This is a personal account of my experience and costs of IVF in Prague. There are many destinations for IVF abroad and there are many centres for IVF in Prague, this will focus solely on the clinic I used.
The IVF Clinic
The clinic we picked was called Gennet, we chose them after reading up on various places using forums on rollercoaster.ie and liked what people in Ireland had to say about them. They were also very reasonably priced and had experience working with GPs and scan centres in Ireland.
Gennet is based in the centre of Prague so is very easy to get to, public transport in general there is brilliant. The staff all speak English.
How does IVF abroad work?
First you email the clinic to get the ball rolling. Most of the initial communications are done via email and then a skype consultation with your named doctor. You are assigned a coordinator who you can email at any time with questions or queries and that person is usually in the clinic to meet you when you arrive and gives you updates as you go along by email. But before all that you get a patient form to fill out that details all your medical and fertility history of you and your partner which you can download here. You need to send them details of any previous tests, treatments, etc so they can tailor care specific to you. In my case, we only had blood results and follicle tracking scans to send as we had no previous treatments. Then they give you a list of tests they would like you to get done – usually blood tests and sometimes procedures like hysteroscopy. From there on, things can happen very quickly. Since we were there, the clinic has started to offer an Irish package which includes scans in Dublin and a coordinator in Ireland. If you are not near Dublin it might not suit. Click here for the latest pricelist from Gennet. You’ll see that the basic IVF package (price has increased from 1900euro to 2200euro since we were there) includes a lot of things that would be extra in Ireland such as ICSI, cultivation to blastocyst (day 5), freezing and storage of any extra embryos for 1 year. All these are very costly extras in Ireland. Apologies if you are not familiar with the IVF lingo, if you are considering going for IVF you probably do understand most of it though! Contact me if you have any specific queries!
Blood Tests for IVF
You are given a list of blood tests, I was able to get all of these done with my GP apart from AMH (has to be transferred to lab on ice) which they gave me a form for and it was done for free at my local public hospital – be careful as some of the blood tests need to be done at certain stages in your cycle and some need to be done close to actual treatment. You also need an ECG done (most GPs do these) to make sure you are fit for anaesthetic just before you go to Prague.
Medications for IVF
Each person gets a protocol tailored to their needs. You get prescriptions emailed to you which I brought to my GP who rewrote them. It’s really important to have a Drugs Payment Scheme card (information and application form here) so the maximum amount you pay for all the drugs is 144euro in a month. These medications are very expensive if you don’t have this card. You get a timetable telling you when to take each medication and what dose, it’s quite easy to follow. Sometimes this will be amended depending on your response so there might be a crazy dash to GP and pharmacy to get more of some medications – if your GP is willing to prescribe extra in the first place this is very handy. Some medications are oral, some are injections and some are pessaries. The injections are not too bad when you get the hang of them.
Ultrasound Scans for IVF
You need to have at least 2 follicle tracking scans to see how you are responding to the drugs. Gennet advise you when to get these scans and you email them the results. These scans look at your uterine lining and your ovaries to see how many follicles are developing. The prices in my table below are based on 2 scans in Ultrasound Dimensions in Blackrock. I can also recommend Scan Me in Mulligar which I used on other occasions.
When to travel to Prague during IVF treatment
You might only get 1-2 days notice to fly out which is why I advise flexible flights in paragraph below. It all happens very quickly once you start your medications – anything from 10 – 16 days. It’s up to you how long you want to spend in Prague. Most people fly over the day before egg collection and allow for up to 5 days from this for embryo transfer. Unfortunately there is the chance that there will be no embryos or they might recommend you transfer the embryos on day 3 instead of day 5 so again handy to have flexible flights an accommodation bookings.
Flights to Prague
We booked through Aer Lingus as they have a really useful Flex fare – this fare allows you to change your flight dates as many times as you like and you get check in luggage and access to the fab airport lounge in Dublin. I just had a quick look at the Aer Lingus website and found return Flex fares Dublin – Prague for 207.98euro per person flying out Mon 10th Oct and returning Fri 14th Oct. We got ours for 350euro in total for 2 people return in 2014 so it’s worth looking out for sales and booking any random dates as you can change them (even to a more expensive flight for no extra charge) at any time. At some times in the year Aer Lingus fly every day of the week to Prague, other off peak times they don’t fly every day so keep this in mind and check when booking. Ryanair do fly to Prague every day but their flexible option is not as flexible as the Aer Lingus one. Some people leave it until the last minute and book with Ryanair but there’s no guarantee that this will work out cheaper or that the flight won’t be fully booked.
