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Safe and Successful IVF Treatment in Greece
A Blog by Chrysa Karakosta, Newlife IVF, Thessaloniki, Greece, February 24, 2015
Lots of people travel every year for treatment abroad. The main reasons why many people decide to go abroad for IVF treatment are:
- Availability of fertility treatments. Some people are prohibited in their own country (e.g. single people; individuals over a specific age; anonymous donation)
- They do not get funding for treatment and private healthcare is very expensive
- More established/expert/successful treatments may be available in another country
- They don’t want to wait a long time on a waiting list for treatment.
When people seek treatment abroad one of their main concerns is about safety. Will it be safe to have such treatments in a foreign country? Greece is one of the countries that many foreigners consider to have infertility treatments.
We have first-hand knowledge of why is it safe to consider Greece.
IVF Facilities in Greece
The majority of IVF units are private. This means that many units have modern facilities and the scientific and medical equipment are state of the art. IVF clinics invest in this quality so that they achieve high success rates and therefore are competitive.
The requirements to open and become a practicing IVF clinic in Greece are very strict. All IVF units are also obliged to comply with the European Tissue Directive which has been in force since 2008. This introduced common safety and quality standards for human tissues and cells across the European Union (EU). The purpose is to facilitate a safer and easier exchange of tissues and cells (including human eggs and sperm) between member states and to improve safety standards for European citizens.
Usually each country has a regulatory body in place which oversees the legal and regulatory aspects of IVF treatment. Greece is no different and this body examines and assesses each IVF unit regularly to ensure safety and compliance with the law. They also are tasked with ensuring that the treatments being performed are safe for the patient and any child conceived. Recently, a new law regarding embryo transfer was introduced in Greece. This law enforced the maximum number of embryos that are allowed to be transferred depending on specific circumstances. By implementing this as law, it is hoped that this limits the number of multiple pregnancies and hence the problems associated with it.
Some of the clinics in Greece are ISO Certified. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards. Having an ISO Certified clinic can provide another assurance of quality and safety.
The other main ‘danger’ apart from multiple pregnancies in IVF, is the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS can be successfully avoided when treatment cycle protocols are ‘tailor-made’ to avoid unnecessary high doses of medications. It is important that the IVF clinic does not provide a one-fit does all approach for medication in order to ensure the safety of the patient. In cases where a high response to even small amounts of medications cannot be avoided, then cryopreserving all embryos and performing the embryo transfer at a future point in time also minimizes the risk.
Due to the expertise of staff in Greece, as well as the many factors, including all the above, the success rates in both IVF treatment cycles using own eggs, and donation cycles in Greece are amongst the highest in Europe (according to the published data from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology). That’s why it is possible to be not only safe but also successful in Greece.