Are you struggling because your IVF treatment is on hold because of Coronavirus?

Sandra Bateman
CEO of National Fertility Society, National Fertility Society
Joanne Carwardine
Chief Executive of National Fertility Society , National Fertility Society

Emotions and Support

Are you struggling? Your IVF cycle is on hold because of Coronavirus? #IVFWEBINAR
From this video you will find out:
  • how the National Fertility Society operates and helps patients
  • coping mechanisms you can use to help you during this difficult time
  • options for fertility treatment in the UK (on the NHS) and abroad


Are you struggling because your IVF treatment is on hold because of Coronavirus?

Where to receive mental support when struggling with your IVF treatment being delayed?

Has your IVF treatment been put on hold? Are you struggling to cope? Watch the webinar with Sandra Bateman, Senior Accredited Fertility Counsellor, the CEO of the National Fertility Society (UK) and the Manager to Louise Brown (The World’s First IVF Baby) and Joanne Carwardine, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Fertility Society (UK) and BACP Reg. MBACP (Accred) Counsellor Supervisor.

Where to receive mental support when struggling with your IVF treatment being delayed? - Questions and Answers

I am getting very distressed. My transfer was cancelled in April. I will be 43 in August. I’m running out of time. My next transfer will be our sixth with donor eggs in the Czech Republic. I’m losing hope now of being a mum.

That’s very sad but if you’re using donor eggs and you’re going abroad to the Czech Republic, but your age is not as crucial as if you were trying to use your own eggs. You do have a little bit more time in that respect if that can be of any solace to you. I mean the key thing here is that you’re keeping yourself fit and well. Prepare to go back to the Czech Republic, because as I was saying, we’ve spoken to one clinic yesterday and they haven’t opened their borders yet. They are starting to prepare to open their borders and hopefully it won’t be much longer for you. In the meantime, we have added that the donors in the Czech Republic are planning to start in May.

Do the counsellors do it that you recommend specialize in fertility counselling or are they, general counsellors?

All of our websites are specialists fertility counsellors. They’ve had a full lot of training, so they know what you’re going through. They were general counsellors before they came into our training so they’re very well-qualified and have worked in many different fields. And what they’ve done is they’ve come and done their training with us to add another string to their bow so that they can actually work within the fertility field, because we have been highlighting to the counselling world that there are a lot of gaps in training with fertility counselling and they will definitely be important. There are a lot of people out there that need a specialist counselling and haven’t been able to have it. We can’t stress enough that all of our counsellors will give you a free counselling session even if you just use them that one hour.

I’m 45 and went to Spain in mid-February for consultation regarding donor eggs. The clinic is currently closed. The option of egg donors is unlikely for a time as I’ve only heard that treatment will go ahead with frozen eggs when clinics reopen.

Now the clinics that are abroad are going to have frozen donor eggs in the freezer. It will be the fresh ones that they will have to build up. That probably won’t start in Spain until about June. That’s information that we lack. They have had equal success with frozen eggs though. It tends to be a clinic preference. Some clinics like to use frozen eggs, other clinics like to use fresh and we’ve heard good results with both. We’re fairly impartial, to be honest. It depends on patients and their preferences.

Which of these clinics have the highest success rates?

One of the ones in Greece and one of the ones in Spain. We have favourites, we’re not going to lie. There are two clinics that actually everyone we’ve sent there at the moment has been successful. And you know there is a very good doctor who knows what he does. He’s an amazing doctor and really does look after our patient. He is the only one that has got every one of them pregnant, twelve of our patients so far in two years. But what’s fabulous about him is, if we’ve got anybody who has struggled or had a number of cycles elsewhere or has any problems like endometriosis or anything like that, that particular clinic is very good with what we would class as the difficult cases. To the point where he actually asks for them. He relishes in the challenge, I think. And he is a typical Greek man, in fact, that all he cares about is the family. His clinic is actually a small Family Clinic where he has his family work beside him. He is all about family. It’s a really really lovely area and it’s really to go to.

What’s the ratio of clinics that you reject versus accept?

It’s about 50%. On Facebook, we have got 10. I’m not looking to add any more to that list. I can tell you we have been good enough. We’ve got fed up of travelling everywhere to actually when we’ve got very good clinics doing what we want them to do. There’s no point looking and getting somewhere and it is a disappointment. The ones we have gone to since we have these clinics would not meet up to their standards either. That’s why they’ve been rejected. As I say, if we wouldn’t send our daughter, we’re not going to send anybody else.

I’m looking for a clinic but there’s so many. Which to choose? Could you provide us with what to look out for?

It depends on what you want. It depends on whether you’re needing donor sperm, donor eggs. What you should do first, is actually emailing us telling us what you need and then we will give you the information free of charge. We are happy to share any information that we’ve got about any clinics. It’s a big wild world out there and actually. The more information we give you the better it is for you and we don’t mind if you don’t listen to us. If we can help you and educate you a little bit on how these clinics run and that gives you the confidence. You say thank you very much, but I’m gonna go to this clinic which is one we don’t collaborate with. That’s brilliant.

Do you work with any clinics that have known donors not anonymous, so at least so I can see a photo. Being an ex-model and quite tall it is difficult to find a suitable donor.

