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Relax in order to increase your chance for… in-vitro conception

29 August 2010 / 12:08:12  GRReporter
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Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos called on the phone with an interesting proposal to help the Bulgarian couples living in Greece who want to go through an in-vitro fertilization. We spoke to him about health insurances of the couples, which the state pays them for their in-vitro fertilization because besides being emotionally grueling, are also quite expensive. There are women who need to undergo several times the procedures and this not only affects negatively and depressing their mind, but also ruins their finances. In Greece, the price of a procedure varies between 2500 and 4500 euros. It turns out that in Bulgaria there has been for about one year a Fund for assisted reproduction, which defrays the cost of the couples for three procedures by granting up to 5000 euro for each of them and in the last month the lists of waiting couples who want to undertake the in vitro procedures are full.

Dr. Papadopoulos has studied in Bulgaria and is still working in the clinic "Aphrodite" as a guest consultant and soon he will also start in the new Greek private clinic Genetyllis. The intriguing thing about the Athens clinic Genetyllis, where Dr. Papadopoulos works is that there is the only place applying the system IVF Witness, which monitors not be fertilized by mistake a woman's ovum with the sperm of another man who is not hers. "Such mistakes have happened due to inadvertence, especially when there are many patients," said the embryologist Hara Papanikou.

To avoid such a mistake, the couple is given a credit card where their data for identification is recorded and when their samples are placed to proceed in the laboratory to fertilization procedure, in a "reader" as doctors call it is placed also the credit card of the couple said Mrs. Papanikou. It triggers the procedure that tracks the entire genetic material from the outset - from the ova and sperm to embryos that enter in the woman and prevents errors from occurring. "This helps patients to feel confident that there will be no confusion," adds Dr. Papadopoulos. "This is a system that electronically controls that an ovum will be inseminated by the specific sperm."

Dr. Papadopoulos said that while he worked in Bulgaria there were couples who wanted to come to Greece to make in vitro fertilization after they had repeatedly made unsuccessful attempts in their home country. He tells us of a woman he knows who has tried six times in Bulgaria to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization and finally when she came to Greece proved lucky and got pregnant from the first time. "And you realize that afterwards came all her friends who wanted to have an in vitro done in Greece. And two of them were lucky and conceived from the first time here. And you can imagine ... "


But here in Greece there are also women who have tried over 10 times ...

This is true, but here we have better laboratories, with good technology. We appeal to couples who live here in Greece. A couple came to see me and the woman had been trying for two years to get pregnant. I told them some things and the girl managed to get pregnant, but I saw that there are many Bulgarian couples and sometimes women may not know the language, but may also feel uncomfortable because of the doctor so it might be easier for them to communicate with a doctor who speaks Bulgarian.


What does the law say about the age restriction and what laws apply in Greece and Bulgaria?

Bulgaria has not yet voted on a law for in-vitro fertilization, so there applies the law of the European Community. In Greece, the law is also copied from the law of the European Community. It does not differ, but the directives are such as to apply to all EU countries. While Bulgaria was outside the European Union it could do whatever it pleased, but now it can not. And this is why the scandal with the woman of 62 years that pregnant through in vitro in the Pleven clinic revealed in the media.


In relation to the insurance, what does it cover? I know that here IKA covers a small percentage, but it pays the cost for medicines. What is the law in Bulgaria?

In Bulgaria there is Fund for assisted reproduction, which covers up to three attempts for up to 42 years old women and provides up to 5000 Euro for the medicines and the centre. This is valid for one year now and currently in the last month the waiting lists are full. So the Bulgarians are havin in vitro fertilization completely free. This is true also in the north-western European countries, in which model it was done in Bulgaria as well. Here in Greece insurance funds pay 350 euros and is valid for three attempts per year. In Bulgaria so far, many people went in the center in Thessaloniki and that was fine with them, because they were saying to themselves that instead of paying the same money in Bulgaria they will pay it in Thessaloniki, where they get after 3-4 hours and in the center with better laboratory and advanced technology. In Bulgaria, works Prof. Shterev, who is very good and has a lot of work. He has his own clinic.


I am not sure that the Bulgarian couples living in Greece have unlimited financial resources, so I want to clarify the issue of price. And especially when the procedure needs to be repeated or even to be made several times ...

What scares the couples is the financial issue. They are being stressed while awaiting the outcome, and that occurs especially when you do not have the possibility to do it again. This is why we exist and we want to reduce the price so that it is not as unaffordable and to cost around 1800 euros.


When should a woman turn to specialized care for help?

Couples in which the woman has been trying to get pregnant for two years and have not been successful and the woman is at an age of up to 35 years old will have to turn to a specialist. Over 37 years of age after a period of six months she should seek the help of a doctor, while over 40 years of age – she should do that immediately. It depends on the age, which is what determines when a woman should turn to a specialist.


If the woman is over 40 years of age and already has other children, should she seek the help of a specialist?

She might have changed her partner. If she has separated, and found a new partner and they want to have a child, but she is over 40 years it is difficult for a woman to conceive.


How does a woman choose the doctor whom to ask for help?

Usually, she is forwarded to her gynecologist. He is the one who advises her as well as the Internet. Couples search on the internet and choose the center. And of course, from what I understand from the patients, they take advise from other 2-3 families about whom to contact.


Can you predict the percentage of success when you see the tests of semen and ovaries?

Yes, of course. Not so much for the sperm, as for the ovaries. When a woman is under 35 years of age, the percentage of success is much higher - over 50%.


Are there any things that the woman or the man can do to be able to conceive more easily except for practicing more often?

Many things, which however cannot be done in one big city. To return to the lifestyle of their ancestors. Healthy lifestyle. No stress. Our food, which is full of preservatives is blamed for causing damage to sperm. Stress, lack of free time, lack of hobbies, all this leads to unhealthy lifestyles and respectively the potency decreases. Alcohol and cigarettes are also harmful to potency.


May women who are not married or gay couples conceive with in vitro fertilization?

In general, for homosexual couples is forbidden in Greece. In England it is allowed, but there the law also allows the cohabitation between couples of the same sex. When this changes in Greece and homosexual couples obtain the legal right to cohabitation together as a family, then the law related to in vitro fertilization may also change. Women usually come to the centers as unmarried mothers and sign notary documents as unmarried mothers. Then legally only one of the women is entitled to the child.


What are the challenges in the future related to in vitro fertilization?

The "detainment" of the embryo. When we learn how to stick "best" embryos to the uterus, when we find the "glue", then we will increase the percentage of success and will rise it to 100%. In vitro fertilization is a new science. Only 30 years old. This reveals the amazing areas for research. In northern Europe new discoveries are made, revolutions in the field of in-vitro, both for men and for the identification of hereditary diseases at an early stage such as the Mediterranean disease. Every decade brings us a great new discovery.


The interview was taken by: Marina Nikolova

Tags: News Health Hippocrates successors in vitro
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