IVF Costs and Options in Ireland
The World Health Organisation recognises infertility as a disease. And for women under 35 who are undergoing IVF, there’s a 60pc chance of getting pregnant.
Yet in the last European survey, Ireland and Lithuania were the only two EU countries not to offer state-funded assisted reproduction assisted reproduction.
Many Irish couples cannot afford the €4,000 to €6,000 fee per cycle of IVF!
Dr Mary Wingfield, clinical director and consultant gynaecologist at the Merrion Fertility Clinic, told independent.ie: “It’s the only medical condition that isn’t on the public system. Even plastic surgery is on the public system in Ireland.”
“Every country will have different restrictions as to the woman’s age or whether they’ve had it before. Most will limit it to a number of cycles. In Belgium, you’re allowed have six, in England, you can have three.”
“It is very expensive so countries have to make some restrictions, but Ireland is really unique. Right throughout the Celtic Tiger it wasn’t available.”
Dr Wingfield runs a public clinic in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.
“It breaks my heart at the public clinic here. People just can’t afford it. They’re borrowing from parents, remortgaging houses.”
“One in six couples have infertility, and at least half of men have a low sperm count.”
“I’ve seen women who have no fallopian tubes or men with really low sperm counts and there’s no way they’ll get pregnant without help.”
“Infertility isn’t just an optional extra. It affects a couple’s whole life, all their relationships with family, friends, work. A lot of relationships break up.”
In Scotland and Wales, couples are entitled to two NHS-funded cycles of IVF treatment if they meet certain medical criteria, regardless of income.
Those in Northern Ireland are funded for one cycle while those in England receive one, two or three cycles, depending on their postcode.
Two percent of all births in Europe are through IVF, Dr Wingfield says.
“The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, when James Reilly was looking at the universal health insurance proposal, we put in a submission saying that IVF should be part of it.”
“Belgium had it since the 1990s, the UK since the early 2000s. Sweden and Finland were well ahead.”
“It’s not really acceptable from a medical point of view. A lot of people in Ireland who can’t afford it are beginning to travel abroad to Eastern Europe and India. It’s not ideal to be travelling abroad. Guidelines and practices might not be as good.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The universal health insurance is being developed and these areas have yet to be covered.”
Source: Irish Independant