Why are so many British women traveling abroad for affordable IVF? As fewer women receive funding for their fertility treatments, they seek IVF overseas.
Sarah Davies had been struggling to conceive for two years, and when she finally decided to undergo IVF, she realized it was not immediately accessible to her on the UK National Health Service (NHS). There was a long waiting line and she could not afford to lose any more of her precious years of declining fertility.
“I wanted to have the opportunity to have my own children,” she said “but it seemed to get more difficult with every passing day.”
Eventually, she found the solution while browsing through a fertility forum and decided to consider IVF in Denmark.
“Apparently, it is quite normal now to travel overseas for IVF. For us, the decision was mainly about the cost. We could not afford private IVF and NHS was taking way too long,” Davies said.
For most people getting IVF on NHS is like winning a lottery. Infact, there have been reports of people shifting houses to be considered for IVF on the NHS.
Will I qualify for IVF on the NHS?
Only your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) can determine whether or not your IVF cycle can be financed by the NHS.
There are some guidelines set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) about that will loosely help you understand your qualification for NHS-funded IVF.
However, each year, the NHS funding grants for IVF are becoming less available.
As many as 63% of the patients did not receive the NHS aid and had to privately fund their IVF cycles in 2021, according to the Preliminary UK statistics for IVF report, published by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)—UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research.
It is not just due to higher number of infertility cases as even the number of NHS-funded IVF cycles went down significantly.
Overall, only 20,000 IVF cycles were funded by the (NHS) in 2021, down 16% from 24,000 cycles in 2019.
NHS IVF criteria
According to NICE, if you’re under 40 years of age, you may be eligible for three rounds of IVF on the NHS.
If you’re over 40 but under the age of 42, you can have one cycle of NHS-funded IVF, as long as you meet the below criteria:
- Trying for a baby for two or more years or had atleast 12 unsuccessful rounds of artificial insemination
- Have adequate ovarian reserve
- Never tried IVF before
They also require you to be aware of the implications of the treatment for women over 40.
In addition, the local CCG in your area may have their own requirements such as a condition for non-smoking or couples with no previous children.
Your local CCG might also have some of their own criteria; for example, they might only offer NHS-funded IVF or fertility treatment to those who don’t already have children, or to non-smokers.
To see if you qualify for IVF with the NHS, you must check with your CCG and your GP.
Other reasons for British women to travel abroad for IVF
- Long wait list – After undergoing all the tests, scans, consultations, etc. even if you qualify for the NHS grant for your IVF, you will be wait-listed. While waiting times are different in different areas, it could take months before you get to see your fertility doctor. Some fertility clinics in England claim to see their patients within 7-8 weeks of being referred while in Scotland, at the Edinburgh Fertility Center says their patients have to wait for 52 weeks or almost a year. Female fertility declines with growing age and for a woman, who’s already struggling to conceive, waiting for years might mean further decreasing her chances of IVF success.
- Expensive IVF – The cost of IVF in London is around to £9,000, whereas in other areas like Birmingham and Manchester, it’s around £7,000. This does not include the cost of medications, freezing, disposables, etc., which can add up to another £1,500 to £2,000
- Third party reproduction – If you need donor gametes—sperm or egg—you may be shelling even more out-of-pocket. Donor egg IVF in London could cost upto £12,000 without factoring in the medications and disposables.
How many IVF cycles are required?
According to the HFEA report cited above, the success rates of IVF with fresh embryo transfer in the UK were under 35% for the year 2021.
While success in IVF depends on your individual factors as well as your doctor’s skill and clinic’s standards, the average success rate of under 35% means you might need 2-3 cycles to conceive successfully.
Where can I find affordable IVF?
The nearest, most affordable IVF for British people would be in Denmark, where we offer the full package at £3,500. We also offer IVF in Cyprus with one of the most experienced fertility experts in Europe and it costs around £5,000.
If you want to combine it with a little holiday, we have excellent facilities for IVF in Malaysia (£3,800) and Thailand (£5,500).
With affordable pricing, better facilities, and no-waiting lines, it is no surprise that more British women are traveling abroad for affordable IVF, but you must exercise due diligence before finalizing a fertility clinic/doctor.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: Fertility treatment 2021: preliminary trends and figures – https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2021-preliminary-trends-and-figures/