Why do patients from Australia go to Europe for IVF with donor eggs?

Ruth Sánchez, MD
Gynecologist & Obstetrician , UR Vistahermosa

Donor Eggs, IVF Abroad

Why do patients from Australia go to Europe for IVF
From this video you will find out:
  • What factors make Spain a favorable destination for egg donation IVF treatment?
  • How do the costs of IVF with donor eggs in Spain compare to those in Australia?
  • What are the key differences between egg donation in Europe and egg donation in Australia?

Why do Australians go to Europe for egg donation IVF?

If you live in Australia or outside Europe and are looking to have IVF egg donation treatment, this webinar is definitely for you. Watch the video recording to see the presentation and the Q&A session with our expert. Our guest webinar speaker was an experienced doctor, Dr. Ruth Sánchez from the Reproduction Unit at Clínica Vistahermosa in Spain.

If you wish to know more about your IVF egg donation options in Europe and how Australian patients can benefit from ART treatment in Spain, contact the Reproduction Unit of Clínica Vistahermosa and begin your journey to parenthood.

IVF with donor eggs  in Europe vs IVF with donor eggs in Australia

Travelling overseas for fertility treatments is becoming a more popular and realistic option for many individuals who are trying to become parents. Whilst it may initially feel overwhelming and logistically terrifying, it is reassuring to know that foreign clients account for up to 50% of all patients in European clinics. When thinking about travelling it is usually assumed that clients will live in one European country and travel within Europe for treatment, however, what about patients on the other side of the world?

In this webinar, Dr Ruth Sanchez, Gynaecologist at the Reproduction Unit of Clinica Vistahermosa in Alicante, Spain, discusses why patients from Australia are coming to Europe for IVF with donated oocytes (eggs).

Egg donation IVF cannot be performed in all countries as when it comes to fertility treatments there is no worldwide governing, regulatory body. Instead, each country has its own specific laws pertaining to the various forms of assisted reproduction carried out. The Spanish legal system does allow IVF, with donated oocytes, and Spain was actually the first country in Europe which created definitive laws surrounding the treatment. In addition, sperm and pre-embryo donations are also permitted. Single mothers and homosexual couples, who are looking to conceive with the use of donor eggs, can legally undergo IVF in Spain, and clinics are authorised to vitrify oocytes and ovarian tissue for fertility preservation.

To proceed with egg donation IVF in Spain donors are required to be between the ages of 18 and 35. They should be healthy and thoroughly screened. Donations must be anonymous and altruistic, although an economic compensation is permitted. Dr Sanchez advises that at Clinica Vistahermosa the success rates, for egg donation IVF, are between 65-70% on a first cycle, 80% on a second and 90% following three rounds of treatment. For IVF when using a patient’s own oocytes, a success rate of between 25-60% would be expected, depending on maternal age.

Despite not having a countrywide regulatory body, it is mandatory for fertility clinics in Spain to be included on the SEF (Spanish Fertility Society) national register and undergo external audits.

As clinics in Spain are usually located within hospitals, they tend to have a multidisciplinary outlook, meaning patients can be attended to for every need under one roof. This is especially important when it comes to genetics. Spanish clinics are now able to carry out all the genetic testing techniques currently in existence. Dr. Sanchez stresses the importance of genetic counselling and how it can lead to better diagnosis, improved individualised treatment and increased assistance in decision making, for patients.

Advanced technologies in the medical reproductive field have greatly increased the outcome of successful pregnancy rates, following IVF, and the most progressive technology is present in most fertility centres across Spain. Spanish clinics also perform a whole range of assisted reproduction techniques including ICSI, PGS (pre-genetic screening), PGT-A (preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies) and vitrification of eggs, sperm and embryos.

When looking at the costs of treatment, Dr Sanchez advises that Australian patients could potentially save between 30-70% when compared to the prices in their own country.

She explains that at Clinica Vistahermosa there are no hidden costs; the price you see is what you pay. Costs typically include additional treatments such as; blastocyst cultivation and transfer, time lapse incubators and all donor medications.

Most Spanish clinics typically have an International department that communicates with all overseas patients. Staff can arrange transfers and transportation, accommodation and any additional requests; they are there to support clients throughout the whole treatment experience. Customer service is high and medical staff is fluent in many languages. At Clinica Vistahermosa patients are provided with the opportunity to speak to someone in their own tongue, 24/7.

Whilst the thought of travelling so far may feel incredibly daunting, Dr Sanchez assures potential clients that undergoing egg donation IVF in Spain ensures the most effective treatments are performed in a personalised way. Clinica Vistahermosa’s aim is to reduce the levels of anxiety whilst offering a wide range of up to date procedures and technologies. Alongside world class treatment there is also the Mediterranean climate, which is great for relaxing in, after any surgical procedure!

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- Questions and Answers

What age can IVF donor treatment go up to?

