The decision is made: we want a child! So begins the quest of research, organisation and asking around. Who to turn to, who has the answers, where to begin? Many despair, having no idea how to take the first steps if they’re considering artificial insemination. This article is meant to help those who want to begin soon, have already gotten started or who are planning on having a child in the next 1-3 years. In this article Dr Rathmanner, doctor of Tiny Feet, a Wiener Neustadt-based fertility clinic will explain the process of artificial fertilisation through the example of the workflow of their own healthcare centre.
This article was sponsored by Tiny Feet Clinic at Wiener Neustadt. If you’re interested in the topic, read our previous articles on the options of raising children in Hungary and our overview of European fertility clinics and a list of things to consider before choosing one.
Write an e-mail! In a short introduction tell them about yourselves, don’t be afraid to mention being a lesbian couple, talk about your health and your expectations. Make sure to mention your age, whether your cycles are regular and if you have any gynecological problems. After this the clinic will fix a time for your first personal consultation, which can happen over Skype or phone. Dr Rathmanner told us that besides English and German Tiny Feet is able to provide all-inclusive service in Hungarian too. The clinic employs several Hungarian healthcare professionals, so the introductory e-mail can be safely sent in Hungarian as well.
2. First discussion
Establishing contact is followed by the first personal consultation, which is usually still free and non-committal. Like a lot of other clinics, Tiny Feet is moving with the times and is very flexible about the method of communication. You can arrange a meeting in person, but it might be more convenient to save a couple of hours in travel-time and discuss the details with our chosen clinician over Skype or phone. Since the doctors work with several Hungarian-speaking assistants, we can request the consultation to happen in Hungarian. Dr Rathmanner emphasised that we can choose if we want a male or a female doctor - he knows from experience that some clients are more comfortable with a female doctor.
At this first discussion you go over the possible treatment options, the method of choosing a sperm donor and the expenses you can expect. At this time the doctor will already suggest a list of treatments you might have to undergo before proceeding. This usually includes a hormonal exam which can be carried out by the gynecologist of your choice in Hungary.
If you choose to get treated in Austria it’s important to know that according to the country’s laws only couples may request artificial insemination. To verify your relationship you must provide a document by an Austian notary where you declare your intention to take equal parts in raising your child. The clinic will provide help in acquiring the documentation needed - Dr Rathmanner tells us.
3. The first visit at Wiener Neustadt
From here on, it’s Dr Rathmanner guiding us through the process, but other clinics work in a very similar way.
Wiener Neustadt is 270 kilometers away from Budapest (and 30 kilometers from the Hungarian boarder), which means a 3 hours car drive, but the clinic can also be reached by train in under 4 hours. At the first meeting the specific plans are finalised and you can expect blood sampling, ultrasound and general check-ups. A detailed treatment-plan is discussed, what medication is needed and when you should go for ultrasound exams.
This is also when you can select a sperm donor if you don’t have one already. Don’t picture the choosing process as flipping through a catalogue, pointing at the bloke you like most and then getting the ‘material’ from him. Though you can of course have requests, such as green eyes, higher education, at least 170 cm of height. Some ideas you can ‘filter’ by: hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, age, hobbies, religion, nationality.
The first half of the total treatment price must be paid at the end of this first consultation, the second after the implantation or the insemination. You can review the prices here, but the clinic will already calculate a final cost during the first skype or phone call, depending on the treatment you choose.
4. Treatment at home
From then on the treatment goes as agreed upon at the first meeting. If you’re trying for insemination you will go through a shorter preparation process. This entails medically stimulating the production of eggs, which heightens the chances of successful fertilisation. On the 12-13th day of this medical treatment you need to visit your preferred Hungarian gynecologist, have an ultrasound exam and then discuss the results with a clinician of Tiny Feet. If all is going according to plan, you can head to Wiener Neustadt, where the artificial insemination takes place.
If you’re choosing IVF (in vitro fertilisation), then you can expect the medical treatment to be a bit more complicated and to include hormone injections - Dr Rathmanner tells us. In the first 10 days you must undergo at least two ultrasound exams at the gynecologist of your choice to track the development of the egg. The results can be forwarded by e-mail to Tiny Feet and based on this the doctor will decide if the treatment plan needs to be modified or not. The length of this preparation period varies - based on the results it may take 2 or more weeks. Once the eggs are sufficiently stimulated you receive a final shot and from then on you have 36 hours to show up at the Wiener Neustadt clinic.
5. The second visit at Wiener Neustadt
For insemination this is when the sperm is injected. This is a very simple procedure, the client is seated in a standard gynecologist chair and sperm is injected into the uterus. The process only takes a couple of minutes, after which we are free to return home unless of course we wish to go site-seeing in Wiener Neustadt.
In case of IVF this is when the eggs are retrieved. The procedure itself takes about five minutes, but since it’s performed under anaesthesia, the client must remain under surveillance at the clinic for 1-2 hours. Even after that the client may only leave if they’re accompanied and must not drive! Usually several eggs are retrieved at once and an average of 10 get fertilised. The most viable embryo is implanted back into the womb in a couple of days.
6. The last visit at Wiener Neustadt
If you’re getting IVF the last phase comes five days after the retrieval of the eggs. Here the fertilised eggs are placed back inside the uterus, similar to the process of insemination. This is the last step of the treatment, it is recommended to follow it up with an ultrasound exam a month later to see if the impregnation was successful.
Dr Rathmanner shared an interesting statistic: according to European data lesbians have a higher chance of impregnation by artificial insemination since 18-19% of the treatments are successful, while in the case of heterosexual couples the rate barely reaches 15%.
Dr Ratmanner also told us that the rate of successful pregnancies in the case of IVF is 40%. The clinic offers freezing the embryos that don’t get implanted in case the first or second implantation is unsuccessful. The cumulative success-rate in the case of more implantations is around 80%. This service greatly improves the chances of impregnation and is much more comfortable, since no new eggs need to be retrieved.
‘We are not treating clients, we are helping women who want a child. It does not matter to us if these women live in a heterosexual or a lesbian relationship. We are working with our whole heart and soul to help anyone who wants a child to create new life’ - Dr Rathmanner offered as parting words.