08May/18

Expensive IVF in Alberta leaves couples dejected; they still have options

The cost of IVF in Alberta, Canada, runs up to a whopping $20,000 per cycle and it is a real hurdle for infertile couples in the state, reports the CBC.

35-year-old Lindsay Mundorf and her husband were told that IVF is their only option, after they tried and failed to conceive for eight years.

A single cycle of IVF in Alberta will set you back by $13,000, without the medications and doctor’s fee which could cost up to another $7,000.

The Lacombe couple, like many others in the state, are dejected as the cost of IVF is out of their financial means. “We can’t afford it. So I don’t know what to do,” Mundorf told the CBC. “It’s really disheartening. It’s been a very big struggle.”

 

Fewer takers for expensive IVF

Dr. Joseph O’Keane of the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary says this is a common problem. He told Jennifer Lee of CBC that the number of IVF cycles at his clinic has dropped by 7 percent in the last year, because many people struggle to collect money for IVF.

“Every day I see couples really upset because they can’t afford treatment. It’s really quite heartbreaking,” he said.

 

IVF grants don’t really help

Hejdi Carlsen Feick, president of Generations of Hope, a Calgary-based charitable organization that provides grants to couples seeking IVF treatment is also despondent over the dwindling numbers of people seeking help.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” says Feick, who believes fewer people are asking for IVF funding now because even after the grant, the cost of IVF remains too high to be afforded by an average couple. “…people can’t afford it. If I give you $3,000 towards your IVF treatment, you still have many thousands of dollars left to find on your own.”

The charity saw an increase in number of applications just after recession, but since then the numbers declined and never recovered.

“We are seeing half and even some months less than half,” Feick said.

 

Provincial funding for IVF not likely soon

Looking at the couples stressed about IVF costs, people like Dr. O’Keane and Carlsen Feick have been after the Alberta Government to allow funding for IVF, like they do in Ontario.

However, weak economy makes it unlikely.

“While we currently do not provide coverage for IVF treatments, this is something that our government may consider as the economy recovers. However, at this time, we’re focused on ensuring that we’re improving the delivery of our publicly insured services while working to reduce wait times,” says Alberta Health.

Basic tests like hormone and semen analysis are covered by the agency but the real cost of IVF is not touched.

People from the industry are unhappy about how finances are dictating parenthood dreams for so many infertile couples in Canada.

“We really don’t believe that your financial situation should dictate whether you get to become a parent or not,” said Carlsen Feick.

 

Why don’t you consider IVF abroad?

The cost of IVF in Malaysia starts at about $4,500—at of the country’s best clinics; the one run by the most experienced doctors in Asia and Australia, and boasting possibly the highest success rates in IVF we know of.

Cost of IVF in Thailand starts around $7,500 at a JCI-accredited hospital.

Similarly, IVF in India costs between $3,700 and $5,500.

You can get a virtual consultation from our trusted doctors and the complete treatment plan before traveling by contacting us here.

These prices are inclusive of stimulation medication, procedure costs, doctor’s fee, media and disposables, etc. As we know, lodging and food in Asia is relatively cheap and $1,000 – $1,500 should easily cover the entire 15-20 day stay required for your IVF treatment.

In the $20,000 that you will spend on a single cycle of IVF in Canada, you can easily get 3-4 chances of IVF in another place, which also means you have 4 times the chance of conceiving.

 

To know more about your options for affordable IVF, please write to us via the blue form.

Related read: 5 ways to reduce IVF costs

27Apr/18

Scot mom stole £92,000 from employer to pay for IVF

A Scottish woman was so desperate to expand her family that she embezzled more than £92,000 from the company she worked for, so she could pay for expensive IVF treatments.

37-year-old Debbie Stevenson was a bookkeeper at The Pitreavie Group in Glenrothes, Scotland. She already had a son, but her desire to have another child got her to rip off tens of thousands from her employer.

She started stealing in August 2014 and initially used the money to pay for her expensive infertility treatments.

 

Stealing for expensive IVF treatment

It seems she was getting her IVF treatment in Greece, and it naturally involved a lot of money. Anybody who has been to a fertility clinic would know that the cost of IVF does not easily fall within the financial means of everyone.

