment in time. Those tests as I say, give us an idea, but not until you try to get pregnant that we know the real potential. Another crucial fact is when we preform the tests; they are only valid for that moment in time…six months later the entire hormonal situation could change. The tests are not able to predict future fertility.
Kate: Do you think there is anything a woman can do to “protect” her fertility?
Jennifer: I am a firm believer that if you eat correctly, sleep at least 8 hours, do not live a stressful life, don’t smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs and you exercise, your chances of getting pregnant are going to be higher than if you abuse your body. There are interesting studies that have been published over the past year on lifestyle. The interesting thing is they are now talking about lifestyle not only as an adult but also the importance of the lifestyle in the womb, as a baby, an adolescent and a young adult. My intuition is that even though lifestyle is very difficult to study, it is going to become more and more important when we talk about reasons for subfertility or infertility.
Kate: I couldn’t agree more. I passionately believe that we should be getting this message across to young women when they are at an age BEFORE they are considering their future fertility. I’m always on my soap box about the subject!
Kate: I often see in UK clinics that there is a lack of emotional support for women and couples. What support do you offer your patients?
We have a psychologist at the clinic who works with not only our patients but who also performs the psychological testing on potential donors. And since we have patients all over the world, we have set up a network of fertility coaches and psychologists that are well-trained in our specialty who help our patients through their treatments locally or via SKYPE. Actually, that is how you and I got to meet!
Kate: We certainly did and I look forward to our ongoing partnership!