Travelling abroad for fertility treatment
Some people chose to travel abroad to have treatment, mostly when using donor eggs or sperm. This is often known as cross border reproductive care.
Naomi and Martin had had treatment unsuccessfully in England and had been told that they would need to consider using donor eggs. When they started to research the availability of donor eggs, they were excited by the availability in Spain, where the waiting lists appeared to be much shorter than in the UK.
Martin was excited to discover that the success rate at the Spanish clinic was 65% for dual donor...
So we were ready to start again and we started looking into abroad because of the availability of donors and also the success rates, and it became really quite exciting when we started to read that with dual donor in Spain was 65% of success. We could actually have lots in our favour for once and there could be more chance of it working than not working. It was fantastic, an unbelievable scenario. It’s scary and people talk about overseas as if it’s one place, you know, it’s bad overseas it’s not regulated but where precisely are we talking because it’s not one place. And that a point that I would immediately keep making, because ‘overseas’ isn’t this deregulated nightmare that people sometimes paint the picture of.
Martin and his wife decided to try Spain because they knew a few people online who had had treatment there and recommended it.
Naomi describes how they were very impressed with the professionalism and facilities at the...
Like many people, Martin felt he was naive about treatment abroad. He wants to use his very positive experience to help others make decisions about going abroad for treatment.
But there are a lot of people that very naïve about overseas treatment. They think it’s going to be a dingy back room down some side street, and somewhere that doesn’t speak any English. That’s fair I think our expectation wasn’t far off that when we started. But you, talking to people, and we went and viewed in our case, but it’s learning about it. Once you are not naïve and ignorant, you have learnt about it, you can make a judgement. And, you know, I would like to help as many people as possible, who might be considering it, but have shut that door because of their preconception of what it is and actually show them that it isn’t like that. But every country is different. You know, we have got people who have gone to Russia, the Ukraine, their experiences are very different. Not necessarily negative, just very different to, but they had reasons to go to those countries. Sometimes it’s to do with the ethnicity of their background is Eastern European origin then you might be more inclined to go to an Eastern European country. If you’re an India person then probably India’s a good place to go. And it’s important that you speak to people who have been, and do your research and understand, and if you can get there in advance and check the place out, that is not always possible, the further afield it is, but certainly learn as much as you can, because you, if you don’t talk to people about it, then you really make pre, pre, you know, judgements. And I think you’ll be surprised by what is out there. You’ll come home and be shocked by what we do here when you see how it’s done in other countries.
Martin and Naomi went to the clinic is Spain expecting to use donor eggs with Martin’s sperm. But when they got there they were advised to use donor sperm as well. They decided very quickly to go for dual donor. Martin describes the next steps.
Despite a setback, Martin explains that everything was handled well and contrasted favourably...
Their treatment was successful first time and they conceived twins.
Susan also went for treatment in Spain. She had had many years of treatment for endometriosis and pelvic pain and unsuccessful attempts at egg donation in the UK. For her last treatment she decided to try Spain. Her doctor explained that there was a cultural difference in attitudes to donation in Spain; this meant that there was no shortage of donors.
Although her treatment was unsuccessful, Susan was very impressed with the level of care and the...
He was very interested you now to listen to... what I, you know my story. And... also quite sad I think that... and he actually got, went into a great deal of depth, you know, about the way they operate their egg donation programme. It is about the largest egg donation programme in the world and explained also the cultural attitude towards donation, egg donation. Well not just egg donation, organ donation in Spain, they have a very different cultural attitude that is very much more favourable to donating in general and they have no shortage of egg donors. And he, you know, explained some of the reasons for that, which was very interesting and also he got his team to together there to discuss my case and my notes before I went in order to seek their opinion beforehand, because normally they wouldn’t treat someone over 50, but they, because of my history, they said that they would make an exception and when you did, they actually do the examination in the office. So he had all the equipment there and I, when it is the actual person the top person if you like actually doing the investigations as well as you now deciding on the treatment and doing the treatment itself, you have got the continuity there and he knew exactly what he was looking for. You know he was interested. He actually identified adenomyosis in the uterus and I had always been told that they were fibroids and... he then sort of went into great depth about adenomyosis and infertility. So I had already looked at that a bit and now of course I have looked into that side of things in greater depth as well and very involved you know with adenomysis. So and you now he discussed the implications of that. And I was just amazed you know, that he was able to established that on an ultrasound. So, and I just thought well things are obviously considerably more advanced [laugh] in some places, you know where they can assess the state of the uterus and what is happening in the pelvis. You know look at the person’s history and then make a judgement you know, and tell the patient, you know, what the chances are. So... but whether he was more open with me because he knew I knew a lot about it. I mean that, that is a possibility. Whether he would have gone into that much detail with somebody that was not so well informed is hard to say. But I just thought that having that amount of information at their finger tips really from so many centres, because they, actually they combine the results in their programmes from several centres. So it is not just one centre working in isolation. It gives a huge advantage. So… the actual facilities were just absolutely amazing and the cost is a fraction, you know of what it is here. And I was thinking well how can they, how can they provide that. And why can’t we. You know?
Martin was aware from talking to other people that some are worried that care abroad would be “unregulated” or performed in the backstreets. Some of the other people we talked to said they would not have considered seeking treatment abroad because they would be worried about standards and concerned there might be a language barrier. Belinda said, “If you didn’t speak the language then how can you question the treatment they are offering you?”
However, Martin was involved in an infertility support group where he was able to share his experiences of researching treatment abroad. He described how important it was to do your homework about the country you are going to, the clinics on offer there and what their regulations are.
Martin described how important it is to do your homework about the country you are considering,...
Last reviewed July 2017.