Debbie’s IVF journey proved successful and she delivered twins in 2015; however, the deception did not end there. She continued to steal from the firm and embezzled a total of £92,181.64 between 2014 and January 2017.

According to the Daily Mail report, her solicitor Scott McKenzie said: “She started embezzling from the company primarily to fund IVF treatment.”

He added that her IVF treatment involved significant costs, but gave no reason why she continued to steal even long after her twins, who are now two-and-a-half years, were born.

 

Solicitor’s justification

Her older son is now 18 years. Debbie and her solicitor said that she feared that the fraud could land her in prison and cause her to be separated from her children.

“She did end up under significant financial pressure,” said her solicitor, adding that Stevenson’s husband was studying to be an engineer.

He also told the court that Debbie was guilty and embarrassed about what she had done, especially in relation to the company’s director.

“She does realize the company suffered financial losses,” he said.

Also, she realizes that this is a serious offence, but explained that the risk of her repeating the offence was low and that her family would be in problem if she was put behind the bars.

“As far as the twins are concerned, there is no familial support in the area,” said the lawyer. “Her husband works full time. He would have to give up his work to look after the children.”

Sheriff Gilchrist postponed the sentence for three weeks so the suitability of a restriction of liberty order over Stevenson’s home in Boldon Colliery, Tyne and Wear, can be assessed.

Many people travel for affordable IVF in Thailand, India, Malaysia, or Eastern Europe, as IVF expenses are a common concern and the tight NHS rules for granting IVF funding are rather restrictive and disappointing.

You can also consider some of these ways to reduce IVF costs.

 

Related reads:

NHS – IVF funding may be refused if your Husband is Overweight

NHS IVF funding: Relocating for ‘IVF postcode lottery’

 

If you have comments or thoughts on this story, please share them below
06Apr/18

Sarah Jessica Parker’s IVF Journey

Sarah Jessica Parker, star of ‘Sex and the City’, joins many female celebrities who have come forward to share their stories about infertility and their journey through IVF treatment. Let’s take a look at Sarah Jessica Parker’s IVF journey.

Parker, like many women suffered from secondary infertility. This is when you struggle to conceive after already giving birth to a child. This can be quite unexpected if you had no problems conceiving your first child.

However, secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 3.6 million women in the US alone were reported to be suffering from secondary infertility in the period between 2006 and 2010.

 

SJP’s first pregnancy

Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick conceived their first son naturally. James Willkie Broderick was born in October 2002, when Parker was 37 years old.

The experience of giving birth was a magical and life changing one for Parker. Speaking about the birth of James, she said, “I only got to give birth once. I would give birth as often as I could, if I could.”

Sadly, despite conceiving at an older age with her son, Parker and her husband experienced secondary infertility problems when trying to give James a sibling.

Choosing to expand their family

Following the birth of their son, Parker and Broderick were keen to expand their family. Parker grew up as one of eight siblings and she was always passionate that James should not be an only child. Speaking of James, she stated that “I didn’t want him to have to shoulder the burden of us later in life, by himself.”

The couple tried unsuccessfully to conceive again for many years. As Parker told US Vogue magazine, “We tried and tried and tried and tried to get pregnant; it just was not to be.”

 

Sarah Jessica Parker’s IVF – surrogacy

The ‘Sex and the City’ star has never publically revealed what her exact fertility issues were or how many cycle of IVF did the couple go through. However, during the period of time that they were trying to conceive, Parker did turn 40.

As fertility declines with advancing age, this could have affected her chances of conceiving. In fact, age can be a common cause of secondary infertility, given that women are now waiting until they are much older to start their families.

Also, success with IVF over the age of 40 can be difficult when using a woman’s own eggs.

“We’ve been trying to expand our family for a number of years and we actually have explored a variety of ways of doing so. [Surrogacy] was one of the things we discussed with seriousness that had real possibilities for us,” she said in an interview with Access Hollywood.

When prodded about the disappointment in not being able to conceive, SJP said, “Yeah, I mean, I couldn’t pretend otherwise … It would be odd to have made this choice if I was able to, you know, have successful pregnancies since my son’s birth.”

However, they must have other issues as Parker and her husband ultimately decided to use a surrogate to carry another child for them.

