In recent years, more and more couples have been seeking treatment overseas - while many have a positive experience, there are plenty of issues to consider when deciding if it’s right for you.
Why do couples choose to go abroad for fertility treatment, anyway? Well, many believe it to be cheaper, quicker and less hassle. But the reality is that there are increased health risks to mothers and babies, including multiple pregnancies, premature delivery and miscarriage. This ultimately can add significant cost to the NHS when couples return to the UK and long term health problem for both mother and baby.
Overseas, there are different guidelines regarding the number of embryos that can be implanted at one time – and twin or triplet pregnancies are more expensive due to the need for additional scans and longer hospital stays. More than 90% of triplets have low birth weights, putting them at risk of health complications, according to The Guardian.
For many women over the age of 40, donor eggs are needed to increase the chances of pregnancy with IVF, but since there’s a shortage of egg donors in the UK, it’s quicker for some couples to seek treatment abroad.
An article by the Daily Mail, published in 2016, spoke of the crippling effect that older women with complicated pregnancies were having on the NHS as thousands of women go to clinics in other countries each year to seek fertility treatment (which is free for anyone up to the age of 43 in the UK). Doctors explained how older women are much more likely to have miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, along with a higher risk of their children being born with genetic abnormalities. Midwives warn that there is huge pressure on the NHS as the pregnancies have more complications, take up much more resource and the outcomes are poorer.
Why are women starting families at an older age?
The shift towards older motherhood is largely due to women delaying having children while they establish their career. Financial security is a big factor – rising house prices and a general increase in the cost of living mean that, in many respects, it makes a lot of sense to start a family later on in life.
Some believe that there are many benefits to delaying motherhood, arguing that having more skills and confidence in their ability and greater financial stability make for better parenting. The rate of babies born to women aged 45 and over in England is up by more than a third in six years. However, the downside is that fertility decreases rapidly over the age of 35. YOu also need to take care that you do not crossing the age limit for NHS treatment may limit the options for fertility treatment.
So, if you’re considering going abroad for fertility treatment, there are a number of things you need to consider before catching a flight. Be sure that you understand the complications that could arise from seeking overseas treatment and get clued-up on any arrangements made under foreign law that might not be legally binding in the UK. Responsibility for after-care, the rights of children born using donor eggs or sperm and parental rights, particularly if you and your partner are not married or are same sex - can differ in other countries.
Looking into fertility treatment and wondering how you might budget for it? Download our Fertility Finance Checkerto help you calculate the potential costs.