Okay! So you’ve found your way to PVED, which means you already want a baby enough to explore the option of egg donation. But have you looked at the cost yet? For many of us, by the time we reach egg donation, we’ve gone through several failed IVF cycles and spent thousands and thousands of dollars already on doctors, treatments and medications. The thought of adding yet another $25 - $45,000 dollars to do an egg donor cycle with an American clinic is enough to make us cry. The truth is some of us just can’t afford it, no matter how much we cut corners or snip coupons.
And even in countries where the costs are not quite that high, sometimes the wait list for egg donors can be months or years long, or worse yet, you might be in a country where egg donation is not even legal.
For these Intended Parents, it feels like just when they finally had hope, the rug gets pulled out yet again and they are left with nothing… no baby, no options.
We’re here to tell you that nothing is further from the truth.
Options are everywhere and the world is your oyster… literally.
Fertility tourism is a flourishing market and it makes sense. Why? Because costs are lower, choices are abundant and success rates are fairly standard around the globe. So why not grab your passport, see a new country and make a baby while you’re there? Okay, it may not be the old fashion way of getting pregnant while on vacation, but who cares?! It’s the new millennium and the old ways of a having a baby are out…
• Why do Intended Parents travel for treatment?
• What assisted reproductive treatments are available and where?
• Where is egg donation legal? Where is surrogacy legal?
• How do I choose the right clinic for me?
• What do I give up by going abroad for fertility treatments?
• What are the advantages of working with a fertility tourism company or consultant?
PVED asked Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos and Lauri Berger de Brito from GlobalIVF.com and Sue Taylor from IVF Traveler to offer some key tips to keep in mind when contemplating traveling abroad for ART.
Orchestrating your International Fertility Journey
1. Why do Intended Parents travel for treatment?
The number one reason Intended Parents (IPs) travel for treatment is cost… hands down. Whereas a fresh egg donor cycle can cost approximately $25,000 - $45,000 in the US, there are many places around the world where it will cost you more like $10,000 – including travel and accommodations!
So, first things first – if you want to save money, fertility tourism is the way to go. Whether for egg donation or egg donation + surrogacy, there are many global options. However, each one comes with its own pros and cons. Some countries are less expensive, easier to travel to, but the egg donor will remain anonymous … some countries give you more information about your egg donor, but might be further away, and a more difficult trip. http://globalivf.com/2013/06/17/the-hidden-costs-of-traveling-for-ivf-treatment/
The next reason IPs travel for treatment is access. Whether there are wait lists in your own country or maybe egg donation is not legal in your country, you can typically arrange egg donor treatment with almost no wait when going abroad. At some of the very popular clinics for egg donation, they have a database of hundreds to over a thousand tested egg donors readily available for treatment.
The third reason IPs travel for treatment is because they have family or ethnicity based in a different country. In addition to saving money on the fertility treatments, if IPs have family or background in a particular country, it is a nice bonus to be able to spend time with their relatives or explore their roots. It also helps to find a donor with the same ethnicity.
The fourth reason IPs travel for treatment is purely for the adventure of it…Some people enjoy the challenge of a new location, a new language, seeing new sites while hopefully solving their fertility issues at the same time.
2. What assisted reproductive treatments are available in other parts of the world?
Where is egg donation legal? Where is surrogacy legal?
This is where it helps to have a site like globalivf.com or use a fertility tourism consultant like ivftraveler.com Laws are constantly changing around the world in terms of third party assisted reproduction, so you need to make sure that you’re up to date on the latest info. It’s always a good idea to check with a fertility attorney who specializes in international fertility in your home country or check with attorneys in the country where you are planning to go. Currently there are lots of popular places to go for egg donation. Countries where anonymous egg donation is legal and readily available include Czech Republic, Spain, South Africa, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine, Panama, Mexico, Barbados, and India but only a few for surrogacy – Ukraine, India, Russia and perhaps Thailand and Mexico (though they come with their own ‘red flags.’)
3. What other legal considerations are there for egg donation?
You need to make sure that you understand the reproductive laws of the country where you want to have treatment, in addition to individual clinic limitations. Some countries have laws mandating an age limit for IPs, some will not work with same sex couples or singles, some do not allow gender selection, some limit the numbers of embryos transferred, some make it difficult or impossible to ship frozen sperm, some only allow surrogacy for medical necessity, and most have laws regulating donors (anonymity vs. open, age, compensation, etc.). You also need to understand any laws that might impact your cryopreserved (frozen) embryos that may remain after a fresh transfer. There may be limits on whether you can donate them, or ship them to your home country, or limits of options available once you are finished with your family building.