 

Did SJP get pregnant with donor eggs

If you announce pregnancy at 44, it is likely that you will be questioned about the use of donor eggs. One of the main reasons for IVF failure and for not being able to conceive after a certain age is that the quality of a woman’s eggs declines as she ages.

However, there have been instances of women conceiving with their own eggs in their forties and even though less probable, it is not impossible.

Besides, what are the chances of you being a Hollywood celebrity and opting to freeze your eggs when they were still good? It’s a common trend and SJP certainly must have the means to do it.

Not that we are claiming we know the truth behind SJP’s fertility treatment choices, but if someone chooses to not speak about whether or not they opted for donor eggs or why they had to go with a surrogate, it should be respected.

 

Decision of hiring a surrogate

While some people accused that SJP’s work commitments (a sequel to the Sex and the City movie was under production at the time) might have caused them to go the surrogacy way, SJP never revealed what it exactly was.

In 2008, when Parker was aged 43, they chose Michelle Ross as their surrogate. Parker said, of her choice to use a surrogate:

“I knew there would be lots of opinions about, ‘Well, why didn’t you adopt? Why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that?’ and the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t one or the other for us.”

“We had explored, and continue to explore all options, and this one just happened first. This isn’t the period at the end of the sentence.”

Parker and Broderick were delighted when they found out that their surrogate was in fact carrying twin girls! Although Parker did struggle with trying to keep the pregnancy a secret, saying that “We couldn’t talk about the fact that we were having children to anybody for sooo long!”

“All the stuff that matters is secretive and worrisome. You can’t talk about how you feel about the woman who’s carrying your children; you can only talk to your husband.”

 

SJP’s surrogate was hounded by the press

Due to SJP’s high profile career, once their surrogate was named, she was hounded by the press. Michelle Ross was subjected to behavior such as being followed and having her personal phone and computer hacked.

This culminated in a former police chief being jailed after breaking into Ross’s house and taking photographs of her surrogacy file, including ultrasound pictures, in order to sell these to the press.

During this time, Parker was understandably stressed that there was little she could do to protect her surrogate and unborn babies.

She said that it keeps her from sleeping every night. “It’s really incredibly upsetting to think of her so far away and me not being able to do something, beyond what I’m legally allowed to do,” she said.

 

Birth of Sarah Jessica Parker’s twins

Despite the harassment throughout the pregnancy, the twins, Marion Loretta Elwell Broderick and Tabitha Hodge Broderick, made a healthy entrance into the world in June 2009.

During an interview with Vogue magazine in 2010, Parker spoke of the experience of surrogacy, stating, “Meeting your children rather than giving birth to them, it’s as if, um, it’s suspended animation. The gestational experience is gone,” adding, “it’s so different, and equally extraordinary… But it’s amazing.”

If, like Sarah Jessica Parker, you are also suffering from secondary infertility, then be aware that there are many options available to you to help you to expand your family.

Whether it is through IVF treatment, surrogacy, IVF using donor eggs or other methods of ART—treatment for secondary infertility is available.

Be sure to look into your options carefully to make sure that you make the right choice for you and your family.

Reading about Sarah Jessica Parker’s own experience and how she overcame her fertility hurdles, may help you to feel less alone in what you are going through and also to provide a more positive outlook at the start of your own journey.

 

Do you have anything to say about Sarah Jessica Parker’s IVF journey? Please share below
22Mar/18

NHS – IVF funding may be refused if your Husband is Overweight

While on a cost-cutting spree, the UK NHS has made many changes to the criteria for IVF funding over the last few years. The latest cutback means that NHS IVF funding may be refused if your husband is overweight.

Does the weight of the male partner significantly affect chances of IVF success and is this exclusion criterion fair?

 

Local CCG’s cut NHS IVF funding

The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) make NHS funding decisions at a local level. Given that their budgets are constantly shrinking, CCGs are cutting their services to account for this.

The axe has largely fallen on fertility treatments in the last few years, with some CCGs cutting down the number of cycles that they fund and others stopping IVF funding entirely.

They have reasoned that as fertility treatment is a non-urgent service, it is a viable area to save money. However, this decision gives little thought to the emotional and mental well-being of couples that are denied this potentially life changing treatment.

