Are you thinking of having IVF abroad? You’re not the only ones. Every year thousands of couples take the trip of a lifetime, in hope of becoming parents. But why are so many people having IVF abroad? And what should you think about if you’re considering it? We’ve got the answers here…
Reasons for Having IVF Abroad
This is one of the biggest factors, and probably one of the reasons you’re reading this article!
If you are based in the UK, you’ll know that it is possible to receive IVF treatment on the NHS for free. However, it’s not always as simple as that. Different areas of the country offer different amounts of cycles – known as the IVF postcode lottery. In some places, you can get one cycle for free and in others, it’s three. The restrictions around age and circumstances also vary by area. For example, some local authorities won’t let you have IVF on the NHS if you or your partner has children from a previous relationship.
If NHS funded IVF is not possible for you, you can look at going private, but this is when the costs start to get astronomical. 1 cycle can cost up to £5000. There are also some countries where treatment is even more expensive – in America, a single cycle can cost up to $20,000. For many couples, this is sadly not something they can afford. This is when IVF abroad can become an appealing prospect – in some countries, the cost of treatment is less than half of what it is in the UK.
Waiting times can also be another reason people head to other countries for IVF. In England, it’s not uncommon to have to wait around 4-6 months for treatment – and that’s after you’ve been through the various hurdles to get to the stage where you are booked in for IVF. In Scotland and Wales, some people have to wait up to 12 months.
The waitlist situation has always been tough in the UK – and with an overstretched NHS and rising cases of infertility, is no surprise. However, the pandemic has really exacerbated this problem and waitlist times are still recovering.
The good news is, there are countries in Europe that have managed to get their waitlist time down to zero. For couples who are watching the biological clock, it can be very tempting to hop on a plane and skip the queue for IVF treatment.
Whilst (expensive) private treatment in the UK will treat women into their 50s, on the NHS it’s a different story. The general age limit on NHS funded IVF is 43, but in some areas of the country, it can be as low as 39.
When NHS treatment is off the table, older women and couples often feel like IVF abroad is a better option for them. Whilst all clinics have an age limit of sorts on treatment (in most European countries it’s around 50) the treatment costs a lot less than going private in the UK. Egg and sperm quality also declines with age, so older parents-to-be often require the help of donor sperm and eggs. Whilst you can certainly find and use donor sperm and eggs in the UK, they are often more readily available in other countries, making the process move a lot faster.
Now, this is one to be careful of. When reading about IVF abroad, it’s easy to get blindsided by the claims of incredible success rates. Read any website offering IVF and they will explain that their success rates are higher because of advanced technology, more experienced doctors or legislation that makes egg and sperm donation easier – and all of the above could be true!
However, just as in the UK, it’s important to scrutinise the success rates of clinics. For example, is the clinic known for treating younger women? If so, maybe that’s why their average success rate is higher. Just take your time and don’t be blindsided by exciting claims – if it sounds too good to be true, it possibly is. Sometimes it’s better to seek out reviews from people and couples in a similar situation, as this can give you an idea of whether the clinic in question is the best fit for you.
Considerations When Having IVF Abroad
Cheaper IVF can be very appealing, but make sure you are taking into consideration other costs that might not be obvious at first. Things that we might take for granted – like being sedated for treatment – are not always included in the upfront costs of your cycle plan. You also might have to pay extra to get certain medications prescribed to you at home and – just like in the UK – there are various optional treatment add-ons that you may want to consider.
Fertility Clinics Abroad has a handy IVF calculator that can help you break down the cost of your treatment plan, so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you come to pay your bill!
On top of that, you also have to think about the cost of flights and accommodation for any appointments – and the impact of taking extended periods of time off work.
In the UK Assisted Fertility treatment is regulated by the Human Federation Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. – they are there to make sure care is meeting a high standard and to ensure that you are protected throughout the process. HFEA has no jurisdiction overseas, so it’s important to get your head around the governing body of the country you’re heading to. Most countries have pretty tight regulations around assisted fertility and many reports into the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology – but make sure to do your homework so you can move forward with confidence.
For some people, fertility lingo is like another language in itself – which can make appointments pretty overwhelming. Now imagine that you are trying to have these conversations through a translator – or with someone who doesn’t share the same native language as you. It can be really difficult.
The vast majority of IVF clinics abroad are set up to service people from all over the world – with staff that speak multiple languages fluently. However, there are some that may not have that infrastructure in place. If you have any questions about a potential language barrier, raise them with your clinic before committing and again, check out reviews from couples from your home country.
Popular Countries for Having IVF Abroad
If you’re sure that having IVF abroad is the right move for you – here are some of the most popular countries, couples in your situation are flocking too!
The cost of IVF in Greece is pretty competitive – between 3,000 EUR and 5,000 EUR – making it a very popular choice for couples that are considering IVF abroad.
Many of some of the best-rated clinics in Greece (and there are a lot of them) have no waiting list – yet another reason couples desperate to kick start their fertility journey are heading there. Women can also get IVF treatment up to the age of 50 making it popular for older couples – there’s not age limit for men. One thing to be aware of in Greece is that same-sex couples aren’t technically allowed to have IVF treatment. You can get around it by being treated as a single woman – but it might be worth considering how comfortable you would feel with that set up.
The Czech Republic offers IVF which is even cheaper than Greece in some clinics – with costs starting at 2,500 EUR. With over 30 clinics scattered throughout the country, there are plenty of choices for where to receive your treatment! All clinics are tightly regulated and controlled and English is spoken widely. Again, for same-sex couples this might not be the best place for you to go for treatment as the Czech Republic will not even treat single women.
Aside from the beautiful weather and beaches, Spain is a favourite destination for couples who need assisted fertility treatments thanks to their modern facilities and specialised doctors. It’s a popular choice for people looking to use egg donors, as egg donation has been well regulated in Spain since the eighties. Compared to some other countries, Spain is a bit more expensive, with treatments starting at around 4,000 EUR. However, the process there is more inclusive, making it a great places for same-sex couples to start their family.
Whilst you might think of Turkey as a destination to get affordable dental work and hair transplants, it is also rising in popularity as a destination for overseas IVF. With some of the cheapest prices in Europe (starting at around 2,000 EUR) and a growing number of state of the art clinics, it’s easy to see why! The downside about Turkey is that egg and sperm donation are completely prohibited. This means that treatment is out for single women, same-sex couples and older couples who would need donor eggs in order to have a health pregnancy.
Of course, we couldn’t leave our homeland off this list! Denmark has always been at the forefront of fertility treatment – around 8-10% of babies in the country are conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). It is also home to one of the largest sperm banks in the world, Cryos International, so waiting lists for donor sperm and IUI are almost zero. For these reasons (and the fact it’s an awesome country!) Denmark is one of the most popular destinations for women and couples undergoing fertility treatments. The typical cost of IVF in Denmark starts at around 3,400 EUR and they are very open to treating same-sex couples and single women.
Are you considering IVF abroad? Let us know in the comments!