Ten things you need to know if you are due to travel to Spain to have your heterologous IVF treatment
Clear and fixed prices. Avoid using low-cost clinics. Quotes that initially appear to be cheap, can end up getting expensive. Open-ended prices and tariffs are a risk that can push the end price up quite significantly. Choose a clinic that inspires confidence in you, that has all-inclusive prices and a highly professional team of human resources and avant-garde technical resources, where each patient is treated individually. Many clinics use low prices to lure patients in and these low prices end up turning into expensive ones because many essential things that you will need are not included. Furthermore, these clinics’ success rates are lower because they use standard courses of treatment and substandard resources.
Not all clinics are the same. Before you travel, get informed and choose an assisted reproduction clinic with high and certified pregnancy rates, as well as quality standards that are audited by independent certifying bodies. Whilst Spain does have a good reputation, we must not generalise. Not all clinics have accredited experience, nor are they experts in egg donation. Instituto Bernabeu is the clinic that is best positioned in terms of these two parameters. It has 6 clinics, the two largest of which are in Madrid and Alicante.
Demand maximum compatibility with the egg donor. Whilst Spanish law means you cannot be told the donor’s identity, choose a reliable clinic where they will ensure that your donor’s traits are as similar as possible to yours. Find out if the clinic has a specialised egg donation department where careful selection of the egg donor is carried out and where the largest possible number of genetic tests are done so that the possibility of your baby inheriting any of them is ruled out. You can now request a GCT to analyse the 600 most common genetic disorders. Some clinics provide this as an additional service whilst others include it in the price.
Fresh transfer always gives an increased guarantee of success. Results are slightly better if ova are not frozen. Therefore, if you wish to undergo fresh oocyte transfer, choose a clinic that gives you this guarantee. The procedure consists of synchronising ova retrieval from the donor and transfer to the patient. The clinic’s experience in synchronising both courses of treatment correctly and the option of a waiting list is something that you should take into account. For example, at Instituto Bernabeu, 94% of all ova transfers are fresh transfers.
Success guarantee. There is a programme in Spain that gives you a 100% pregnancy guarantee up until it is time to give birth. It aims to provide patients with the emotional peace of mind provided by a clinic that includes all the tests at a fixed price and a money-back arrangement should you not achieve a viable pregnancy after having opted for the pregnancy guarantee programme.
Personalised service in your mother tongue. Choose a clinic with a department that deals with international patients, that converses with you in English and that assigns you a personal assistant with whom you can remain in contact at all times. You never know when you might need them to answer your questions and it’s important to know from the outset that you will be dealt with personally at all times and in your mother tongue.
The length of time you will need to spend abroad. If it is an experienced clinic, you may only need to be there for one day for transfer if they already have your partner’s sperm. You can decide if you wish to be present at the first visit when your treatment is designed or if you prefer to have a conversation with your gynaecologist using a video conference system or Skype. If you travel to the clinic for the appointment, take the opportunity to provide the sperm sample for cryopreservation. A frozen sample can also be sent from the UK. Another option consists of carrying out entirely fresh treatment. In this case, you will need to be at the clinic on the egg retrieval day so that in vitro fertilisation with the semen can be carried out, and you will also need to be there on the transfer day. There may be a gap of between 3 and 6 days between them. If the clinic has good blastocyst generation rates, they will wait for more mature embryos before transfer, thus increasing the chances of a positive pregnancy test.
You can travel following transfer. You don’t need to wait. Several articles endorse travel by car or train.
Pregnancy test at home. You will not need to return to Spain in order to do your pregnancy test.
If you have specific issues, look for applied research and solvency. If you have undergone several courses of failed treatment, it is possible that you may suffer from implantation failure. Choose a clinic with experience in research applied to its patients and a genetics department that will study your own personal case.