Some women have actually resorted to relocating from their home in order to qualify for IVF funding. Given the high costs of IVF treatment, this decision may be an easy one.

Local CCGs have introduced several criteria for couples to qualify for IVF funding, including:

  • Being in a particular age range
  • Being a non-smoker
  • The woman being a healthy weight
  • Neither partner having children from this, or a previous relationship

 

Effect of BMI on sperm quality

More recently, some CCGs are insisting that the male partner should be within a healthy weight range.

The Bath and North East Somerset CCG are one of the first to introduce this controversial new criterion. They have stated that males whose BMI falls over 30 will be refused treatment. Around one-fifth of the British male population would fall into this category.

The CCGs of West Cheshire and Devon have also introduced similar criteria based on the male’s BMI.

Access to IVF funding is already restricted based on the woman being within a healthy weight range. However, research shows that being overweight can significantly affect a woman’s chance of conceiving.

Besides affecting your chances of conceiving, obesity may also affect your response to fertility treatment. Weight loss in obese women has proven to improve the outcome of both spontaneous pregnancy and fertility treatment.

The NICE guidelines do state: “males with a BMI of 30 or over should be informed that they are likely to have reduced fertility.”

However, there is no conclusive evidence that shows that a male’s weight will affect his sperm quantity and quality. In fact, research suggests that, while a high male BMI can negatively affect the reproductive hormone levels, only an extremely high level of obesity may significantly affect a male’s chances of conceiving.

The measurement of BMI itself is also suggested to be a flawed representation of whether or not a person is overweight. This is because it does not take into account the composition of the body, for example, if a person is particularly muscular they may have a high BMI whilst having little body fat.

Therefore, the decision to withdraw the option of NHS IVF funding entirely from couples who fall into this category is a controversial one, which does not appear to be supported by any hard evidence.

 

NHS IVF postcode lottery

What is very difficult to understand is just how much the criteria for NHS IVF funding can vary depending on your location within the UK.

As mentioned before, Bath and North East Somerset, West Cheshire and Devon CCGs have all stated that NHS IVF funding will be refused for males with a BMI over 30. However, the East of England CCG only refuses funding for males with a BMI over 35.

In other areas of the UK, for example Bristol, overweight males are not refused treatment, but instead referred to weight loss groups prior to commencing their treatment.

This seems like a viable option to help overweight males become healthier, whilst still receiving the treatment they require. However, the issue with this is the extra cost to the NHS, when funds are dwindling.

Obviously shrinking funds mean that services need to be restricted within some areas of the NHS. However, the inconsistent funding of IVF between different areas of the UK provides an unfair system, which has been aptly dubbed the ‘IVF postcode lottery’.

Because of this, many couples seeking IVF treatment opt to travel to Asia, to undergo IVF in India, Malaysia and Thailand.

 

What do you think about the refusal of NHS funding if your husband is overweight? Please share in the comments below.
18Mar/18

Celine Dion’s Infertility Struggle & 7 IVF cycles

Celine Dion’s infertility struggle and her long journey of IVF treatments is certainly an inspiring story to read. The ‘Titanic’ singer had much passion and determination to start and expand her family, but she had to undergo numerous failed attempts at IVF until she finally succeeded.

Celine had always been eager to start a family of her own. As the youngest of fourteen siblings, she was always surrounded by family. Thanks to her determined fight, she is now the mother of three sons, all conceived through IVF treatment.

Celine’s sons René-Charles, 17, and twins Nelson and Eddy, 7, are her pride and joy. Notwithstanding her massive success in the music industry, Celine states that becoming a mother is the achievement that she is proudest of.

The starting of Celine Dion’s infertility battle

Celine and her husband, René Angélil, did not expect to have trouble conceiving when they first started trying for a family. Given that Celine was in her early 30’s at the time, the couple were surprised when they encountered problems. After trying for several years, they had still not become pregnant.

René was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999 and at this point the couple decided to freeze some of his sperm. This was a precaution in case the chemotherapy and radiation that he desperately needed caused any damage to his sperm in the future.

Fertility tests carried out prior to the sperm freezing, showed that René already had a low sperm count and low motility. Thus, explaining their struggle in trying to conceive naturally. There can be many reasons for a low sperm count in men, and the exact reason hard to determine in many cases.

