If you are finding it hard to negotiate funding at home for IVF treatment or treatment at home is just too plain expensive, you may be considering going abroad. But what can you expect? Forums provide a lot of support and help from people who have already been in your shoes. It is definitely worth checking these out. From my experience of visiting some of the clinics in the Czech Republic and Spain and chatting to the staff, here are a few things that I’ve noted about what to expect – and what not to expect.
What to expect with IVF treatment abroad
1) Cheaper treatment
Yes on the whole this is true for many countries in Europe. For example, in the Czech Republic, egg donation can be as low as 4000 Euros. Compare this to some of the prices advertised at private clinics at home.
2) Unexpected expenses
This is usually the case with most things isn’t it? Better to have a small contingency fund to draw upon. But, before you go, make sure that you ask the clinic about all possible expenses e.g. they might recommend culturing your embryos to blastocyst. Is this going to be an added expense? Some agencies will provide an all-inclusive cost- this might suit some people. We’ve designed an IVF Cost Calculator which might help you budget.
3) Short or no waiting lists
This will mostly be the case, particularly for egg donation. The reason is that egg and sperm donation in many European countries is anonymous and therefore there are many donors who will come forward to donate.
4) Needing support
Travelling abroad for IVF treatment will be stressful. At the end of each day, you will be going back to unfamiliar surroundings. So it is a good idea to have your partner there with you for support. Your IVF coordinator, if they are good, will also be there to help you every step. They provide support and guidance and many people have a good relationship with this person.
5) Communication may not be easy
IVF clinics abroad now have many ways to enable patients to contact them. As discussed above there is usually a member of the International Team who is assigned to help coordinate treatment. They are usually the first point of contact with the clinic. Contact can be via email, telephone or skype. However, some people can get frustrated when their emails are not replied promptly or due to translation from one language to another, messages are misunderstood. Yes, sometimes communication may be challenging but a good IVF clinic will ensure that you are kept well informed.
6) Additional treatments may be available
For example, some treatments which are not allowed at home, may be abroad e.g. sex selection.
What NOT to expect
1) Being successful first time
It may be that more than one treatment abroad is required. Some clinics offer packages where three treatments are offered for the price of two. Or a risk sharing program is offered. This can sometimes bring down the cost.
2) Everything going smoothly
Issues always crop up. It may be that you lose your passport or get lost trying to find the clinic! Or more challenging – a fresh semen sample can’t be produced when required. Clinics have treated many patients from abroad so have usually come across all of the problems you encounter.
You may have first-hand experience of going abroad. Do you have any more helpful tips to pass on?
For more information on IVF treatment abroad, take a look at our guides.