What if my fertility treatment goes wrong?

Perhaps the biggest worry for people travelling abroad for fertility treatment is what if it goes wrong? This is something that you should consider carefully and prepare for as best you can. With thorough research and preparation in advance you can make sure you choose the most suitable fertility clinic abroad, and you can buy specialist insurance that covers you for much of the unexpected.

Fertility treatment does not normally involve general anaesthetic or open surgery, so it is usually safer than treatments such as cosmetic surgery abroad. However, if things do go wrong with your fertility treatment, they can have devastating consequences for your future family plans, so you need to be prepared.

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Planning ahead for fertility treatment abroad

Careful planning is the key to avoiding problems with fertility treatment when you travel abroad, and choosing the right clinic will certainly be a major factor. You should ask your clinic what safety policies and processes they have in place, and ask how successful these policies are. Specific questions include:

  • What are the infection rates for hospital- acquired infections such as MRSA and C. difficile?  
  • What are the screening policies for staff health and HIV?
  • Are there any data on accident rates?
  • Does the fertility clinic publish satisfaction rates for past clients?
  • What facilities does the fertility clinic have for emergencies if anything does go wrong, and where is the nearest major hospital if needed?

Understanding your fertility treatment

A good way to avoid anxiety about things going wrong with fertility treatment is to thoroughly research what it will involve in advance. This will tell you the precautions you need to take, as well as explaining any symptoms that are normal following your treatment, and any that are warning signs that should be taken seriously.

You should combine this research with the advice of your doctor or fertility specialist, both at home and at your chosen fertility clinic abroad. You should always follow their advice to the letter, for example resting for as many days as you have been told, even if you feel fit and well. This is not only important for your health and that of your baby, but will also affect any claim you subsequently make against your clinic. If something goes wrong and you have not followed your doctor’s advice, your case will be that much weaker.

Check your contract with your fertility clinic abroad

Any reputable fertility clinic will give you a contract of services, and you should read this in detail before you sign to make sure you understand your position in case of problems. If in doubt, get independent legal advice before signing. Your contract should state explicitly what happens if something goes wrong, and what the fertility clinic will pay for. For example, if complications mean you need to extend your stay, or mean that you need further medication, your contract should clearly state who will pay for this.

Knowing your rights for medical treatment abroad

It is important to remember that if you travel overseas for medical treatment you will no longer be covered by the laws of your own country if something goes wrong. You will have to pursue legal action in your destination country, and that action will be covered by local laws. You should therefore look into the legal situation carefully before you make your choice. Countries with lower prices, such as those in Eastern Europe often have less dependable legal systems; you could find yourself struggling in a long and drawn out fight to get compensation.

You should also check your rights to emergency treatment overseas. For example, EU citizens who carry an EHIC card can obtain emergency treatment across Europe, paid for by their home state. However, it is well worth double checking that any reciprocal arrangements between your home country and your destination country cover medical tourism issues, as there may be exclusions.

Even if you have had fertility treatment abroad against the advice of your doctor, you should still be entitled to emergency treatment when you get home, with the right to be treated in the same way as any other patient in your home medical system, without prejudice.

Specialist insurance for fertility treatment abroad

Normal travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if anything goes wrong during a trip primarily arranged for fertility treatment. In fact, you may find that a normal travel insurance policy is completely invalidated by planning medical treatment while you are away, so you will not be covered at all.

To avoid this, make sure you take out specialist travel insurance cover designed for medical or fertility tourism. There are many of these policies available, so choose the one that suits you best.


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FREE 27 Page Guide

Guide to fertility treatment abroad
  • Choosing a destination
  • Comparing clinics
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • What to do if something goes wrong

Explore the practicalities of going abroad for fertility treatment.



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