The rise in fertility tourism and overseas IVF treatment

A drop in NHS funding for IVF fertility treatment is leading to an increase in more women seeking the treatment abroad.

Fertility tourism is on the rise due to more women seeking IVF fertility treatment abroad due to a decrease in NHS funding for the treatment

Whether or not a local authority will fund the NICE-recommended three cycles of IVF varies from one local authority to another. Other factors such as the health and age of the prospective mother may also disqualify women from any NHS treatment available. A single cycle of IVF at a private clinic costs approximately £5,000 or more, and there are often additional costs, such as embryo glue to aid implantation and genetic screening which are not included in the headline cost.

 

With some couples facing the possibility of three or more rounds of the treatment, it’s no surprise that many are looking for cheaper alternatives such as overseas IVF clinics.

Is the cost of fertility treatment abroad cheaper?

Ukraine, Turkey, and Lithuania offer some of the lowest prices for IVF fertility treatment abroad. In those countries, women pay between £1,150 - £1,418 per cycle. Even some of the more expensive options, such as almost £3,000 in Greece or up to £4,250 in Spain are still significantly cheaper than private care in the UK. The cost of IVF overseas is lower if the woman’s own eggs are used. The costs can increase significantly if donor eggs are used. Many overseas IVF clinics offer package deals which promise there will be no added extras tacked onto the quoted cost and any required care is included in the price. This can be a great benefit to those people looking to plan a family and manage their budget for fertility treatment.

In some fertility tourism destinations, you will need to cover more than the cost of one or more cycles of treatment. Some of the additional costs may include hormone treatment to stimulate the production of multiple eggs for in vitro fertilisation (approximately £400 - £2,000), donor sperm (approximately £200), and donor eggs (approximately £2,000 or more).

Why do people opt for fertility treatment overseas?

The Fertility Network UK charity and online hub Fertility Clinics Abroad published their own investigation into the reasons why patients head overseas for treatment, with the most popular destinations being Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, France, Denmark and the USA. They predict that the trend for fertility tourism will continue for as long as the treatment remains prohibitively expensive to many in the UK. The cheaper, all-inclusive prices at many overseas IVF clinics offer women clarity and reassurance that their treatment will fall within a set budget.

As important as the cheaper cost of fertility treatment abroad is for many women, it is not the only factor contributing to the increasing number of people seeking the treatment in other countries. The quality of IVF treatment in the UK compared to that overseas was one of the other factors.

According to the investigation, more than 60% of respondents previously had fertility treatment in the UK. Of those respondents, 44% said the quality of their treatment was average, while 25% said their treatment quality was poor. A mere 3% said their treatment quality was excellent.

When it came to the other factors, 65% of respondents said access to free NHS fertility treatment was location dependent, and 36% said they experienced poor service and aftercare. 35% said long waiting lists and a shortage of egg donors pushed them to seek IVF abroad.

When it came to the pull factors for fertility tourism, the investigation found considerable interest in treatment at overseas IVF clinics. More than 93% of respondents said they would consider travelling abroad for the treatment. Those who had already done so said they would do it again.

Touching on the cost factor again, 68% said they would opt for fertility treatment overseas as the costs at foreign clinics generally are cheaper. 50% said they believed clinics in some other countries had higher success rates, and 46% said they would consider fertility tourism because of positive reports from other people. Other fertility tourism pull factors included access to a larger number of egg donors and shorter waiting lists.

Research your options for the best care and costs

The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority advises anyone thinking of having fertility treatment overseas to do thorough research, as IVF is not regulated in the same way outside the UK. This research should include standards of care but also, if using a donated egg or sperm, the potential rights of the donor in the future.

Although there is legislation within the EU to set safety and quality standards for fertility treatment, not all countries within the EU have implemented those standards. To further complicate matters, not all overseas IVF clinics are accredited by a national body.

Quality and donor rights aside, there are several other factors to consider when researching fertility tourism destinations. You should enquire about the rate of multiple pregnancies at clinics, due to the health risks posed by twin and triplet pregnancies. Another factor to remember is that some foreign countries limit fertility treatment to the use of donor sperm but not donor eggs or embryos.

How to pay for medical care at overseas IVF clinics

With budget playing an important role in such a life-changing decision, it’s important to consider how much the currency exchange may impact the total cost of treatment at an overseas IVF clinic. Currency exchange specialists usually charge lower fees and offer better rates than the average high street bank. A specialist such as moneycorp also may provide guidance on the best way to pay for your treatment, depending on the clinic’s requirements.

It’s worth making sure you maximise every element of your budget because once you hear the pitter patter of tiny feet, every penny is going to count.

Our team of currency specialists is available to offer guidance and information on your options when sending payments abroad for overseas medical care.

 

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