There is no one best clinic. You want to pick a clinic that is a match to YOUR family’s needs and desires. And your priorities may be very different than someone else seeking treatment. Many factors typically go into this decision – including available technologies, success rates, wait list, cost, size of the donor database or access to donors that meet your requirements (ethnicity, blood types, coloring, body type, education, etc.). However, it is also important to keep in mind how the clinic communicates with its clients, what their response time is in getting back to you, do they have someone on staff who speaks English or your native tongue, and will they offer assistance with your travel plans and/or stay? Here’s an article with more considerations for picking a clinic: http://ivftraveler.com/clinic-selection-assistance/picking-clinics
5. How do I arrange for treatment abroad, and do I need a fertility tourism facilitator or consultant?
There are several ways to arrange treatment with a clinic abroad.
• You can arrange treatment directly with the clinic yourself. There are many online discussion boards that can be helpful with navigating the details of planning, but it is up to you to know what to ask and to do all of the planning. It is very do-able on your own if you like to research and are willing to invest the time. However, some patients find this to be a bit overwhelming and would prefer to have someone such as a facilitator or consultant to help them.
• You can arrange a package price through a fertility tourism facilitator (sometimes known as an “IVF Vacation” service). Each facilitator typically has contracts with one (or sometimes a few) clinics where the clinics pay them a fee for bringing them clients. Their package price typically includes the clinic’s treatment fees, treatment and travel planning assistance, and sometimes also includes some travel services in your destination country. In some cases, these companies may be able to get you faster treatment dates with their contracted clinics than you might be able to get going directly to the clinic.
• You can use a consultant to arrange the treatment and assist you with treatment and travel planning. In this case, the consultant is advocating and working on your behalf and may work with a wider variety of clinics since they are not limited to clinics that have contracted specifically with them. You pay the consultant directly for their services (often a flat fee), and you have a separate financial relationship directly with the clinic for the clinic’s fees. In this scenario, the consultant typically has no financial advantage for recommending one clinic over another and thus may be able to offer objective advice about a wider range of clinics.
7 . What other considerations are there to seeking treatment away from your home country?
Our IVF Abroad FAQ answers many of these questions and more, including: What are the typical costs? How long will I need to be traveling? How do I handle medications? Can I be monitored at home? Does your partner need to go with you? What happens once I’m Pregnant?
We also encourage you to visit these additional PVED resources for treatment abroad:
• IVF Abroad: What To Know Before You Go – this article discusses the benefits, differences, and expectations of donor egg treatment abroad.
• Navigating Your Treatment Abroad – So, you’ve selected a clinic, now what? This article covers what to expect from your treatment abroad, considerations for anonymous donor treatment, what to expect when you get home, and things to think about regarding frozen embryos left after your treatment.
• IVF Abroad FAQ – We answer the most common questions posed about seeking treatment abroad.
• Treatment Abroad Forums – Join other PVED members who have traveled for treatment or are planning their upcoming cycles. Ask questions and share experiences – before, during and after your treatment
• Talking to Your Children About Anonymous Donor Conception.
• PVED’s Recommended Reading List: here. A treasure trove of books for intended parents, children of egg or embryo donation, and a variety of articles about all aspects of third party reproduction, egg donation, embryo donation and talking to your children about their conception.
About the authors:
Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos and Lauri Berger de Brito are both mothers via surrogacy and egg donation. After suffering through their own struggle s with infertility, they committed themselves to helping others down the same path. Together they created the highly successful, world renowned Agency for Surrogacy Solutions, Inc. nearly 10 years ago. More recently, they have focused their attention and expertise on fertility tourism. Aside from providing individual consulting regarding travelling for treatment, they are the co-creators of Global IVF, Inc. – an informational website devoted to educating Intended Parents about their global options. Lauri can be reached at email@example.com Kathryn can be reached at Kathryn@globalivf.com.
**Sue Taylor is an experienced IVF consultant with a passion for helping others on their journey to parenthood. With over 27 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, she now assists patients with selecting a clinic, or going abroad for more affordable IVF and donor egg IVF treatments. Ms. Taylor can provide assistance for prospective patients deciding if IVF treatment abroad is a good choice for them, assist with clinic selection, and can provide treatment & travel coordination services. She has assisted hundreds of donor IVF patients from all over the world in seeking treatment abroad. Her blog, www.ivftraveler.com/blog, offers practical details for patients traveling for IVF services or an IVF vacation. Sue Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.