While one in seven couple faces fertility problems in Europe, fertility specialist Dr Kayal believes that the UAE has higher rates of one in six couples facing issues in trying to start a family.

Worldwide, three percent of babies born are through IVF treatment. The reasons for the higher infertility rate in the UAE are mainly stress, genetics and late marriage.

Fertility treatment is stressful enough for many couples without factoring in the worry of how to pay for it all. Our team has done some research on the cost and the options for you.

Having a baby is something many of us take for granted. We marry and then, when the time feels right, we start trying for a family and nine months down the line our first child is born. Dr Kayal, from Bourn Hall Clinic, advises the young couple where the woman who is under 35 and with no underlying conditions to approach a fertility clinic only after 12 months of trying to conceive.

For many of us, the process is not so simple. A couple may try and try and when they fail to conceive, turn to their doctor and later a fertility clinic for help.  And this is where the process of having children gets expensive.

For Sarah, a 35-year-old mother-of-two who needed In vitro fertilisation (IVF) to conceive her second child, the process was fairly straightforward. Sarah’s medical insurance covered the full cost of her single IVF cycle, which resulted in the birth of her second son last year. Had it not covered the cost, she would have had to pay anywhere in the range of AED 25,000 – 37,000, depending on the clinic and the treatments. While Sarah was lucky, many medical insurance policies only cover part of the cost or none at all, leaving the burden of paying for fertility treatment on the couple. For those unsure if they are covered, they should first phone their existing insurer to check.

If their policy does not extend to fertility treatment, it might be worth looking for a new policy that will cover them. This is particularly important for those who already know there may be fertility issues when they want to start a family in the future.


What are the options for IVF in the UAE?

We have looked at three different clinics. What we found was that all of them quoted very different prices – but the service and what was offered was very different too. Make sure you compare prices based on what you are getting rather than what they quote you on the phone

Bourn Hall Clinic

The clinic was founded in 1980 by IVF pioneers Patrick Steptoe and Prof Robert Edwards, who were responsible for the conception of Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF (test tube) baby in 1978. Since its foundation, the UK clinic has assisted in the conception of over 10,000 babies. They opened their center in Dubai last year in September 2012 and boast a success rate of 23 percent for women above 42 years old up to 63.2 percent for women under 35 years old.  Our team visited the clinic and was very impressed with the personalized welcome and time taken to explain the IVF process.

The cost of a full cycle of IVF at Bourn Hall is AED 37,000 – and this probably is the most extensive in the country as it includes all medications (including tablet and oral hormones), all surgeries and the three-month follow-up in the case of positive pregnancy.  The follow-up at three months includes the consultation and scans required to make sure the baby is growing as it should.

The Bourn Hall package is really a complete package, unlike many of the other clinics. Although one of the pioneers of IVF, Bourn Hall is new to the UAE but is definitely picking up in terms of treatments.

Fakih IVF

Probably one of the most talked-about IVF centers on forums in the UAE. Our team visited the clinic and was shocked at the number of waiting patients in the waiting room! One of the common comments on forums such as Expatwoman is that the wait to see a doctor can stretch to an hour or more and that the doctors are often too busy to provide clear explanation of the process.

However, Fakih IVF boasts a similar success rate to Bourn Hall, starting at 12.5 percent for women above 43 up to 63.4 percent for women under 35 years of age. They are located in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi and the cost for a package is AED 30,000 for one cycle.  However, the package does not include the oral medications or the three-month follow-up, post-positive pregnancy, which would be charged per visit and per scan.

Conceive

Conceive has been based in Sharjah since 2004 and boasts a success rate of 50 percent overall. Dr Pankaj Shrivastav is the Director of Conceive Fertility Hospital. In 1990, the Government of Dubai invited Dr Shrivastav as part of a team to establish the UAE’s first ever fertility unit in Dubai. And so it was that in 1991 Dr Shrivastav arrived in Dubai and set up Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre (DGFC), where he served as Deputy Director and Director for the next 13 years.

Conceive boasts a success rate of 50 percent for different ages – we were not able to get the exact details by age. In terms of cost, they were the lowest quoted package out of the three, at AED 15,000, but this figure excluded all medication (from the clinic and pharmacies) which they said would come to approximately AED 6,500. The cost of scans post-positive pregnancy is also not covered, so you need to take this into consideration. The price of a consultation and a scan is around AED 700.


How to pay for your IVF

If your insurance does not cover the full amount, and cash upfront is not suitable for you, there are other options, such as loans or specific clinic financial plan.

Shop around for a loan or use a credit card

If a clinic’s loan facility does not meet the couple’s needs, they could consider other bank loans. Plenty of banks offer personal loans that supply eligible borrowers with cash and come with lower minimum salary requirements and reducing rates.

Factors to consider when comparing personal loans are the rate itself, the length of the tenure of the loan (the shorter the better as it reduces the amount of interest you pay) and the minimum salary demanded. Also be aware of hidden fees, such as an upfront administration fee or early settlement fee – typically one percent – if you choose to pay off the loan earlier.

Finally, those lucky enough to only need one IVF cycle or a one-off fertility treatment could pay the bill using a credit card. Yes, it might be a lot of money to place on a card, but treat it as a short-term loan and then aim to pay it off quickly. Credit cards might have much higher interest rates attached to them, but they also offer flexibility when it comes to paying them off. This will be particularly helpful if you know you will have money coming to you and need a stop-gap option to pay for the treatment.