Your Guide to Fertility Treatment Abroad

November 10, 2023
There are many reasons that you might be looking to go abroad for fertility treatment. By researching your fertility options, you’ll be presented with many factors: cost, fertility clinics, treatments, waiting lists, donor anonymity and location, to name a few.

Additionally, your fertility journey may come up against unexpected issues. For instance, you might not qualify for IVF funding in the UK therefore having to take the self-funding route, and potentially, cross-border treatment. In these instances, treatment abroad might provide you with cheaper clinic options.

No fertility journey is the same, and the reasons you are seeking treatment overseas will differ from the next person. You need to find the right clinic and treatment for your specific needs. Some individuals might be looking for the most revered experts with the highest success rates. Others might be looking to receive treatment at an older age or for the best donor treatment. Treatment abroad can open up the choices available to you.

Which country has the best fertility treatments?

The best fertility clinics will be different for each individual. There is no one perfect fertility clinic offering unrivalled treatment. You will have to assess the clinics against your unique needs. Furthermore, it greatly depends on what treatment you are looking to have.

The laws in other countries may mean fertility treatment is off limits to you. Single women or same sex couples may not be legally allowed to receive treatment overseas. Even if you have a strong understanding of the fertility treatments available in the UK, infertility treatment abroad may be regulated differently. It is crucial to research the laws in depth before committing to an overseas clinic. Every country has different legal aspects to consider, and this will affect which country has the best fertility treatment for you.

It is important to do plenty of research to find the right destination, then more research to find the right fertility clinic. The right clinic will be different for different people. Are you looking for the best IVF clinic? The best cost? The highest success rates? The best clinical experts?

After you have selected the very best clinic for your needs, be prepared that the experience of having treatment abroad might be more emotional than you are expecting. Being away from your family and friends might make you feel isolated. This is a consideration that can be forgotten during the process of finding the best clinic.

How much does IVF treatment abroad cost?

A good starting point is to get an idea of the cost of treatment in the UK. From there, do your research to be able to compare the price of the overseas clinics. Depending on which treatment centre you use, costs in the UK can vary between £1,500 and £5,000. Often, the basic charge doesn’t include drugs, blood tests, anaesthetics, screening or more complex treatments like ICSI. Even clinics offering unlimited packages with up to 100% refund still don’t include everything in the cost of their package.

On average, IVF treatments overseas will cost between £1,200 and £3,000 per cycle, so clinics abroad can be considerably cheaper. When factoring in your costs, be aware that hormonal treatment and the use of egg donors and sperm donors will normally add costs to your treatment. Confirm what is included in the costs or if there are any add-ons or tests that are not accounted for in the fees. Costs vary as much from clinic to clinic as they do from country to country, so research a variety of clinics.

One reason you might be interested in IVF abroad is because you don’t qualify for IVF funding in the UK. While it may be cheaper than self-funding it in a UK clinic, you will also need to factor into your budget the cost of travel, accommodation and aftercare. These are fees you wouldn’t necessarily have to pay if you have your treatment in a UK clinic.

Is IVF abroad safe?

As long as you do your research carefully and choose a reputable clinic, you should be in good hands. Research the staff and experts in the clinics thoroughly. Fertility treatments require a high level of medical expertise, and you should look to receive the best treatment you can.

Occasionally, language barriers may be a problem when having fertility treatments abroad. You may need to get help by hiring a translator, or search for a clinic that has English-speaking staff. You must feel confident and safe with the care and service you are receiving, and communication is fundamental to this.

Make sure to read reviews and reach out to others to learn about their experiences. The IVF Network can help support you in your journey by providing a supportive community and advice from experts.

Research IVF clinics in the UK first

Before you start researching clinics abroad, thoroughly research the treatments in clinics in the UK. This is a good starting point from which to compare clinics in the UK because it gives you a benchmark of what to look for abroad. You might think that your treatment will start quicker overseas. However, many clinics in the UK do not have a waiting list, or if they do have a waiting list, it is often short.

The HFEA is the UK government’s fertility regulator, and they provide impartial and accurate information about UK fertility clinics and treatment. The HFEA have high standards, which UK clinics must meet. You may find that clinics abroad are using new methods that aren’t fully approved in the UK due to the stringent testing. This is a good starting point from which to compare clinics in the UK, and it also gives a benchmark of what to look for abroad.

