A Day in Tijuana

We left our house later than expected, racing along I-5 towards the border. Clutched in my lap were maps to two clinics in Tijuana. The first one Reproductive Medicine Institute was in El Centro and not far from San Ysidro border crossing. We immediately got lost and had to ask for directions. Eventually, we found ourselves 30 minutes late and nestled into the doctors office.

The place matched the pictures online, except for the name of the clinic. IMER was the name on the doctor’s card and this did make me feel a little bit suspicious. But the doctor, Dra. Sandra Orendain Talavera, seemed professional yet friendly. Her English was quite good and my husband’s Spanish filled in the gaps. She reviewed my tests, gave me a thorough ultrasound, and promptly recommended IVF. This time I was ready. I mean, we had come just for that reason.

After going over the procedure (roughly 20 days) and asking all of our many questions, we were then sent to the accountant’s office for the bill. The amount was expected ($7,000 with medication). We left trying not to make any rash judgements. I did feel myself become excited. So far the office was clean, the doctor seemed good, and the price was affordable. My husband wasn’t exactly sold, and this I left unspoken.

We decided to leave our car in the parking garage, instead of navigating Tijuana’s busy streets. We promptly hailed a cab (a white one, without a meter). We told him where we wanted to go and he quoted a price of 100 pesos. Of course, we were getting ripped off; but this is the way of traveling in a foreign land at first. The other clinic was located closer to all the big hotels in town and next to a fancy mall that looked made more for the night than for day shoppers.

The new clinic, inside the Hospital del Prado was busy. We were sent to the fourth floor and found ourselves in Centro de Fertilidad Del Prado. This clinic was smaller with less locals lining the waiting room, but there was the smell of fresh coffee and the smiling face of Alexandra, the receptionist. Within minutes I found myself being weighed by an efficient nurse who used a clipboard like a shield. Eventually, we were called into Dra. Elena’s office for a consultation. Her English skills were definitely much better than my Spanish skills, and she primarily communicated with Cristian in Spanish. In many ways this was positive (even though, I had a hard time following the conversation) because it really helped Cristian to understand the process. Up until the first doctor’s appointment, IVF seemed as something an alien uses to land on Earth.

Dra. Elena reviewed my lab tests and questioned the amount of sucrose in my blood. This piqued my interest, not in the least because diabetes was mentioned, but because perhaps she was really looking at my tests. I will have to be tested again. She gave me a short ultrasound, but she did take pictures to use later. I forgot to mention that in my previous appointment Dra. Talavera found 7 to 8 follicles and this really raised my hopes. This could mean the possibility of 8 eggs being harvested. The more eggs, the better chance at having quality embryos for transfer.

At the end of the consultation and IVF being the recommendation, Alexandra gave us a sheet all in Spanish listing the cost and what it included. Basically, the same as the first clinic, except they will include a FET transfer (without medication) if there are eggs leftover from the first cycle.

After the appointments, we left in a daze and walked towards the fancy mall. We quickly decided we wanted to eat like the locals and hailed another taxi. The taxi driver’s recommended the Mole House. Inside the Mole house, which was really a house complete with a piano in the corner, we were seated at a table for four, close to an older couple kissing.

The prices were average San Diego lunch prices and we hoped for a delicious offering. We then compared the clinics. Fortunately, both seemed like decent options. Unfortunately, this made the choice harder. The first one is a part of RedLara and the doctor gave a thorough ultrasound. And all the information was in English. The second clinic had more of a down-to-earth atmosphere and the doctor really seemed smart and analytical.

We have a tough choice.

Once we navigated the border, which brought to life all the NPR specials I had heard of long waits, vendors, and disabled people, we made it back to the U.S., marveling at how we had just navigated a foreign country less than an hour before. To our surprise Tijuana wasn’t a scary border town with renegade thieves trying to steal our goods, but a city alive with real people. In fact, we made a grave error by leaving our car past closing time in the parking garage and the owner waited for us to return. He even had gone to the clinic looking for us. Upon parking we had asked him for directions, so he knew where to possibly find us. His thoughtfulness was touching and one positive sign for the first clinic.

After a restless nights sleep, we decided to visit one more clinic in the San Diego area. HRC Fertility in Oceanside. http://www.havingbabies.com I had written this clinic off because of the distance, but now if I’m contemplating going to Tijuana, Oceanside seems close. Also the prices listed are half of the other clinics. Yet, this makes me leery because there is always more not included. Regardless, I’m going to pay the $315 consultation fee, just to make sure that Mexico is the way to go. I think this will put any lingering doubts at bay.

So, by the end of the week, we should have come to a conclusion.


20 thoughts on “A Day in Tijuana

  1. Did you already have your IVF procedure? If so, how did it go and are you pregnant? We just visited with Dr Sandra Orendain yesterday and are considering her for IVF also. Please respond.


  2. Thank you for writing this. I have been corresponding with IVF Tijuana (IMER) for nearly a year and am planning on heading south at the end of summer. I have been looking for any one else who has gone through them and their experiences because of course I am nervous! As the date approaches I am starting to wonder if I’m doing the right thing by leaving to go to Tijuana (for the majority of the trip alone) and if these people are reputable! I am in tears to read that you wer successful with them and it brings me great relief. Thank you and congratulations on your son


    • I was incredibly nervous, so I completely understand. IMER and Dr. Sandra Orendain are outstanding. The clinic isn’t fancy but rather down to earth and they really do care about you. They were never pushy about payment and always made me feel secure. I really hope you have the same experience. I will forever be thankful to them. I’m actually pregnant again; this time naturally. They kick-started my reproductive system, it seems. I’m going to pray/send all my good baby vibes your way. I really hope you hold your baby in your arms next year!!


