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IVF is nowadays the most popular route to overcome fertility problems for patients worldwide. In the search for best treatment options, many of them is looking for medical help outside their home countries. There are different and complex reasons for such a decision, including personal, social or financial factors.
People planning to undergo IVF abroad are often motivated by more flexible assisted reproductive technologies (ART) legal regulations, higher success rates, shorter waiting times and convenience of some overseas clinics. And – last but not least – the money. In fact, it is the decisive factor in many cases. It is well known that IVF treatment prices may differ significantly depending on whether you choose to be treated in Western Europe or, e.g., in one of the former Eastern Bloc countries.
However, planning IVF abroad requires scrupulous preparation. Before you even start comparing different foreign IVF clinics, you will need to decide on a country first. And there is a lot to consider. Although it might seem obvious, many patients happen to forget that fertility treatment is not regulated in the same way in every foreign country. So choosing an appropriate country for your own treatment has to be proceeded by a thorough analysis of the country’s IVF laws and regulations. And that’s just the beginning.
Here are the basic questions you should find answers to when planning your IVF treatment: abroad:
Is IVF legal in the country of your choice?
Assuming you are taking into account countries listed as top IVF destinations, the IVF treatment has to be legal there. However, it is always good to know what the basic law of in vitro fertilisation in a given country is and it is more than advisable to get familiar with it ahead. Apart from that, you should also try to find out what laws and regulations fertility clinics in the country of your choice have to comply with and check if the information on accredited clinics is made available online. In order to learn this, you may contact the Ministry of Health in your chosen destination or download our IVF Abroad Guide (link here).
What are the IVF treatment options the country allows for? Who are they for?
So you know that IVF is an officially recognised fertility treatment method in the country you’ve chosen – now you have to learn if it is suitable for you. For example, Spain and North Cyprus are famous for theirmost liberal laws concerning Assisted Reproduction Technology – they allow a wide range of treatment options that can be accessed by both heterosexual and homosexual couples. And you have to be aware that the latter is still not common among top IVF destinations. So if you are interested in undergoing IVF treatment with your same-sex partner (or as a single mum!), make sure you are a desired patient in the country of your choice.
What about the legal age limit?
Patients’ sexual orientation may be one of the restrictions when it comes to the accessibility of IVF treatment – another one is maternal age. Although Spain is one of the most tolerant IVF destinations, it does set a legal limit when it comes to the age of a female patient qualified for assisted reproduction – and it is 50 years old. North Cyprus, on the other hand, can boast one of the highest age limits for IVF: 58 years old for a woman and 65 years old for a man. Another interesting case is Latvia where there is no upper age limit at all. The decision whether a patient should be given the green light to IVF treatment or not is made by each clinic individually.
Is egg and sperm donation anonymous or not? Are you ok with that?
If it turns out that egg donation is the right form of treatment for you, you will need to decide whether you prefer it to be anonymous or not. And then the choice of the foreign country may depend solely on this factor. While in some countries donor anonymity is enforced by law, there are such (as e.g. Russia) that allow non-anonymous donation treatments as well. This all depends on the law regulating fertility treatments in a given country. Make sure you are well-informed of all the available options and the consequences they entail. Additionally, try to find out what are the
mandatory screening tests on egg donors during the qualification process required by the law in
the country of your choice.
Is the potential cost of treatment within your budget?
Ok, let’s face it: the most important factor that motivates fertility patients to seek medical help abroad is money. IVF treatment costs vary from country to country and then, they may also be different among different clinics. The most important rule to bear in mind when thinking of IVF treatment abroad is: cheap never means good. So even if your budget is limited, do not choose the cheapest clinic in, let’s say, one of the TOP 3 IVF destinations ever. Do the opposite: research which of the less popular and more affordable countries offers high standards of care and impressive success rates – and choose a more expensive clinic there. For example, if you have a budget of EUR 6,500, you can choose either a cheaper IVF clinic in Spain or a more expensive one in Ukraine or the Czech Republic. And the quality of treatment you’ll get will be probably much the same.
Are there easy and cheap transport links to that country?
When summing up the costs, do not forget about the money you will have to pay for travel and accommodation. If you go abroad for fertility treatment, you’ll need to arrange and pay for flights, hotels, food and drink, transfers and travel insurance. So make sure that all these additional costs will not significantly increase the overall cost of your IVF treatment. That’s why it is good to check if e.g. the foreign clinic you’ve chosen is located in a city that is easy to get to by budget airlines. In order to lower the costs, patients sometimes decide to choose a country where they would be eager to go on a vacation. Although the circumstances of IVF treatment are rarely associated with relaxation, it is not a bad idea to find some peace of mind in this rather stressful time, is it?
Where can you check the official success rates?
Apart from the costs, clinics’ success rates are another decisive factor for many fertility patients. However, you have to aware that the success of IVF treatment rarely depends on the clinic itself – it is simply the sum of different circumstances, such as a patient’s age, medical history or genetic factors. You have to do your own research and contact the clinic of your choice beforehand to talk about your individual success prognosis. And if you still have doubts, take a look at the latest report by ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology). It is currently the most reliable source of information on European clinics’ treatment efficacy. It allows you to compare the clinics’ advertised success rates with the national average performance in a given country and check how much they differ.
Summing up: when you’re thinking of IVF abroad, there are a lot of choices to be made, aren’t there? You always have to consider all pros and cons of such a solution and choose the option that is the most suitable for you. However, if you still feel that there are just too many factors to compare, watch one of our webinars! It’s always a good idea to meet best IVF experts and get a second opinion before you go.