When you are considering going through IVF treatment to help you have your first baby or to grow your family – cost is of course a consideration.
However, the up-front financial costs of IVF treatment are by no means the only costs you should consider.
Having your own specialist
Choosing a cut-price, no frills IVF clinic means you forfeit your right to have your own specialist. It may often mean most of the care provided during your IVF treatment does not even involve a gynaecologist (let alone a RANZCOG certified fertility specialist).
However in their public materials, online and via social media, no frills clinics often use language that is actually quite deceptive, inferring their service is in some way equal to world class, full service care.
To become a CREI certified fertility specialist is no mean feat. The first step, having completed the challenging RANZCOG clinical and written examinations required of all obstetrician/gynaecologists is to be selected to the RANZCOG CREI subspecialty-training program. Subspecialty candidates have at least 6-year post graduate medical experience by this stage, and often more. The selection process is highly competitive. CREI subspecialists complete at least 3 further years of advanced training in the areas of male and female infertility and IVF, working in multiple IVF units across Australia. They become expert fertility surgeons and graduate having passed a further series of challenging examinations to ensure their standards are world class.
When considering the costs of IVF treatment, I strongly encourage couples to consider the cost to them of foregoing personalised, attentive, expert care from their own CREI subspecialist. Entering the mass production line style of IVF provided by a no frills model – aside from a lower clinical level of care, you may feel very much personally disempowered. Entering an IVF factory style clinic may even mean couples have not been offered access to the full range of less invasive, non-IVF fertility treatment options as these methods often require subspecialist expertise.
IVF success rates
Many infertile couples far removed from the “average”. No frills fertility clinics may falsely elevate their success rates by excluding couples with the most challenging problems from treatment. Conversely a top sub-specialist may be often sought out by couples with the most serious problems, where IVF success will be much harder fought. There are real concerns that in IVF factory style clinics where IVF is the only treatment available, over-treatment may occur, using IVF in women with ovulatory problems (e.g. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS) . With specialist care, many such women could avoid IVF altogether.
Time to conception
Other IVF costs are important and can be affected by getting the best treatment, in the best hands – first time.
These include precious time – how long it takes to conceive. This can in turn affect whether it may be possible to have more than one child, and to achieve the age interval between their children that parents want. Getting the best treatment may also make a huge difference in terms of stress, your confidence and your whole experience of IVF.
All the bells and whistles
Going through IVF is not easy. The best IVF units invest heavily in research and in the latest technologies to ensure patients receive world class care. It’s not like flying business versus economy as in this analogy, all clients reach their chosen destination. Sadly, not all couples that embark on IVF, even in the best hands, will be able to have a baby. Some problems are insurmountable, but many fertility problems are multifactorial and where all elements are recognized and optimized, can be overcome.
Of course being associated with a full service clinic like Melbourne IVF also means having treatment in a very comfortable and private environment, and having top quality staff.
Affordability of IVF is an important issue, but in many cases, cutting corners can be a very false economy.