Using a donor or surrogacy abroad

It’s important to be aware of the different laws and regulations that protect you and the potential donor when receiving fertility treatment abroad. The laws in each country may differ, giving donors and surrogates varying degrees of rights and responsibilities.

Some countries let people donate anonymously, meaning your child will not be able to trace their donor. If the donor is anonymous, you should still be able to find information about the donor, such as medical history, for your child’s future.

There may be legal issues surrounding surrogacy that you want to research before taking this route, such as applying for a parental order or organising visas. If you are considering surrogacy, you should get legal advice to clarify any questions before you proceed.

Things to know about fertility treatments in Europe

Popular destinations for IVF treatment in Europe include Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia and Poland. The basic costs for IVF are often cheaper, with more tests included. Unlike in the UK, there isn’t one regulatory board for you to compare everything on a level playing field, as each country will have their own regulatory body.

As an example, Spain is one of the most popular countries for those seeking fertility treatment abroad. This is in part due to the reproductive legislation it passed in 2006. The legislation is one of the most liberal in the world. If you are a single woman or same sex couple seeking IVF treatment abroad, Spain could be a viable option for you.

The age limit of egg recipients is higher in Spain (and other European countries). If you are over 50 and looking for treatment, IVF abroad will offer options unavailable to you in the UK.

Others are drawn to Spain because all egg donors and sperm donors are anonymous. Spain has a wide range of fertility treatments in clinics that are safe and reliable, contributing to its popularity. But Spain is just one option if you are looking for fertility clinics in Europe.

The IVF Network recently spoke with Emma Haslam, Founder of Your IVF Abroad. Emma offers practical and emotional support to those looking for clinics in Europe. She has valuable insights on clinics with very high success rates and no waiting lists in Europe.

To see the full broadcast with Emma, access the broadcast archive and watch conversations live, join The IVF Network for free.

Things to know about fertility treatments in the USA

America has become popular recently with those looking for IVF abroad, although it is reportedly more costly for IVF treatment there. It is leading the way in genetic testing and has more treatment options available than in the UK. Treatments in clinics usually include bloodwork and egg retrieval. However, hormone therapy is not usually included in the fee, neither are sperm donor, egg donor or surrogate costs.

Many people look to go to the USA for surrogacy because of its robust, safe and ethical surrogacy. There are different laws from state to state in the USA, so you will have to research this in regard to the fertility treatment you are looking to receive. For example, surrogacy is legal in all states in the USA except for Nebraska, Louisiana and Michigan. Additionally, if you are a British parent travelling to the USA to use a surrogate you need to be aware of complex inter-country surrogacy arrangement laws, particularly if you want your child to have British nationality.

The IVF Network recently spoke with Dr Brain Levine, Founder of CCRM and Nodal Health, on the differences between surrogacy and 3rd party reproduction in the UK vs the USA. To access the discussion archive and watch conversations live, join The IVF Network.

What to look for in an overseas clinic?

When starting your research, it is useful to consider some of the following questions, before deciding on a clinic:

Treatment questions

·      Are you eligible for treatment at that clinic/in that country? Some countries won’t allow same sex couples or single women to have IVF treatment.

·      Are all of the treatments medically recognised in the UK?

·      What are the surrogacy laws in the country, if you are needing to use a surrogate?

·      If you are needing to use donor eggs or sperm, are the donors thoroughly screened?

Cost and consultation questions

·      What is and what is not included in the basic price? How much are any additional costs going to be?

·      Are online consultations available?

·      Were your initial consultation and any follow-up calls detailed, with questions about your medical history?

Clinic questions

·      What do the reviews say about care, cleanliness, safety, etc?

·      Is the clinic licensed and who is it accredited by?

·      Have you got any personal recommendations from someone you know who has used the clinic?

·      Are the staff suitably qualified?

·      How do the results compare with other clinics? Look at the results for people of a similar age to you, going through similar treatments, as this is the best way to make a fair comparison. Do they only advertise the results from younger women and leave out results from older women? Are the results based on successful embryo transfers, a positive pregnancy test or live births? All of these things need to be taken into consideration.

Most importantly…

·      Do you feel confident that your needs will be met?

The IVF Network

Here at The IVF Network, we understand the challenges faced by couples and individuals facing infertility and the complexities of fertility treatment. Through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, we provide information to help you to make informed choices on your personal fertility journey.

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