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Nicole the Fertile Chick: Cycling Home or Abroad

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This is the million-dollar question for a lot of couples…where to cycle for IVF. A few years ago, this was a question only for the very wealthy. With the main options, at the time, being Europe or the United States, it was bound to cost a pretty penny. But the common thinking then was that Nigerian hospitals were not able to properly handle an IVF cycle.

The year before I got married, a colleague’s sister cycled in one of the popular Nigerian fertility clinics and suffered such a bad case of ovarian hyper stimulation (OHSS) that she had to be flown out of the country. Her subsequent cycles were abroad. As this was the closest I had ever been to an IVF case, the impression that formed in my mind was that if you wanted a successful cycle, Nigeria was not the place for you. Of course, I didn’t give it too much thought as I didn’t expect to be on that road myself. But a few years later, there I was. Thankfully, by the time I opted for IVF, there were more than enough local success stories to dispel the gloom and doom myth. It was just as well, as financially, cycling abroad would not have been an option for me. And I’m glad I did cycle here, as it worked out well for me (albeit the second time around). Throw in the fact that some people I knew who did cycle abroad, had failed cycles, it further cemented my theory that it made no difference where you cycled, your odds where your odds…period!

I have to say that today, it is a rather different story. It is no longer the case that cycling abroad is more expensive than cycling locally. The prices from some fertility clinics in such places as India and Israel are rock bottom, to say the least, some of which are as low as a quarter the cost of a Nigerian cycle. And these clinics in question are not some backyard squats, but instead appear to be standard clinics, with fairly impressive success rates. Even some European locations, like Greece, Cyprus, and Prague (to name a few), have clinics with fast growing popularity, all of which seemingly work out cheaper than cycling in Nigeria.

Apart from these lower prices, they offer just the same cutting edge technology as you would find in the big fertility clinics in the UK and US, with the most impeccable customer service you could imagine. Quite a number of my friends have cycled with this popular clinic in Greece, and I have been blown away by the stories I have heard about its Medical Director, who cultivates a close relationship with her patients and monitors them all the way. On the face of it, it’s almost a no-brainer to go for these options. But there is much more to consider than just that.

If IVF was just a 1-day event, it would be a different story. But you are talking of a process that could last up to 8 weeks, not inclusive of preliminary consultations and testing. Some might argue for consulting via telephone and e-mail, and only travelling for the main event. Whilst this is possible, it is not advisable. Besides, a lot of these clinics refuse to accept Nigerian test results so, at some point, the intending couple will have to make its way to the clinic before their cycle actually commences. And when the process starts, you start the first round of injections. True, there are typically 3 weeks of inactivity until your period starts. But when your period starts, you have to have a scan to confirm that you are fully down regulated, and your womb lining is sufficiently thin. Almost immediately, you start the next round of stimulating injections, which require frequent scans to monitor follicular growth, and to prevent OHSS. This usually takes about 10 – 14 days. Then you have your egg extraction, wait a few days, have the embryo transfer, and then you have two weeks before a pregnancy test can confirm if the cycle has been successful or not. So basically, you either have to make multiple trips abroad, or commit to spending about 3 months of your life in this location, both of which options immediately cancel out the benefits of a cheaper cycle. Some people choose to make vacations out of the process, and plan their holidays around this schedule, especially for those cycling in exotic locations. If you can afford this, hey why not?! There has to be something for tempering the strain and stress of an IVF cycle with some sun and sand. But if not, then it’s just an additional expense to what is already an expensive process.

For me, I think that there is an added benefit to being in your own comfort zone through this process. Thankfully, there are a good number of Nigerian hospitals that have kept updated with cutting edge technology and offer almost the same quality of treatment you would get abroad. That makes it easier for people like me who prefer being around the familiar, especially when going through something as hard as IVF. The converse could also be the case, especially for people who are surrounded by stress. Being able to get away for this period could work out better in their favour. For the self employed, there’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you can afford it. But for the vast majority of people who are employed, taking multiple and/or extended time off is towing a very thin line. If you are lucky enough to get an extended leave of absence, it is important to also take into consideration the possibility of a pregnancy resulting from the process, which will also demand time away from work. For even the most understanding of employers, this will not be an easy sell.

My personal opinion is that unless you have extenuating circumstances, such as a complex medical history and/or condition, requirement of medical care not available locally, or have a hostile living environment, it is not worth the logistical nightmare to cycle abroad, even if you can afford it. If you’re worried about the quality of care and outcome, there are hospitals here that have excellent track records and success rates. If you think you will be saving money by going abroad, don’t forget to factor in travel and living expenses into your budgeting. At the end of the day, and this brings to me to my earlier opinion on the matter, regardless of where you cycle, your odds are still your odds.

Have a great week, everyone! Baby dust to all!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

23 Comments

  1. anonymous

    April 13, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Hmmm, dats interesting

  2. mz_daniels

    April 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Reading this, all I can think of is the fact that human life is precious. See what people go through just to have a child and then some people just shed blood anyhow. I’m sorry, still pissed at the rumors of deaths I heard.

    Baby dust to us all.

  3. Kay

    April 13, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Nicole. This is really informative. I recently did my cycle in Nigeria and glory to God it was successful first time around. Going abroad did not cross my mind because I knew a few people that had done it in Nigeria and were successful and I also knew of a few people who went abroad for theirs and had unsuccessful cycles. I don”t think where you do it determines the success, its all Gods timing. I also did not want to take too much time off work. I only had to take about 5 days off work in total. I took a day off for the egg collection, and then three days off for the transfer and to rest. My husband and I did not tell anyone about the cycle, we didn’t want the added anxiety from family members. The two weeks wait was the most torturing part, I don’t think I would have been able to handle calls from my family asking me ‘how far?’Once it was successful, we told our families and close friends. I pray all of those who are trusting God for the fruit of the womb shall conceive and carry their baby/babies to full term. Amen

    • Thank God

      April 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Kay, really happy for you. May God continue to bless you and your family, Amen.

