IVF in Europe: Everything you need to know
Europe is a rich and prosperous continent in many respects, except that of birth rates. The steady decline in birth rates can be attributed to a number of factors including that many women now prefer to wait until they are in their 30’s before becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, this often increases the rate of infertility. As a result the demand for assisted reproduction or IVF treatment has escalated over the past several decades.
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Due to high costs of fertility procedures in their home countries, many couples are turning to European countries where quality service is offered at much lower rates. So-called ‘fertility tourism’ has become a popular practice whereby couples can enjoy an exotic holiday at the same time as embarking on their exciting parenthood journey. Also, the relaxing getaway location can help to set a tranquil tone and allay the stress and anxiety that often accompany such a life-changing endeavor.
From the sunny cities of Spain to the cool capital of Latvia, the wide choice of IVF options and locations available in Europe can be overwhelming, so here are a few considerations to help you in your search to find the ideal solution for your family needs. For a more personal consultation we kindly invite you to schedule a free consultation with one of our IVF travel experts, or simply request a quote.
What is the quality standard of IVF treatments in Europe?
The quality and standard of treatment you are likely to receive differs from country to country and from clinic to clinic. It is therefore important to research the specific clinic you are considering. If you are wondering where to start, here are a few significant criteria which could help you to pinpoint the factors which are essential for the success of your personal IVF journey:
- Costs involved: It is tempting to be swayed by promises of low costs, but before you decide be sure to know exactly what you are being offered. What kind of value is attached to the fees quoted, and are there possibly any hidden costs involved?
- Success rates: One of the uppermost questions is surely ‘What chance of pregnancy do we have as a result of the treatment?’ Some clinics advertise inflated performance percentages in an attempt to lure more patients. According to statistics, the average success rate of most European clinics is around 44-46%. (C.Mills, 2015)
- Experience: Experience and durability go a long way to prove whether something is worthwhile. Find out how long a clinic has been in existence, and how much experience the doctors and clinic staff have. If an embryology lab has had consistently successful results for at least 4 or 5 years, it could be a good option for you.
- Accreditation and Regulation: Every licensed IVF clinic must adhere to the regulations of their particular country. Inspections are carried out at regular intervals or randomly depending on the country. Most clinics in Europe also have ISO certification from the International Organization for Standardization in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Reviews: There’s nothing like hearing directly from someone who has traveled the path ahead of you. With the abundance of social media nowadays it is relatively easy to track down reviews from those who have received treatment at the clinic you may be considering.
What are the legal aspects of IVF in Europe?
The Legal Parent: In European countries a child has two legal parents according to the names that are recorded on the birth certificate. The woman who gives birth to the baby is the legal mother, and the father may be her spouse, her partner or the biological father.
- Anonymity: In many European countries egg and sperm donors remain anonymous and they have no legal obligations to any offspring which result from their donations. However, some countries (such as the UK, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands) do disclose certain details about the donor (such as height and weight, and color of eyes and hair) but their identities are not disclosed. The keeping of donor records also differs depending on the country.
- Age Restrictions: Generally the cut-off age for a woman to be eligible for IVF treatment is up to 50 years. In some countries, this is not legislated but depends on the policy of the
- Surrogacy: If you are interested in surrogacy, your options in Europe are fairly limited as it is not legal in most countries. Some countries such as the Czech Republic and Ireland do not have any laws regarding surrogacy, so it is not illegal, but the downside is that there are no laws to protect the recipient couple if the surrogate decides to keep the baby. In other countries such as Greece, surrogacy is only available for permanent residents and subject to a court case.
- Sex Selection: The use of IVF techniques to select the sex of the child is not permitted in European countries, except for medical reasons and in the case of rare medical diseases or conditions.
Which are the top IVF destinations in Europe?
According to the GCR (Global Clinic Rating) for 2018 the following countries are rated in the top 10 with regard to the best fertility clinics in Europe.
Besides having numerous top quality fertility clinics, Spain has a lot to offer couples seeking reproductive assistance. Why not take a break in Spain at the same time as your IVF treatment?
Whether you choose an inland or coastal city, you can soak in the cosmopolitan atmosphere, admire the art and architecture, and enjoy the great weather and sunny Mediterranean beaches. Travel to and from Spain is easy with regular international flights.
This is another top-rated European country with more than thirty excellent fertility facilities. It is a great option for medical tourism with exquisite scenery and attractions. During your free time between treatments, you can stroll through beautiful gardens and fascinating museums, gaze at the baroque buildings and fountains, or take a quiet moment in a gothic church or cathedral.
Communication is well catered for as clinic staff speaks English and other languages, ensuring that patients are treated in their mother tongue.
Greece has approximately 50 quality fertility clinics to choose from. Whether you go to Athens, Thessaloniki or the Mediterranean islands of Crete, you will find travel easy with many international flights, and accommodation is plentiful.
Greek hospitality is famous and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options, from gourmet restaurants to the local tavernas. While having your IVF treatment, take some time off and enjoy soaking in the historical sights of Greece, the warm climate and breathtaking beauty.
Poland is a popular choice for couples seeking IVF treatment for a number of reasons, such as the economical rates combined with high quality services. There are around 40 fertility clinics in Poland, both state-owned and private.
This European country is steeped in history and you will have plenty to keep you occupied when you are not at the clinic. Enjoy a day trip to one of the landmarks, take a museum tour, or enjoy the fresh air and explore one of the nature parks.
The island of Cyprus is home to several state of the art fertility centers, two of which are featured in the top ten on the GCR grading. However, before choosing Cyprus for your IVF treatment, you need to be aware that the country is divided in two, north and south, each having different jurisdictions. Travel is facilitated by international airlines as well as charter airlines in summer, and there are also cruise liners if you choose to take a Mediterranean cruise during your medical vacation.
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