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Apparently there exists a phenomenon called the IVF tourist. My first thought when informed of this was of someone in golf pants and white joggers doing tours of IVF clinics during their annual leave. The kind of tourist who’s bored with monuments and wants an ‘experience’.

Maybe they had guides showing them from room to room. ‘And here is the room where it all happens and that’s the stirrup chair. What, the guy in the white coat? He’s the embryologist. You wanna photo with him? Sure, wait till he brings the blastocyst up on screen…’

Actually I had it wrong. An IVF tourist is someone undergoing IVF who chooses to do it in a vacation spot. Greece is one of the more popular ones if the marketing can be believed. Here you can have it all, really – embryo transfers, ultrasounds, ruins, and sun and sea all in the one package.

And who can resist an IVF clinic in a quaint stone village? Or a donkey ride up a cobbled
alley before the Egg Extraction?

How about a set of worry beads to help you through the two week wait? Getting your pregnancy test result at a taverna with a jug of ouzo handy in case it’s negative? There are so many plusses I can hardly stand it.

Right. But where do I go to organize this? My travel agent? Or do I buy the plane tickets direct from the IVF clinic? Hmm, this is all a bit unusual.

How about the accommodation – is it attached to the IVF clinic, part of the same complex? ‘Oh you’ll be staying in the luxury Hellenic Fertility Villas, breakfast buffet and blood tests included.’

‘Great but what about the ultrasounds?’

‘For them to be included you’ll have to upgrade to our Deluxe Infertility Package which also includes donkey transfers to and from the clinic.’

‘Fabulous, where do I sign up?’

Then of course you have to start packing – so much to take. Bathers, pessaries, pads, sun cream, what if you forget something crucial? It’s not as if you can pop home for it. It’s bad enough packing for normal holidays but IVF ones – well.

And of course the airline is one of those budget ones with one kilo of hand baggage and ten kilos of check-in between you. So you have to discard almost all of your clothes as the IVF ice box with all the preliminary drugs that you received weighs more that the hand baggage limit on Aristotle Air.

You’d forgotten what it was like getting through airports these days with all the security
measures and what should be a simple three and a half hour flight (they forgot to mention the ten hour transit in Athens) turns into almost a twenty-four hour ordeal.

By the time you reach the villa you’re exhausted, shattered. But you have a week to recover before the egg retrieval and you realize you’re going to need it. Now if only that rooster that seems to have stationed itself beneath your window (it’s 3am) will shut up.

By 6am you know that after your IVF holiday you’re going to need a holiday…

by Jodi Panayotov author of 'In Vitro Fertility Goddess'

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