Health

Falling cost of IVF gives hope to more couples struggling with infertility

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In Nigeria, the cost of InVitro Fertilisation, (IVF) is one of the major factors couples consider when seeking fertility treatment. It is no longer news that assisted reproductive technology often runs into millions of Naira. However, the establishment of more pocket-friendly fertility clinics has assisted more Nigerian couples struggling with conception to become parents.

Based on research, IVF treatment in Nigeria is one of the most affordable in the world. Other countries with low costs of IVF treatment ranging from 3,000 euros to 6,000 euros include Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey, and Denmark.

The cost of IVF treatment in Nigeria varies based on the hospital, location, and health-related factors. BH inquiries from different fertility clinics revealed that the average cost of IVF in a fertility clinic in Nigeria is about N1.6 million to N4 million, depending on the IVF cycle plan. Before now, the lowest cost used to be N2.5m

IVF is one of several assisted reproductive technologies available to help people with fertility problems have a baby. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop. It can be carried out using the woman’s eggs and the man’s sperm, or eggs and sperm from donors.

Research indicates that the live birth rate for each IVF cycle ranges from 13 to 18 percent for women over 40 years and from 40 to 43 percent for women under age 37.

A report by The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that about 17.5 percent of the adult population, that is, 1 in 6 people globally experience infertility, showing the urgent need to increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those in need. However, male infertility is responsible for 20 to 30 percent of infertility cases, while 20 to 35 percent are due to female infertility, and 25 to 40 percent are due to combined.

According to a recent report by Macro Trends, the fertility rate in Nigeria is 5.09 children per woman, yet infertility remains a big challenge as many Nigerian couples struggle with conceiving. The rate of infertility in Nigeria is estimated to be 30.3 percent, 9.2 percent for primary infertility and 21.1 percent for secondary infertility.

In an interview with our correspondent, Dr. Victoria Ilesanmi, an IVF consultant in a fertility clinic explained the pre-stages of an IVF treatment, that is, before commencing an IVF treatment.

“The first stage is the Comprehensive Investigation. The couple will come in for all necessary tests, which include Transvaginal Scan, Hormonal (Prolactin, LH, FSH, TSH, DHEA) (for the woman alone), semen analysis (for the man alone), infection screening (Hepatitis B and C, HIV I and II, VDRL), BMI, Rubella, E2, Blood Group, and Genotype. The investigation fee is about N250,000 in the fertility clinic, where I work. After the test results are out, the next stage is to see a consultant gynecologist for a result review. The gynecologist will interpret the test results and the treatment will be based on this interpretation,” she said.

She further explained that age is one of the factors that determine the cost of IVF in a fertility clinic, adding that the cost of treatment when using a donor’s egg is higher than when using one’s egg.

“Age is one of the factors that determine the cost of treatment because as a woman increases in age, her ovarian reserve depreciates and the quality of her egg decreases. The cost is usually higher when we are using a donor’s egg. If a woman is using her egg, the cost is N2 million. If she is using a donor’s egg, the cost is N2.5 million. The IVF treatment lasts for about three weeks or at most one month,” she said.

Anita Emmanuel, a 43-year-old mother of two, who conceived through IVF shared her struggle with infertility, after trying to conceive for nine years and two failed IVF attempts.

“I got married in 2012 and struggled with infertility for nine years. I went to different hospitals and did a series of tests, I was told I had endometriosis. In 2017, which was my fifth year in marriage, I decided to try IVF. The first one failed. I tried again in 2018, the treatment was successful, and I got pregnant for the first time but I lost the baby at six months. This was the darkest period of my life.

“I was devastated and I was tired of trying and waiting. My husband and I spent over four million on two treatments of IVF, which yielded nothing. I decided that I wasn’t going to undergo any fertility treatment anymore. In 2020, I decided to try again. The cost was about N2.8 million. Fortunately, it was successful and I delivered a healthy set of twins (boy) in June 2021,” she shared.

She encouraged couples, who are struggling with infertility to try IVF and urged people against mocking couples, who are trying to conceive.

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“People usually say IVF is a 50/50 chance, so they are always skeptical about trying it. When I meet couples struggling with infertility, I always encourage them to try IVF. The fact that it’s a 50/50 chance doesn’t mean it won’t work. I know people, who tried it once and it worked for them. I did mine three times and I had my twin boys at the third attempt. There is no harm in trying.

“Also, people should stop mocking couples trying to conceive. I have heard people say babies born through IVF aren’t healthy. This is a misconception. My boys are healthy and other people I know, who had their babies through IVF have healthy children. It’s best to turn a deaf ear to mockery, stigma, and misconceptions on IVF and give it a try,” she urged.

Recall that in January, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Ebute Metta, Lagos, officially inaugurated its newly built Clinical Building, featuring an IVF centre, which aims to significantly reduce the cost of the procedure in Nigeria. This was disclosed by the Medical Director of FMC Ebute Metta, Dr. Adedamola Dada, during the inauguration event.

“We are very confident that we’re going to be able to crash the cost of IVF in Nigeria once we start working,” he assured.

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