In your initial decision-making process about the type and location of the fertility clinics you want to consider, you may find it useful to use our general guidelines on comparing fertility clinics. An important part of this process involves deciding whether you will have fertility treatment close to home or whether you will travel abroad for treatment, either for cost reasons, or because you want to combine your treatment with a holiday.
If you decide that fertility treatment abroad is the path you want to follow, you need to start comparing fertility clinics using more specific criteria. You may want to compare different clinics within one particular country, or to look at a range of fertility clinics in different locations abroad that offer the fertility treatments you want.
When comparing fertility clinics, your ‘gut feeling’ about a clinic can be as important as the technical or financial details. Feeling positive about a clinic will make your fertility treatment less stressful and easier to cope with – and if you are less stressed, your chances of conception will be maximised.
When comparing fertility clinics abroad, try to speak directly to a member of the team that will be handling your treatment. In particular, you need to find out if there are any cultural or language barriers that may cause problems or that may leave you feeling isolated.
You may not be able to visit but you can phone or email a fertility clinic, whether it is 300 or 3,000 miles away. The way the clinic deals with your enquiry will give a good indication of the approach you can expect when you arrive.
Any reputable fertility clinic should be registered with, or licensed by, the statutory bodies in their home country, as well as their ministry or department of health. Unlicensed or non-accredited fertility clinics may offer treatment at very low rates, but they are simply not worth the risk. You will have very little legal comeback should anything go wrong.
Other standards to look out for when comparing fertility clinics are the international standard ISO9001 and the American JCI accreditation. Check our list of national and international bodies for the appropriate organisation for your chosen country, or read our article on standards and safety abroad.
In addition to comparing clinics’ credentials, you should also check the qualifications and experience of the specialists and other staff when comparing clinics. Read our guide to find out more about comparing qualifications . Many overseas gynaecologists will have trained in leading hospitals in the UK, USA or Europe and will have verifiable international qualifications. Staff should be happy to tell you about their qualifications and experience, as well as any specialist skills or training they have.
The best fertility clinics across the world have outstanding levels of equipment and facilities for their patients, and if money is no object, then comparing fertility clinics by quality may simply mean choosing the best. However, such clinics will inevitably charge the highest fees, and you may find that you don’t need such levels of luxury, or so much expensive equipment, for a simple, straightforward procedure.
As long as the fertility clinic is clean and comfortable, and has everything they need for your treatment, the rest may just be an unnecessary cost. However, if you are after a specific fertility treatment, one that is new to the market or one that requires specialist skills or equipment, then it is essential that you confirm that your chosen clinic can accommodate this.
Whichever standard of clinic you choose, however, you cannot put a price on cleanliness and safety, so always ask about overall infection rates as well as success rates when comparing fertility clinics.
The success rates for fertility treatment vary according to the nature of the infertility problem, the procedure used and the age and health of the partners or donors.
However, the skills and experience of the specialist and their team will also have an effect, so you should always look at success rates of individual treatments when comparing fertility clinics. Most reputable clinics will publish their success rates for the different treatments they offer. It is important that you should always exercise caution when directly comparing fertility clinics on success rate to ensure you are comparing like for like.
For example, a fertility clinic that treats only certain conditions, and limits treatment to younger women, will naturally have a higher success rate than one that tackles more challenging problems or serves a wider age range. Always check that the statistics quoted apply to your procedure and your age group.
Since fertility treatment is such a personal and emotive procedure, it can be difficult comparing clinics by raw statistics, qualifications and clinical equipment levels alone. The experience you have at the clinic can be just as important as the treatment itself, so it is important to ask to see testimonials when comparing fertility clinics.
The experiences of other women and couples, in similar situations to your own, can be invaluable in giving you an insight into the way the clinic operates and how they make their clients feel. Naturally fertility clinics will only show you their positive feedback, but a few minutes' searching online will soon tell you if there are any negative reviews too.
Once you have reduced your shortlist to recommended, reputable, registered clinics, with the right staff, the right levels of facilities and equipment for your needs and high success rates, you should ask each of the remaining clinics for a quote to help you make your final choice.
As with success rates, it is important to ensure that you are comparing fertility clinics on cost on a like-for-like basis, and that each quote includes the full range of costs. Impressive headline prices can often disguise a raft of added extras that make the price much less competitive.