Would you go to East Europe for an invasive medical procedure like IVF? Would you go anywhere outside your home country for any operation?
Curious? Do you have a passport? Well then, it’s possible!
Read on to see if Bulgaria is a destination you would consider for a location where you would freeze your eggs or for IVF.
And in case you were wondering…yes! Most Bulgarians, particularly the younger people, do speak English!
I’m relatively new to medical tourism. My first experience with medical tourism occurred about 10 years ago when I opted to go to the dentist for a routine check-up at a recommended clinic while traveling in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
While I recognize a visit to the dentist is by no means comparable to a round of egg-freezing/IVF, I think having that experience “opened the doors” to medical tourism. Nowadays you can catch Tiktoks on hair replacement in Istanbul, plastic surgery in Seoul, and cosmetic dentistry in Barcelona. Obviously the money saved in getting the work done and a quasi-holiday are also what is influencing people to look abroad for their unique needs.
Below I list 6 logical and personal reasons why Bulgaria became my top choice for my IVF cycle.
Disclaimer: Here I mix logic and personal motivations. You may identify with some of both! For me for example , the cost of each round was a personal reason which then became part of my personal logic in making a choice. I simply wanted to be able to afford as many rounds as possible. For some, the cost may be less of an issue than time.
Prioritize and reprioritize this list in order of what is important to you. You cannot go wrong when you make a deep gut decision based on what you know you need to do and who to be for this journey!
Here we go!
My Schedule. Or lack thereof.
I wanted to come here and focus on it in a no-stress manner. I knew that I wanted to slow down enough to where if I needed to take a nap right in the middle of the day I could give myself permission to do so.
I also wanted to come to a stable and safe country in order to focus on my cycle. I wanted to feel like I could just run out and grab bottled water (in glass of course!) or salad greens in the evenings if I wanted.
It was also important to set down as much of my work as possible. I run a small residential rental property business and I was able to leave the majority of my work to the property managers. Although I did have to make a few phone calls to some of the tenants. At the end of the day, not such a huge deal with the time difference (+7 hours). It made for easy mornings and I could count on things to pick up pace in the afternoons and evenings. It was a schedule that really suited me! Especially when the clinic found out that I didn’t mind late afternoon appointments, they would schedule me as late as 7 or 8 in the evening sometimes. I loved this schedule!
They did not “push” donor eggs on me.
They respected the desire to try my own eggs first. I knew I was not the first woman who was 44 to walk into that clinic. In fact, I learned about this clinic from another woman who was the same age as me who also had success at this clinic and spoke highly of the doctor.
In contacting certain clinics within the Czech Republic, the clinics were very quick to push donor eggs in the initial emails. Finding a clinic that will harbor some hope for you is essential. If this happens to you…run the opposite direction! How can a clinic determine whether it is time for donor eggs over email without even seeing your hormone levels? Don’t get mad, accept that they have a different agenda, and feel good knowing that is not the clinic for you and that you should celebrate knowing that you have eliminated a choice! That clinic is someone else’s clinic, not yours!
The clinic was highly recommended.
Within the fertility-related Facebook groups, many women are asking for recommendations for clinics. I actually found this particular doctor and clinic through word of mouth in a Facebook Group, from someone I had several conversations with online with about her ability to have a baby with her own oocytes at the age of 44.
Bulgaria Enjoys A Stable Political Environment
At some point in the selection process I was actually looking at a clinic in Ukraine(I chose Ukraine originally for cost but also because of the donor laws within that country which permitted usage of Open-ID donors-see the next reason listed). In February 2022, it suddenly became really important factor to go with a clinic within the EU (and one that was a member of NATO). Bulgaria is a member of both of these.
Laws on donor usage within every country differs. If using a donor, be sure to verify that your chosen donor is permitted for usage within the country you select for IVF.
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of countries in Europe that permit the usage of a known, or Open-ID, donors that are “popular” as destination countries for IVF. As mentioned earlier, Ukraine was one of the countries that permitted the usage of Open-ID donors; however Bulgaria also permitted me to use the donor of my choice.
How to say it better? Because I am “late to the game” and had to calculate the potential for needing multiple cycles. I needed to keep the costs down as much as possible. A cycle at a particular clinic in Glendale, California estimated (even with my insurance costs) to be around $10k for one cycle without the medicines included. Medicines were to be estimated at around $5k for one cycle. With those combined costs I could have easily afforded several cycles of IVF at the clinic in Bulgaria (with medicines). At the age that I began my first cycle, it was important to consider the cost so that I could afford to be able to “keep myself in the game,” if necessary.
In choosing a clinic for egg freezing and IVF, it is super important to consider what constraints will work for you and what won’t. Some people won’t be able to travel and be away from their work for extended periods. (Is this the time to take that offer that is 100% remote?) Some people will prioritize saving money directly with the procedures.
In my next post, I’m going to write more about the day-to-day of arriving and living in Sofia, Bulgaria while going through IVF.
In another post, I’ll go over the in’s and out’s of staying in Sofia in order to go to the clinic. Comment below if you have any specific questions while I’m here in Sofia and in care of the clinic! I can write a separate post about all of your questions!
Meanwhile, if you are still in the research phase, check out my handy fertility preservation guide with thoughtful, easy-to-implement tips for anyone who is thinking about having children eventually. It is an easy no stress guide to help you think about and optimize some areas to ensure that when you are ready to have your family, nothing stands in your way!