Selecting a fertility clinic that you will be comfortable with, a clinic that boasts high pregnancy rates, employs English-speaking coordinators and friendly, experienced doctors can be a daunting task. Especially when you are considering infertility treatment abroad. We have invited Dr Laura García de Miguel
to tell you more about the process of selecting an IVF clinic. What is important? Are pregnancy rates the main deciding factor? Does cheap IVF cycle mean poor quality treatment and expensive program ensures success? Watch the webinar recording above to find out the answers to these questions.
How to choose the right IVF clinic?
IVF is an incredibly frightening road to embark upon and the prospect of choosing a clinic can often leave patients feeling overwhelmed, full of questions and uncertain about where to go. With the popularity of overseas treatments rising it can be confusing for clients to even know how to begin finding a clinic, let alone understand what exactly they should be looking for to ensure a high level of service is adhered to.
In this webinar, Dr Laura Garcia de Miguel, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and Medical Director of Clinic Tambre in Madrid, outlines the most important factors patients need to contemplate when choosing a fertility clinic abroad.
The first consideration is how much experience a clinic has. Patients should be looking for a medical centre which has been practicing for over twenty years and carries out frequent treatments.
It is usually expected that Doctors and Embryologists will have at least 5-10 years of experience and be educated to Master’s Degree level. Good doctors will also have specific training in reproductive techniques and Embryologists, across Europe, will have an ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) certificate.
When researching a clinic’s laboratory patients should enquire how many embryologists there are and whether it is an appropriate number for the amount of cycles the clinic performs. It is also worthwhile finding out whether the team specialise in genetics and if they offer additional treatments such as blastocyst biopsies. It is crucial to understand what technologies are available, and what impact these may have upon a positive treatment outcome.
For instance, time-lapse incubators
are associated with increased pregnancy rates as they provide around the clock imaging with uninterrupted culture conditions; embryologists do no need to remove the cells to look at their progress. As a result, it is thought that the use of a time-lapse incubator provides a better chance of having a blastocyst (day-five embryo) transfer. It’s the same with PGS (preimplantation genetic screening)
, if clinics can provide a blastocyst screening process then only euploid (chromosomally healthy) embryos are selected for transfer, which can then reduce the risk of implantation issues and/or early miscarriage.
Dr Garcia de Miguel always advises choosing a clinic which practices ‘double checking’, this is where two embryologists check the same embryo at every step of the process. ‘Witness’ or other similar clinic systems are also advisable, as these detect and monitor all activity within the lab. Personal barcoded ID cards should always be provided, again to help prevent any possible errors which have the potential to occur.
If clients are requiring either egg or sperm donation IVF
then it is important to understand how many donors are available and whether there is a waiting list, specifically for fresh oocytes (eggs). Patients should also confirm the donor recruitment criteria, what screening processes are used and whether fresh and/or frozen gametes are being advertised or can be obtained for treatment. Dr Garcia de Miguel recommends that for an egg donation program, clients should not go to clinics which regularly transfer multiple embryos, and that success rates should be in the region of 65% per transfer. She advises the best clinics typically guarantee at least one good quality blastocyst, per cycle.
All clinics are fully aware that patients are influenced by success rate statistics, which is why it is essential to research and fully comprehend any data. In Spain, results should be audited by a third party and reported to the Fertility Society.
Dr Garcia de Miguel would expect that, in general, a good clinic’s success rate will be above 40% for IVF and above 65% when PGS is used. Again, her recommendation is to avoid clinics which repeatedly transfer more than one embryo as standard.
Dr Garcia de Miguel stresses the importance of using a clinic with a multi-disciplinary team. Clients should enquire what range of treatments are performed, at the clinic, and whether specific units, such as urology, psychology and immunology are available. As every person and their fertility is unique, the knowledge amassed in multi-disciplinary clinics enables patients to be treated more as individuals, rather than simply taking a standardised approach to treatment.
Finally, a good IVF clinic abroad is likely to have a patient care department available
to help clients with every aspect of the process, including airport transfers and assistance with booking hotels close to the medical centre. It’s also key that staff are fluent in other languages and are prepared to offer multiple ways of contact, from Skype to phone calls, email and What’s App. Whilst infertility is a business and science, Dr. Garcia de Miguel reminds us that the human approach must not be forgotten. It’s imperative clinics remember patients are real people; people who are undergoing difficult treatments for the chance to, one day, hopefully, become a parent.