Accommodation near the IVF clinic in Prague
The first time we went, we stayed in Jurys Inn which was adequate, rooms were perfect, walking distance (5 min) from clinic and right beside one of the main metro (underground train) stations Florenc. Breakfast wasn’t included but you could get breakfast cheaply nearby. The second time we stayed in the wonderful Design Elephant Hotel which I have just noticed by looking at their website has merged with the adjoining Grandior Hotel and will now go by Grandior name. As part of our stay, breakfast was included in the Grandior Hotel and it was definitely one of the highlights of every day (if you know me, you’ll know I love my food!). Breakfast was a big buffet of everything you could ever want including fresh omlettes cooked to order. The atmosphere heightened by the music from the grand piano player in the room – just amazing. The hotel is literally 2 minutes walk from the clinic when you go out the Grandior main entrance. Added to this the central nature of the clinic means you are right in the centre of Prague for all the sightseeing too – win win! So at the time we stayed in the Design Elephant Hotel, we booked through trivago.com (which sent us to amoma.com) for 2 people in a double room for 6 nights for a total of 350euro which included breakfast. It’s worth booking through a website that allows free cancellation or lets you amend your booking as dates are never set in stone with IVF. Some people also prefer to stay in an apartment as you have more freedom to stay in and cook, etc. There’s lots of options in the vicinity of the clinic. You can also stay further out of the city due to the excellent public transport network.
You are advised on what time to attend clinic for egg collection. I would advise finding the clinic the day before so there’s no stress the morning you have to be there. You will be fasting as they do the procedure under general anaesthetic. The first time we went, I felt very bloated and uncomfortable due to all the drugs and even walking slowly was very difficult. I actually looked pregnant! The second time I felt fine and had more eggs collected. With this in mind, you might be better getting a taxi to the clinic that morning. Your co-ordinator meets you at reception and brings you and your partner up to a room or a cubicle where you get a gown to change into. Then your partner is shown to another room to produce a sperm sample. When they are ready for you, you walk to a small theatre room where you sit up on the table and your legs go in stirrups (very glamorous!). You have an IV line put in and the next thing you know you are back in your room/cubicle with your partner beside you and it’s all over! I felt a bit tender and tired but that was it. They come along and remove your V line and make sure you can pass urine. Then they remove a massive tampon which was in place to stop any bleeding. You might have to wait around for a while depending on how busy it is for your coordinator and your embryologist to update you on how many eggs they got. Once this is done you’re let out and advised to rest up. The first time I went, I literally slept for the day and felt fairly rough. The second time I slept for a couple of hours and was able to go out for dinner that evening.
Unless your egg collection is on a Saturday (you won’t get an update on Sunday), you get an email every morning letting you know how many embryos you have and what size and quality they are. You will be refreshing that email from the moment you wake looking for your update! Sometimes it’s there first thing and sometimes it might be 11am. You literally can’t do anything with yourself until you’ve seen it! Once it’s in and all looks good you can head off sightseeing for the day and enjoy yourself. It really is like a holiday then.
So usually they transfer either 1 or 2 embryos (no more than 2) on day 3 or day 5 after egg collection. The general consensus is that it’s better to wait until day 5 as you can see which embryos are the strongest but if there aren’t many embryos they might recommend day 3 – it’s up to you whether you want to wait or not. The day they are transferred back is just lovely. Some people go for acupuncture before and after transfer. You arrive in and your coordinator brings you back up to one of the rooms. This procedure is quite straightforward as there’s no anaesthetic required and your partner is there with you. You do need a full bladder, so they can see everything on the scan, and that’s the most uncomfortable part! You get to see your embryo/s on a big screen in the little dish. Then they are put back into your uterus using a thin catheter and you see them go in too! It’s really amazing! You need to lie there for as long as possible after to give them a chance to get settled in – again the full bladder is a killer here. But that’s pretty much it, you’re done and what’s referred to as PUPO (pregnant until proved otherwise). Some people fly home that day and some wait until the following day, it can be tight for time.
The Two Week Wait following IVF
Definitely the most difficult part of the whole process. You have to continue taking medications, you start to imagine and feel all sorts of pregnancy symptoms thanks to the drugs. Two weeks after embryo transfer is when you do the dreaded pregnancy test. And that is it – you are either pregnant or you’re not… If you want to read how I got on you can check out this post.
Summary of Costs of IVF in Prague
I’ve just been reminded by one of my fellow Gennet ladies that I forgot to mention the discount! Basically, once you do a cycle with Gennet, they issue you a voucher for 10% off your next cycle. This can be used by you or you can pass it on to someone else if you wish.
*Disclaimer – I have not been asked to write this piece, I have no links with Gennet apart from having used them as a customer, all views are my own.
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