Based on these findings, fertility doctors recommended that in order for them to have a chance at conceiving, they would need help in the form of ICSI treatment.

 

Celine’s first born son, René-Charles

Due to the couple’s problems with infertility, Celine was checked into a New York fertility clinic in May 2000, where she given two small operations to boost her chances of conceiving.

This was believed to be in preparation for Celine starting IVF treatment. Dion, 31 at the time, went on a sabbatical for 2-3 years.

Celine and her husband underwent their first round of IVF treatment when she was just 33. This cycle was successful and on 25 January 2001, their first son René-Charles was born.

Celine’s obstetrician, Dr Ronald Ackerman, who helped to deliver René-Charles by Caesarean section, told People Magazine that “everybody was just crying tears of joy” at the birth.

 

Celine Dion IVF failure

Following the much anticipated birth of their first son, Celine and René were very keen to provide René-Charles with a brother or sister and to expand their growing family again.

They had in fact opted to freeze their remaining embryos from their first IVF cycle, for use in later treatments.

However, their attempts to conceive for a second time were much more traumatic and lasted a lot longer. In fact, Celine has revealed that she had to have six rounds of IVF before she had a second successful pregnancy.

She has also stated that she turned to acupuncture as a complementary measure to increase her likelihood of conceiving with IVF. Research suggests that acupuncture may indeed increase chances of a successful pregnancy.

Celine said in an interview:

“I thought as long as my health permitted me and unless my doctor thought physically I couldn’t do it, then I would go on with the IVF until someone told me to stop.”

She sadly suffered a miscarriage in 2009 during her many attempts at IVF. Even more heart-breaking, this embryo was the one that Celine had frozen after her first IVF cycle. Shortly after the miscarriage, Celine said, “It happens in life, in general, and people who are not on the TV or in the newspapers, they go through this all the time.”

Below is a Mother’s Day Message from Celine’s sons:

 

A post shared by Céline Dion (@celinedion) on


Still grateful

The miscarriage was hard but Celine kept it to herself for a while, saying: “They said that I was pregnant, and a couple of days after, we were not pregnant again.

“We didn’t want to feel like we were playing yo-yo—I’m pregnant. I’m not pregnant. I’m pregnant. I’m not pregnant—so we didn’t want to do this thing. But we did have a miscarriage.”

She remained grateful however. “I will be the happiest one to tell you when I’m pregnant. And if not, I’m the luckiest artist, especially wife and mother of a wonderful son. So I’m glad.”

 

Successful twin pregnancy

Celine and René’s sixth IVF cycle proved to be successful for them. In 2010, at the age of 42, Celine announced that she was pregnant with fraternal twins.

She also revealed that she had originally been carrying triplets, however she sadly lost one of the babies early on in the pregnancy.

Celine spoke about her loss, saying, “He chose to let go to give space to his brothers to grow.”

Celine and René’s, twin sons, Nelson and Eddy were born healthy at 33 weeks by Caesarean section, after signs indicated that Celine was going into premature labour.

When questioned about being a mum to newborn twins, Celine said “It’s a great challenge and it’s all amazing. All day I’m in my pyjamas and it’s overwhelming but all good”.

Loss of her husband

Celine has mentioned in various interviews after the birth of her three sons, that she would love to try for more children, especially in the hopes of having a daughter to complete her family.

“It’s selfish to keep wanting more, although I would love a girl. Imagine all the shopping, the jewellery, the shoes, the dresses I could give to her” she says.

 Sadly, in 2016, Celine lost her husband René after his long battle with throat cancer.

Celine Dions’s infertility journey has clearly been difficult. Even though she had enough money for IVF treatments, the emotional and physical cost of infertility is something she had to bear like other women.

We admire the singer for being open and upfront about her battle with infertility over the years and hope other people do not give up hopes of having a family.

No matter how disheartened you feel, there must be an option out there for you. Affordable IVF in Thailand, India, Malaysia, or Spain; the use of donor eggs; surrogacy; embryo adoption; or at last, simply the adoption of your child—be open minded and see what choice works best for you to complete your family.

What do you think about Celine’s IVF journey? Share your comments below: