Expert shares advice for women who think they may be infertile
Alison Reede is a Life & Fertility Coach working with women and men struggling with Infertility. Alison was inspired to focus her Coaching Practice on Infertility after her own difficult journey to motherhood. Today Alison shares her advice for those who know or suspect they may be infertile.
The recent news this year from our Government in Ireland that state funding is to be provided for fertility treatment under our public health system is long overdue and absolutely welcome.
Planning to include funding for fertility treatment under the public health system is the first step in a public acknowledgement by the State that fertility treatment is medical treatment for a medical condition. It is a widespread issue in our society that is estimated to impact up to 1 in 6 couples. The announcement might even go some way to raising awareness of infertility and the impact it can have on those suffering and even to removing it as a taboo subject in Ireland. Fingers crossed!
Just to reiterate Fertility Treatment is in fact medical treatment for a medical condition called “infertility”. The World Health Organisation describes Infertility as a disease. There are many underlying causes and health issues to infertility and in some cases the cause is unknown but the diagnosis from the medical world is still “infertility”, which is typically defined as failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. We don’t talk about it as an illness or medical condition but we need to begin too.
It is well known that the financial cost of fertility treatment can be astronomical. Fertility Treatment and IVF in particular have been viewed as “elective” and “luxury and that only the rich can afford it. The reality is this cost excludes many couples from actually accessing much needed fertility treatment to help them conceive which is both heartbreaking and soul destroying when your future hopes and dreams of starting a family hang in limbo. It can affect a couple’s whole life, their relationships, friends, family, work and mental health. Many couples go into huge debt to fund their treatment and even re- mortgage and load credit cards. Estimates of €4,000 – €5,000 for a round of IVF are regularly reported in the media, however the reality is there are many other add on costs too such as additional tests, consultant fees, travel time, and time out of work to mention but a few that need to be taken into account.
This announcement gives huge hope to many couples who have struggled to conceive for years that financial assistance will be available. However, the nuts and bolts of how this funding for fertility treatment will operate has yet to become clear but there will be criteria that will need to be fulfilled and it certainly will not reach everyone who needs it. In other countries that already have state funding, criteria such as age, BMI, non-smoker, underlying cause of infertility come into play, and also if you already have a child or have had previous treatment. Some countries and jurisdictions offer 1 to 3 rounds of Fertility Treatment and some up to 6.
Whatever the criteria will be in Ireland, my hopes are that it will be fair, it will engage with the existing clinic infrastructure and expertise, it will be efficient and that waiting lists and lengthy application processes don’t creep in to add to the stress for couples in an already very stressful environment. It has been reported about 8000 couples undergo Fertility Treatment in Ireland every year. So we do need to be realistic, State Funding will not apply to everyone who needs Fertility Treatment.
I want to share some practical advice and tips to those who are impacted;
- It would be prudent to save what you can in preparation. There are cases where fertility treatment works first time but on the whole it can take a few attempts and protocol changes to get the treatment right so best to plan financially as best you can.
- Taking simple steps to lead a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally could prevent you from needing fertility treatment or at least reduce how much treatment you need and increase your chances of having a baby. This goes for both the gals & guys!
- Don’t wait until next year to begin investigations as to why you are not conceiving because state funding is coming. If you have been trying to conceive for 6 – 12 months, especially if you are over 35, visit your GP as soon as possible and start improving your lifestyle.
- I have often heard women say, “I will give it another couple of months and sure there is always IVF”. Medical science is improving all the time in this space but there are still no guarantees it will work so be realistic.
- Not everyone needs IVF so do you research, consider and discuss other cheaper methods such as TSI & IUI with your Consultant or consider other options such as Napro or more natural approaches that are available.
- Remember to claim what you can on your Med 1 form. Make sure to keep your receipts and claim annually on a timely basis.
- The State Drug Payment Scheme may help with the cost of some of the medication.
- Research the health insurers to see what is on offer from them and figure out which provider will suit you and your needs best. Some have affiliations with specific clinic’s and may only cover part or certain aspects of the treatment or pay a once off amount so do your research. If you are changing your health care provider check out their waiting periods before you can claim.
My blog today is primarily focuses on the financial cost of fertility treatment but there can be a huge emotional and psychological investment too. If you need any guidance or support on the emotional and more practical side of infertility or fertility treatment please do not hesitate to skype or call me for complimentary consultation.