Yes, finally you are ready to take that big step to have children. If you are not one of the lucky couples whose wish to get pregnant becomes true pretty swiftly, you might need assistance in making this dream come true. According to the Dutch Fertility Association Freya, 1 in 6 couples in the Netherlands find themselves in this situation, so it is much more common than one might think.
Medical Fertility Assistance
In the Netherlands, couples are advised to try to conceive naturally for one year, unless there is a clear female fertility issue, like irregular menstruation. Once the family doctor refers you to a fertility clinic, you can make an appointment. It takes about a month or two to obtain your first appointment. During this first appointment, the gynecologist goes through your medical and family history and makes an ultrasound check. Then a series of diagnostic tests and checks are made. This might take up to three months, depending on the menstrual cycle of the woman. After that, there is a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
The Dutch fertility system, like the Dutch healthcare system, is quite conservative in the sense that the basic approach is to trust nature and to interfere as lightly and gently as possible with the body. This means in practice that it can take 1-2 years until the step to advanced fertility methods are taken, unless there is a clear indication that that is needed. Furthermore, only treatments which are proven with research to be effective are applied.
Typically, the first step is to stimulate ovulation with pills. This is usually repeated up to 6 times, depending on how the woman’s body reacts to it. If the reaction to pills is not satisfactory, then injectable medicines are used.
If there is no resulting pregnancy and or there is a male fertility issue, then the IUI (IntraUterine Insemination), whereby sperms are brought into the uterus, is used to help sperms reach the egg. Depending on the situation, IUI is combined with hormonal treatments and is repeated up to 6 times.
The last step is the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). For IVF/ICSI, the natural hormonal cycle of the woman is suppressed, so that multiple eggs can grow per cycle. Ovulation is hyper stimulated with injectable hormones. When these eggs are ripe, then the eggs are collected, so that the fertilization can take place in the laboratory. In case of successful fertilization, the embryo is placed back into the mother’s uterus. If there are multiple embryos, they are frozen to be transferred later on if necessary. All Dutch insurance packages cover all the above mentioned treatments and 3 IVF/ICSI cycles.
Fertility Clinics in the Rotterdam Area
Only a selection of (starred) fertility clinics have IVF laboratories. The other clinics work together with these hospitals for performing IVF procedures.
Psychological Fertility Assistance
The fertility journey can be a long and lonely process. If you are an expat, it can be extra hard not to have dear family and friends to support you in this process. Unfortunately, there is little time and room in the medical process to pay attention to the emotional aspects of this journey.
This realization has led me to set up Birth Wish Fertility Coaching to offer assistance to women and couples who are searching for extra support in dealing emotionally with this process.
Support by women and men who are in the same boat can be very helpful. Join our online Fertility Support Group Netherlands on Facebook.
Please contact me to discuss how counselling could help you with your questions and needs around your fertility.