IVF is expensive. If you haven’t been able to conceive naturally even after trying for over months and your doctor has recommended IVF, you could possibly be worried about the massive expenses that come with it. It is completely rational at this stage to look for affordable IVF abroad and find a way to complete your family without breaking your bank.
In vitro fertilization is the process of combining a female’s egg with a male’s sperm under controlled conditions of a high-tech laboratory. This fertilized egg, called the embryo, is then transferred back to the uterus of the woman.
Normally, this process takes place in the fallopian tubes of the woman.
Invitro means “in glass” and IVF is so named because the fertilization is made to happen in a glass dish.
This procedure achieves remarkable pregnancies even in women with hopelessly damaged fallopian tubes, seemingly sterile husbands, and even unexplained infertility.
Depending upon your reason for requiring uterus removal, your doctor may advise:
The process of IVF involves the following steps:
- Investigations – If you are planning for IVF overseas, you may get all the tests and investigations done locally and send the reports to your fertility doctor abroad so he/she can advise the treatment plan accordingly.
Plan to see your doctor on day 1 or day 2 of your period.
- Ovarian stimulation – Normally your ovaries release one egg per month. The doctor will prescribe some injectable hormones to get your ovaries to release more eggs for collection. Usually these injections have to be taken for 10-15 days and in some women, they cause uneasiness and temporary nausea.
- Egg retrieval & semen collection – An HCG trigger injection is given to activate egg release from the ovaries. Egg removal is an almost painless process. Eggs are aspirated with an ultrasound guided needle under light sedation. You can leave the hospital the same day.
Simultaneously, the semen is collected and washed to separate good quality sperm.
- Insemination/Fertilization – The eggs are fertilized with the selected sperm and the so formed embryos are then left to grow for 3-5 days.
- Embryo transfer – The embryos are very simply placed into your uterus with a tiny catheter that is passed through the cervix.
No incision is needed and you can go home the same day.
For self-egg IVF cycle with fresh embryo transfer you should plan to stay at the medical destination for around 20-21 days, starting on the day of your period.
In case you choose to have frozen embryo transfer, you can return after embryo collection (11 days) and make a subsequent trip (about 3-4 days) in 2-3 months or later.
The doctor will co-ordinate to help you plan the dates of your trip based on your monthly cycle.
For a single IVF cycle with self eggs and fresh embryo transfer – One trip of 20 days
For IVF cycle with donor eggs and fresh embryo transfer – One trip of 5-6 days (provided you coordinate with the clinic in advance and they agree to stimulate the donor based on online payments)
For IVF with NGS or PGS/PGD testing – A single trip of about 30 days or two separate trips a couple of months apart.
Some women choose to get the stimulation done at a local clinic, which allows them to cut some days from their trip for IVF abroad. However, if possible, you should try and get the whole process at the same clinic with the same doctor as you will build a doctor-patient rapport and that eventually helps your case.
Most women are able to resume normal work and activities the next day after ET, but some complain of a little uneasiness. Some women may experience the below side effects after IVF:
- Mild cramping and bloating
- Tenderness of beasts
- Slight fluid discharge (clear or blood-tinged)
These will subside within some time and should not worry you.
However, in very rare cases, the side-effects could be more serious, and you should call your doctor if you experience:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Blood in the urine
- Pelvic pain
- Fever over 100.5 °F
The hormonal injections in IVF may cause discomfort and the below symptoms in some women:
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Hot flashes
Risk of Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)
OHSS is a very rare but possible side-effect of IVF. It happens when your ovaries react adversely to the drugs.
The symptoms of OHSS are:
- Short breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased urinary frequency
- Severe pain in the stomach
- Sudden weight gain (10 pounds or so) within three to five days
In case you experience any of the above, contact your doctor immediately.
Additional risks of IVF include:
- Infection – Bleeding and infection can occur from egg retrieval
- Damage to internal organs – Although the procedure is not highly invasive, damage to your bowel or bladder can occur with the needle. Go to an experienced doctor to avoid such risks.
- Ectopic pregnancy – When the embryo implants anywhere outside the uterus, it is an ectopic pregnancy, which is not viable. The risk of ectopic pregnancy in IVF is about 2-5%
- Multiple pregnancies – Transfer of multiple embryos raises the risk of multiple pregnancies.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the average success rates for IVF are as below:
- For women less than 35 years of age: 41-43%
- For women between 35-37 years: 33-36%
- For women between 38 to 40 years: 23-27%
- For women over 40 years of age: 13-18%
Some IVF clinics in Thailand claim 60-70% success in IVF with PGD for women under the age of 40 years.
Do not just go with IVF success rates; ask for the chances of success in your specific case.
The quality of eggs is one of the main reasons for failure of IVF. So if you think the eggs are to blame for infertility, you may consider IVF with donor eggs.
Different countries have different legal guidelines regarding the use of donor eggs for IVF. So you must check the legal status of egg donors before planning for your IVF abroad.
- In Thailand – Donor eggs are not allowed unless you bring your own donor, who belongs to the same race as yours
- In India – Donor eggs can be arranged of any ethnicity or race that you wish
- In Malaysia – IVF with donor eggs is offered and is quite cheap.
PGS/PGD testing is advised:
- If you or your partner has genetic problems that can be passed on to the baby
- For better embryo selection to improve the chances of IVF success, especially in women who are closer to the age of 40 years
If you opt for PGD/PGS testing, a second trip may be required for frozen embryo transfer (FET) or you may have to stay there for another 10 days.
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It could be unnerving to plan for IVF abroad, where you don’t know anyone but once you find out about all the people who have completed their families by going overseas for IVF, you will feel a lot more confident about it.
Places like India and Thailand are popular medical tourism destinations and the doctors there are visited by a lot of foreigners so they are aware of the expectations.
When looking for an IVF clinic overseas, below are some of the things you should consider:
- The experience and expertise of your fertility doctor
- The accreditation or certification of your chosen IVF clinic
- Do they speak your language?
- Do they understand your questions and reply satisfactorily?
- What are their success rates for cases like yours?
- What do they say about chances of IVF success in your case?
- What if your IVF fails? Do they offer you FET or some discounts?
As far as the reviews are concerned, you can find some on our platform. Most clinic websites have testimonials which are only positive experiences of their clients. No one will publish negative comments on their own website, which is why we encourage users to come back and write their honest reviews with us.
Most importantly do you feel comfortable about going to this clinic? Read around and ask questions.
Besides being a major financial payout, IVF is an emotional investment. Go into the treatment well informed so that you can maximize the chances of success.
You can use our service to find the best hospitals for IVF abroad.