The law is different when you go abroad. So when you know you go abroad they use non-anonymous donors as well as anonymous donors. It’s only when they’re shipping sperm into the UK then it’s got to be in accordance with NHS guidelines. A lot of people do go abroad for that reason to use anonymous donors but you will get the same as it is always done, i.e. you’ll get a lot of information about the donor, you will get photographs. Some of them are anonymous, some of them are non-anonymous, you can choose when you go abroad you choose which ones you want to use. It’s a case of asking the clinics how much detail they can give you. If that’s possible we can steer you to a clinic that gives you as much detail as possible. It depends on the donors that they use, obviously, some clinics just have a very generic form, like hair colour, built, skin colour and work. A lot of the time people are going abroad because they wanted a lot of anonymous donors. Especially if it’s an egg donor, we found in the past. The key thing is if you email us we’re happy to give you as much information as you want about any of the clinics.

The clinic I visited to find a donor tries to match one with the physical characteristics of the female, so I wonder if donors won’t be able to come forward and be screened for a long time. 

I would imagine it depends on testing and the country. If they’re tested and they seem to be clear it is fine. I can’t see why there would be a problem with them coming forward. We know for example certain clinics work with some ladies a couple of times and so technically if they’ve got people on their books then they might work for them as long as everything is fine healthwise. This is the thing about being a donor, they are all going through very stringent checks before they’re accepted as a donor. As well they have to be fit and healthy. When we’ve gone visited the clinic’s aboard we’ve used the HFEA regulations and you know to check on what they are screening for. There’s a lot of the clinics actually abroad that screen for a lot more than what we do in the UK, to be honest.

I wasn’t yet matched with a donor and wondered if you’d heard if there have been any hold put on donors.

Some clinics do. It depends, some places aren’t completely shut down like us we’ve got skeleton staff and they’re having one donor in at a time. It depends on the country and it depends on their government regulation. Currently, some of the European countries are a little bit further ahead than us with the coronavirus so that’s why we say that there’s the potential that they’ll be coming out a bit quicker than we would be. There are always ways around it because we work with some sperm banks as well. They say that if there is a shortage at your clinic then we can assist you to get your eggs and sperm from a sperm and egg bank and have it shipped to whatever country you want. What we do, we do all the research for you so what we do is we ensure if someone’s going to the Czech Republic, where can you get sperm and eggs from that you can be sent to the Czech Republic or Spain, or Greece, or Cyprus. We do a little research for you but we’re open and honest with you. We will tell you exactly what’s going on with each clinic at that time and if it is that you need. When you use a sperm bank we would put you in the right direction of what sperm bank you would need to use because of the transportation regulations. Sometimes if you’ve got embryos created in the UK it’s not worth trying to get your embryos from the UK to Cyprus per se. You can do it, but it takes a long time, there’s a lot of paperwork at some of the clinics depending on your age and everything like that will say it’s easier for you to just go and start your stimulation and start again with the clinic out there. It’s quicker.

I’m 44 running out of time to use my own eggs. I cancelled my IVF due to a pituitary tumour. I was supposed to fly to Cyprus for treatment in March but now I am going in July. Do you think if they allow essential travel? Could IVF treatment be considered as essential?

We work closely with Cyprus anyway so we know that obviously, treatments out there are on hold now. We were discussing with the clinic yesterday very closely about the opening of the border. We will know on the 24th. So if you want to email us on the 24th we will give you that information about what we know when and if the borders are going to be open by the end of the month. There I think these Cypriot governments are meeting at the end of the month and that’s when the decision will be made. The signs are looking positive. It’s the word I want to use but I don’t like to build anyone’s hopes up too much. It’s really difficult to guess what any of these governments are going to do.

Are you able to provide the name of the clinic in Greece?

Well if you email us, Andrea, we will give you all the information and tell you exactly what the clinic does and if it is what you want over there. We will obviously put you in that information. We can give you all of the prices and everything is completely open, and so we can show you all of the prices for whatever treatments it is that you’re interested in. And we can even give you a comparison with the other clinics we work with. I usually email out the clinics and say it’s for donor eggs, I will give you the price for all of the clinics we work with for donor eggs so that you can see. Some people have a preferential country that they would like to go to. For some people it’s due to the financial aspect, so they’re trying to get treatment as cheap as they possibly can, which is completely understandable.

Thank you so much for all the tips and information. I probably have endometriosis and would like to hear from you about specialists. 

Please, send us an email and we’ll obviously help you. For endometriosis, we have a lovely doctor that is very highly specialized in endometriosis and has been for the last 30 plus years. He is very good and it’s very local for us. I have suffered myself from endometriosis all of my adult life so I can give you as many tips and information as I possibly can to help you.

There’s a question about South Africa so do you work with any clinics there?

I’m planning to go to South Africa at the moment. We have connections with the clinic out there that we could recommend but we haven’t sent anyone to them because of the distance, to be honest. We would be more than happy to give you their information.
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Sandra Bateman

Sandra Bateman

Sandra Bateman is a Senior Accredited Fertility Counsellor, the CEO of the National Fertility Society (UK) and the Manager to Louise Brown (The World's First IVF Baby).
Joanne Carwardine

Joanne Carwardine

Joanne Carwardine is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Fertility Society (UK) and BACP Reg. MBACP (Accred) Counsellor Supervisor.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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