  3. Hello,
    What didn’t you like from Centro de Fertilidad del Prado? I am looking into Imer but I haven’t found a lot of good reviews. I am on the deciding factor like you and I am overwhelmed. Any tips help…. Thank you


    • We didn’t choose them because their follow-up after the consultation was inconsistent, so it made us question them. Also, my Spanish isnt that great and the doctor didn’t speak English. I wanted to be able to communicate if my husband wasnt with me. He’s fluent in Spanish. I immediately liked IMER and felt comfortable. It was also successful for me. My son is now 15 months. I also did acupuncture at the same time and changed my diet. But who knows why it worked in the end. My experience with IMER was fantastic. I was blessed. I hope you’re too.


  4. Thank you for sharing your story & information on your experience! I am just starting out my research on IVF & am interested in Mexico because of the affordability but am concerned about the medical aspect. If you wouldn’t mind sharing more of your experience in regards to your IVF procedure. How was it? The follow up with clinic? How many embryos did you have transferred? Etc. thanks so much! It’s such an emotional & personal journey & struggle. Ashley


    • Hi Ashley, I’m sorry for the late response. It’s been a busy few weeks. Overall, my experience with IMER was really positive. The clinic isn’t fancy, but down to earth. And most of the clients seem to be locals, which for me is a good sign. My doctor spoke English and I felt really comfortable with her. I only ended up with 7 eggs, but there wasn’t a possibility of more from the very beginning. 3 fertilized and we transferred 2. The last one wasn’t strong enough to freeze. Actually only 1 made it to the highest grade and probably that is the one that worked. The follow up after the transfer was excellent and I felt that the care was as good or better than in the U.S. I never had a nurse or different nurses taking care of me. It was always the doctor and she was really warm. It was the best decision to have the procedure done there. The cost is excellent in comparison and the care is too. I was scared at first about crossing the border regularly but after a while I was a pro. In conjunction with the procedure, I regularly had acupuncture and ate extremely well. For me, diet played a huge role in my fertility. I was resistant to this for many years but as soon as I made dietary changes, positive mental changes occurred too. My son is now a year and half and I have a 3 month old as well. Our second child happened naturally. But it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone to IMER. I write all this knowing how emotional and scary it can be to embark on this journey. The struggles of fertility are real and heart wrenching. For me IMER was great. The doctor and the staff. I truly hope your journey results in the same. Amber


  5. Hi, I recently went and visited with Dr, Sandra Orendain (last month), my husband and I really liked her, we got all of our tests done, everything looks good, so far in my ultrasounds we have only seen one follicule each month, she recommended to start with IUI (Intrauterine insemination) 4 sessions and then if they are not successful move to IVF… I just think that I rather go straight to IVF instead of putting myself through all of the IUI process.. what are your thoughts? did you try IUI first prior IVF?


    • Hi Denise,

      I didn’t do IUI prior to IVF. I had low ovarian reserve so IUI wasn’t a good option for me. Or at least it wasn’t offered. Dr. Orendain is great. I loved her. I always felt completely comfortable and taken care of. I liked the small office and personal care from her rather than a nurse. My thoughts are to ask her why the IUI before the IVF. Are you a good candidate for it? Also, weigh that with the cost to start with one procedure and move to the next. If Also, go with your intuition. My entire IVF experience was like that for me. You know what’s right and what isn’t. I hope this helps. I recently wrote an article published on a parenting website about my infertility experience. https://www.parent.co/true-cost-infertility/ I’m also planning on writing a guide to IVF in Mexico because I really feel like more information needs to be available for people. I would love to hear more about your experience and process. You can always email me with any questions or to tell me how it’s going. amber@aroshay.com


  6. I just went to EMER yesterday (Saturday) for my consultation. I read your blog a month ago and because of your experience I chose to go with them. I got Dr Medina but he was amazing. I sometimes have doubts if I should of looked other places in tijuana. I came to re read your blog and felt calm again. I just needed reassurance lol what else can you share about your experience? Especially with retrieval and transfer.?


    • Congratulations! I read your comment and my heart soared for you. We only looked at two places in Tijuana and chose IMER. And we were right. Our son turns two this week. So, trust your instincts. I can answer any questions that you might have about retrieval/transfer/clinic. Send me an email at amber@aroshay.com I can’t wait to hear about your journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi! Glad I found this. I went to Imer did retrieval and 1 egg transfer. I had your gal as part of my retrieval process but saw medina mostly. Took 7 months off bc it was so tough emotionally. Glad to hear your story was a success xo


    • Hi Lauren! I just saw this comment. Basically, my diet changes included eating fruits, vegetables,and lean proteins. I limited pasta and bread. Basically, fill your body with real food. Limit the amount of sugar, fried food, and processed food. I stopped eating out as much and cooked more. I stopped thinking that I needed to eat certain foods to become fertile, but rather how can I eat as healthy as possible. I had to reevaluate how I looked at food. It’s really a daily battle, but it’s important because the healthier your body is, the better chance you give your body the chance it needs to conceive.


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