IVF treatment in the United States is expensive. A single complete cycle, including egg stimulation and transfer, embryo transfer, medications, ultrasounds, monitoring appointments, and labwork, can cost up to $25,000 or more. Perhaps you've heard from others or read about traveling outside the country for treatment in various groups. Will this approach save money? Are foreign clinics legitimate, and do they provide safe, effective care?
We examine the options for seeking IVF abroad in this article and what you should consider before seeking treatment in another country.
The Pros of Getting IVF Abroad
There are international clinics close to the U.S. that may be feasible for some. These include clinics in Mexico and the Caribbean (Barbados), typically a day or less worth of travel away. Europe is also a popular destination for Americans seeking lower treatment costs.
Traveling outside of the U.S. can significantly lower your costs for IVF treatment. For example, the cost of one IVF procedure (excluding medications) can run as low as $2,500 in the Czech Republic, $3,500 in Greece, to $5,000 in Mexico, the Cayman Islands, and Spain.
Quality of Care
There shouldn't be an assumption that clinics abroad fall under the same regulations and guidelines as that in the U.S. However, one might argue that there's room in the U.S. to tighten regulations to protect patients. If considering IVF abroad, research and inquire about a clinic's accreditation before beginning treatment. According to Dr. Claudia Mika, Founder of the Temos International Healthcare Accreditation:
"Accreditation is a formal process by which a recognized body assesses and recognizes that a healthcare organization meets applicable pre-determined and published standards. Accreditation standards are usually regarded as optimal and achievable and are designed to encourage continuous improvement efforts. An accreditation decision is made following a periodic onsite evaluation by a team of peer reviewers, typically conducted every two to three years. Accreditation is often a voluntary process in which organizations choose to participate, rather than required by law and regulation."
"Certification" and "accreditation" are terms typically used interchangeably, irrespective of the country of origin. And when inquiring about certification and accreditation, be sure to seek this information from your treating physician, embryologist, and clinic.
Some familiar and respected accreditation organizations include The Joint Commission and The International Organization for Standardization. And professional organizations such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology require high safety and professional standards for their members, although they are not technically regulatory bodies.
One of the best ways to get a sense of a clinic's quality is by reading reviews from previous patients if you can source them. You may be able to find reviews on clinic websites, and there are numerous Facebook groups where individuals speak about their experiences. In some cases, the patients of various clinics also form their own Facebook groups where you can glean insight into a clinic's practice and treatment of patients.
Costs for traveling internationally:
At the end of the day, you want to ensure that you will actually be saving money by pursuing IVF treatment abroad. Ensure you are clear about the costs for:
Bloodwork, ultrasounds/monitoring appointments (can these be done locally, and at what cost?)
Egg retrieval procedure
Egg/sperm/embryo freezing and storage
Factor in expenses for:
Local travel to the clinic location
Lost wages for missing time from work. Treatment can take up to several weeks at various times, depending on your plan and clinic.
Local laws and fertility regulations – get answers to the following before seeking treatment:
Are there any age restrictions for IVF?
Can single individuals receive IVF care?
Are services provided to LBGTQIA individuals/couples?
Is surrogacy lawful?
Are egg donation, sperm donation, or embryo donation allowed?
Where will I be able to freeze/store eggs, sperm, or embryos?
The decision to get IVF abroad is not easy and definitely comes with its unique complexities. However, this journey can be an option that brings you closer to realizing your family-building goals.
If you have questions about receiving IVF abroad or are curious about Sweet Pea and our available resources, schedule a brief chat with us or call/text at (877) 587-5087. We're also available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.