Jeimy Pedraza, Laboratory Director of Instituto Ingenes, discusses with Mexico Health Review the fertility issues affecting Mexican men and women.
Q: What are the main fertility issues in Mexico?
A: Approximately, 15 percent of the Mexican population has fertility issues. Among the infertile population, we include couples who have tried for one year to conceive a baby through sexual relations without success. Fifty percent of the causes of infertility among couples are due to the woman, 30 percent are related to the man and 20 percent are a result of combined factors between the two. Among women, polycistic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause, which is common in Mexican women due to genetic or environmental factors. It expressed with irregular cycles, propensity to overweight and obesity and it is associated to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The second most common cause is endometriosis and the third is infertility caused by age. Other women look for our solutions because they have previously undergone a tube ligation surgery and wish to have children afterwards. As for men, the main causes of infertility are genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome, testicular cancer and environmental factors such as tobacco, drug and alcohol use or high exposure to radiation or chemicals.
Q: What is Ingenes’ added value compared to other clinics?
A: Any laboratory can buy technology, but without adequate experience investment means nothing. Through the correct education of our staff, we will be able to acquire the technology and provide professional expertise. We are always looking to participate in international-learning opportunities and every year we are seek to be audit by international entities, one of the experts that audit us is Dr. Juergen Liberman, director of the Fertility Center of Illinois. We invest a lot in infrastructure, technology and training to prepare the best specialists in assisted reproduction, to provide the best services in all of our branches and we follow strict security measures regarding the protection of the identity of the gametes and embryos for our patients.
Q: What is your client profile and which services do they require the most?
A: Most of our patients are infertile women with a history of failed treatments in other centers and older patients that seek for our services not only due to their difficulty to conceive, but because they want to avoid the risk of having a baby with a genetic disease. We also help couples who are not sterile but who want their baby to be of a certain gender to create a gender balance in their family. Instituto Ingenes also provides solutions for people who want to preserve their fertility and choose to store their eggs or sperm. Currently, Ingenes develops around 4,000 treatments in its plant of Santa Fe, in Mexico City; however, we also offer integral solutions in our sites of Guadalajara, Monterrey and Merida. Our goal is to establish more offices, so we can reach the entire the Mexican population.
Q: Fertility solutions are luxury procedures. What can be done to make them available for more people?
A: There is not much public health investment in fertility and what is available is not very complex. The technology in the public sector does not compare to that offered by a private institution. Fertility treatments might seem expensive but you have to put in perspective all the investment in infrastructure, technology and human capital behind these types of services. At Ingenes, we offer a variety of financial options to patients. One is BEC Facil, in which the patient first pay only part of the program, while we prepare the embryos to avoid any further problems associated to the maternal age during that time. When the patient has the economic resources to pay for the rest of the program we proceed to transfer the embryos that were previously saved. We also have a category of product called BEC Plus, insured programs that were to guarantee that if the couple or patient is not able to get pregnant, we return the investment.
Q: What would be the right preventive approach?
A: Delayed maternity is among the most important factors affecting the fertility of women due to the deterioration of eggs caused by age. Therefore, we must raise awareness and inform women about the existence of technologies that help them prevent the aging of their gametes.