    • Chige

      April 13, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Congratulations Kay. May you enjoy motherhood to the fullest and may your kids bring you joy and happiness.

    • Frances

      April 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Congrats on your success at the first trial. (I heard that it’s not very common for that to happen). If it’s not too intrusive for me to ask, can you please share which hospital/clinic you used. While I understand that it does not guarantee success for me, I would like to consider the hospital before I take the decision as to which to use.
      Many Thanks…

    • Kay

      April 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Please ignore the change in Avatar, my computer can’t store it. I did my cycle at Roding Reproductive centre in Lekki Phase 1. I was told IVF has a 25-30% chance of success. It was sad to hear but with God all things are possible. I wrote some personal positive prayer confessions which I confessed everyday. I knew I had to use the power of my tongue.

    • Eye

      April 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Congratulations Kay. If you don’t mind, could you please share your clinic name.

      Nicole, nice post. I was actually thinking of cycling abroad and have contacted the popular Clinic in Greece. My reason for cycling abroad is just based on the fact that my DH has refused to cycle in Nigeria for reasons best known to him.

      Whilst making plans to go to Greece, i will still try to convince him on cycling in Nigeria.

      Thanks Nicole

    • nicolefertilechick

      April 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Kay! Very well said! HUGE congrats on your successful cycle!

    • AAsh

      April 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Congratulations Kay; wishing you a healthy and happy months and a successful birth process.
      Amen in Jesus Name to your lovely prayers!

  4. missy

    April 13, 2015 at 10:24 am

    I have a friend who is mixed race and married to a mixed race person. They have a need for a donor, they are choosing to go abroad.. the odds of getting a donor that looks like either of them is greater elsewhere. Before they receive false mixed race (heavy bleachers) donor in nigeria and end up with a child that looks nothing like either husband or wife. Because i am sure not every doctor can tell who has changed their skin color and who hasnt given the advances in bleaching.
    Barring such circumstances Nicole makes a lot of sense.
    All that travel with ivf is even too much.

    • Author Unknown

      April 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Hmm. I’m assuming you are referring to a ‘sperm donor’. I hope your friends realise that the child they will produce with a black Nigerian donor will likely not look that different from what they would have produced naturally. They both carry black genes, and there’s no predicting what genes would end up dominant in the child. To each his own, and I hate to judge, but I almost suspect they have selective breeding mentality.

    • nicolefertilechick

      April 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks missy! I wish your friends all the best. Please ask them to be very careful and to make sure they use a good, reputable hospital.

  5. Chige

    April 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    All I have to say is Nicole keep up the good work educating and enlightening people who have found themselves battling with infertility. There really is nothing like getting advice from someone who has been there. I totally agree with you on your odds being your odds despite whether done here or abroad but like I tell my patients let your instincts guide you. If you feel you’ll do better abroad and you have the money,logistics and all taken care of,pls do so,if you’ve gone to the 9ja place and Ur spirit is at ease,go with them. Contrary to popular belief,everything abroad is not always necessarily better. And baby dust to all,may your miracles come sooner than later.

    • nicolefertilechick

      April 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Chige! You hit the nail squarely on the head!

  6. deb

    April 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I use this medium to pray for all looking up to GOD for their own children, I pray that GOD gives them their own children amen. I av 4 cousins (they are sisters) looking up to GOD for the fruit of the womb& I also had my 1st pregnancy last year so I know how traumatising the search is&mehn when IVF fails, it’s like losing a child. While doing the IVF too, I believe in GOD&prayers, I had to abstain from some kind of food&did a prayer every sunday as instructed by a prophet of GOD& a whole lot of other prayers telling GOD to give me my own child(given my family history) my child is 2 months today.

    • nicolefertilechick

      April 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks for sharing, deb! Congratulations on the birth of your child!

    • Anita

      April 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Deb, your testimony inspired me. Please I wanted to ask about what foods you avoided while ttc. Thanks

    • deb

      April 13, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Anita. I avoided bananas for four years. Bananas and plantain, Palmoil&beef. In as much as I believe in IVF tho it dint I also belief in seeking spiritual help. I pray GOD matches u all with the right men of GOD. I pray for all looking up to GOD for the fruit of the womb that their time will not pass them. GOD will make a way amen!!!

  7. Anita

    April 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Hey Nicole, thanks for the post. DH hasn’t agreed to cycle yet or even do an IUI. He is still hopeful that we will conceive naturally. Your posts are very enlightening. Cheers

    • nicolefertilechick

      April 13, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks, Anita. My DH was like that as well. Hopefully yours will come round soon! Good luck!

  8. Blessed

    April 13, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    enterthehealingschool.org/home/itv/index.php?c=HSL

    For those trusting God, you may be interested in the link above.

    well done, Nicole. you are doing an amazing Job. God bless you

  9. Mrs Darl

    April 13, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Dear Nicole,

    Thank you for keeping it real and creating a forum for couples battling infertility to find some succor..

    We tried for over 7 years to have a baby, In that space of time I had 7 gynecological surgeries, was told I could never have kids by myself ( oh…how devastating that was), I had 2 cycles both in Lagos.
    1st almost claimed my life as I had OHSS. I fell pregnant with twins 2nd time but lost one baby whilst still pregnant. Today I’m a mom to the most amazing 3 year old, and I’m thankful for the gift of motherhood.
    PS: my husband and I are both medical doctors and my husband has a post grad in Assisted Reproductive Technology from the prestigious Imperial College, London. So you can imagine our frustrations.

    I’m praying for as many as come on here to also have testimonies to share sooner than later.

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