Legally till 35 years old but in our clinics, most of the donors are under 30 years old because the age is very important but legally it’s until 35 years old. I mean, this is the age of the donors. I don’t know if you are talking about the age of the recipient. For the recipients it’s a question that is talked about a lot because in Spain there is no limit but each center has to set an ethical limit so in our clinic we set it at the age of menopause, which is 51–52 years old, so in our clinic after about 52 years old we don’t do any reproduction treatment.

So would you do this for a 51-year-old?

Well, it’s within the limits so it depends on the person and that’s really important. When a woman is 51 years old but has diabetes, hypertension and is overweight and so on so, then we would have to study the case and give them the best advice but it is within the limits.

Can health tests be done in Spain?

Yes, we can do all the health tests but we try to encourage the couplers do the testing in their own country so we can save them some trips, but we can do all types of health tests here.

Is there a way to get oocytes fertilised in Spain, vitrify the embryos on day 5 and then transport them to Australia for frozen embryo transfer?

That’s a difficult thing. We don’t sell embryos and we don’t start oocytes and it’s a very difficult thing to transport biological material so we don’t do that. We also do the embryo transfer because it’s very important for us that the success rate that we have is from doing the transfer here because the transfer technique is very important, as is the embryo environment. Time-lapse is a factor, so if we have to transport to another country we spoil the good environment for the embryo so we avoid such things. We would prefer to transport the couple than transport the embryo. In most of the cases, we do the transfer with fresh embryos.

I saw on the presentation that you guarantee 8 mature eggs. Have you got any other guarantees? I mean, embryos on day 3 or 5?

No. The number of eggs is approximate because it depends on the semen that we use because if we use the couple’s sperm and it’s not very good then perhaps we cannot guarantee 8 mature eggs. We have a minimum of 6. Normally we have 8. It depends on the case, but the minimum is almost always 6.

What is the point of using time-lapse embryo monitoring as I read in many places that the time-lapse is more like a nice gift in the form of a video recording of embryo development than a real help for selecting embryos?

Well, it’s not like a gift or a video recording. It’s a very important thing that has increased the success rates because we have more information that helps us to select the embryos and also we always keep the embryos in the same environment. We don’t take the embryos out of the incubator to check them and then put them back inside the incubator, so with the time-lapse we don’t have to keep taking them in and out. We always maintain the same environment and this is so important for the embryos and we can observe the whole development and know the behaviour of the embryos and that’s really important when choosing which embryo to transfer.

Do you have a maximum age for using the partner’s sperm?

No, there is no maximum age, but with age, the quality gets worse — the same as with women.

How long before transfer should I maximise healthy eating etc?

I don’t understand the question very well but it’s important to eat healthily always, not just before the transfer.

Do you have African donors?

Yes, we have donors from all areas, including Africa. Unfortunately, I cannot say from which parts of Africa they are from because that’s anonymous. You’re not allowed to see photos in Spain either because the donations are anonymous. We can only provide details of the blood type, age and phenotype but we can’t show any photos or anything more because it’s anonymous by law.

Do you use an embryoscope or any other equipment? And is there a difference between them? Some clinics use an embryoscope and some use GERI, which is popular in Australia.

Yes, we have embryoscope, GERI and time-lapse machines. They are more or less the same. It depends from the people who work with them who may be more accustomed to one or another of them. We have all the possibilities here and we work with all of them.

What about uterine lining and implantation window? How is it managed if I don’t want to come to Spain for a long time? I’d like to fly for the embryo transfer for a few days.

You can do a test in your own country so you can come with the protocol of treatment that we sent you. We tell you the days when you have to do an ultrasound and you can send us the results as well as the photos or images from the ultrasound so it’s not necessary to come here to do it. Then we only need to schedule and consult the day of the transfer as long as you have a person there who can give us all the information we need.

Can I send the frozen sperm of my partner as it’s impossible to bring him with me? Is it possible to conduct the whole program without my partner as he can’t come with me?

Yes, that’s possible because in Spain you can send it and you can send all the tests that we need from him so it’s not necessary for him to come with you. All we have is the sperm, the tests and the signed agreement on the consent form.
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Ruth Sánchez, MD

Ruth Sánchez, MD

Dr. Ruth Sánchez has been working as a gynecologist at Clinica Vistahermosa since 2000. She has been an attending physician in the Gynecology & Obstetrics Dept. at the General Hospital of Elda (Alicante) and has been treating patients as a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, at the hospital since 2015. Dr. Sánchez obtained her medical degree from the University of Alicante in 1995. She has published many articles, publications, and delivered many talks at various Congresses on Assisted Reproduction and Gynecology. She is also a member of scientific associations such as the Spanish Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Ultrasound Section of the Spanish Society of Gynecology, Valencian Community Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Obstetrics and Spanish Fertility Society.
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