To have a child to call one’s own is one of the most powerful innate drives known to the human adult. Should there be fertility challenges standing in the way of this dream, the emotional, financial and physical strain that ensues in the course of surmounting them can be incredibly daunting.
While the majority of couples will have no problem conceiving through natural reproductive means, the World Health Organization reports that one in five couples in the world have infertility.
Thankfully, advances in reproductive health has led to the rise of assisted reproductive technology, and with this development, couples having fertility challenges still have a chance to carry that bundle of joy, and put back happiness into their marriage and lives.
There are a number of clinics offering fertility services in Nigeria, and determining which of these to choose can itself be an uneasy task.
The very process of using assisted reproductive technology comes with its challenges including steep investments in time, hope and money. There will be lots of probing, prodding and anxious monitoring of cycles.
There may be lots of uncomfortable hormone injections. The patient will have to expose her physical and emotional vulnerabilities to the trust of strangers in white coat. The patient might have to come to terms with painful setbacks in the course of the journey.
It is very important to ensure that the provider to whom one has entrusted this great responsibility possesses the full gamut of skills and competencies needed to manage the patient in all ramifications of needs pertaining to assisted reproduction.
Using a series of relevant variables, we have compiled a ranking of fertility clinics in Nigeria, with a view to assisting prospective parents make informed decision on their choice of fertility service provider.
1. Range of Services
Every conception journey is unique. A good fertility clinic would carry out appropriate diagnostic procedures to determine causes of infertility in either the male or female patient, and arrive at the ideal prognostic path for patients, on a case-by-case basis.
Having done that, the range of interventions a good fertility clinic should be able to offer include In Vitro Fertilization/Embryo Transfer, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), for male factor infertility issues- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI) and Physiological Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI); Endoscopy, Cryopreservation, Advanced Genetic Screening (PGD/PGS/CGT), Professional Counselling, Donor Egg Program, Acupuncture and a host of other ancillary services.
We have ranked the fertility clinics in Nigeria according to the range of services offered below:
2. Quality of Physicians
The rule of the thumb is that an excellent fertility clinic must have highly experienced and well-trained specialist physicians and staff. Ideally, the prospective parent would choose a compassionate and well-trained Gynaecologist with specialization in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI), expertise in various cutting-edge reproductive technologies and years of actual experience using them.
Research confirms that clinics that do more than 150 – 200 IVF cycles per year tend to have slightly higher rates of success (FertilityIQ). Most importantly, you will want a doctor that pays meticulous attention to detail, has excellent diagnostics experience, and possesses the empathy and nuance to manage the myriad of problems likely to crop up in the TTC journey.
We ranked the clinics from one to ten based on the number of their specialist physicians possessing these qualities:
3. Accessibility of Physicians
This measures the ease of access to one’s designated physician. This is a useful measure to watch for prospective parent, as it is important to go with a caring provider that is also easily within one’s reach at various stages of the TTC process. We have compiled the ranking based on users’ experiences.
Please find the ranking below:
4. Availability of Embryology Laboratory and Embryologists in the Clinic
The work of the embryologist cannot be overemphasized. Indeed one can easily conclude that the chances of success of the prospective parent depend as much on the quality of the embryologist as it does on the physician. The embryologist freezes the egg, thaws the egg, handles the gametes, selects the right sperm and manages the embryo.
A good embryologist and a good embryology lab significantly increase the likelihood of conception. The work of a good embryologist entails the careful coordination of a number of delicate variables in order to ensure the delivery of healthy embryos- the slightest misstep on the part of the embryologist could lead to painful financial and emotional costs. The prospective parent would do well to go with a fertility clinic with experienced embryologists who handle at least a hundred and fifty cycles per year, as this guarantees they have had the requisite practice to handle yours well.
Ranked below are the major fertility clinics according to the quality of their embryologist(s) and laboratory:
5. State-of-the-art Technology
The quality of the facilities is crucial. You want a fertility clinic that is well-equipped with the state-of-the-art diagnostic machines and an excellent, first-rate lab, and also has enough wherewithal and competence to handle the challenges of running a knowledge-intensive clinic in an infrastructure- challenged country like Nigeria.
6. Advanced Genetic Screening
Pre-implantation Genetic Screening/Diagnosis is of increasing importance in assisted reproductive technology and it is justly so because it enables the clinic to determine which embryos have the adequate number of chromosomes and will eventually result in a successful, healthy birth (euploid) and the ones that might result in a miscarriage or unhealthy baby (aneuploid).
There’s also Compatibility Genetic Test done to identify the presence of genes in prospective parents that cause diseases they may likely pass on to their baby. While expensive and not without its detractors, many prospective parents will find themselves having to turn to this option as a means of ensuring a greater chance of success in their TTC journey.
Below is a rank of Nigeria’s fertility clinics according to their PGS/CGS capabilities:
7. Psychological Support during Treatment
Trying to conceive through assisted reproductive science can be an emotionally difficult experience for many of the couples involved. Many of the women undergoing fertility treatments have reported experiencing depression, anger and shame in the course of treatment.
One major exacerbating factor is being accosted by the object of one’s desire – a healthy, bouncing, beautiful, child- almost at every corner of the public space. It is important to stay strong and focused by having intangible sources of strength: faith in higher power, or a strong emotional safety net in family and friends. It is also highly important to have a clinic that thoroughly understands these emotional challenges and have structures in place to cope with them.
Please find the clinics ranked according to the quality of psychological support during treatment:
8. Psychological Support (Post-Treatment)
One of the most daunting issues with assisted reproductive technology is that there’s really no huge guarantee of success. In United States, the success rate among women less than thirty-five years is forty-eight percent (48%). While a lucky minority would beat infertility on their first try, the average patient “will cycle 2.3 to 2.7 times before success” (Fertility IQ).
A sizeable percentage would require even more cycles than the average, and the adoption of multiple strategies before achieving success. Which means that before that bouncing baby comes, there would be attempts that end up in failed cycles and possibly, miscarriage. It is therefore important to choose a fertility clinic with sufficient expertise in providing the much-needed counsel and support to the patient post-treatment.
Please find below a ranking of this capacity in the various fertility clinics in Nigeria:
9. Quality of Ancillary Staff
Asides yourReproductive Endocrinologist (RE), there will be interaction with other staff members of the clinic: embryologist, nurses and other designated staff who’d be expected to provide feedback on a periodic basis concerning your progress in the TTC journey.
There will be anxiety-laden occasions, hence it is important that the fertility clinic have friendly, professional and empathetic staff human beings handling these sensitive tasks.
Please find below a ranking based on the quality of the ancillary staff:
10. Success Rate
Some of Nigeria’s fertility clinics have posted fantastic figures as high as sixty and sixty-two percent as their success rate. However, this is doubtful. In the United States and the United Kingdom- developed countries with better technology and much more reliable data- the success rates for all age categories are below fifty percent (50%).
For example the success rate in infertility treatment for women below thirty-five years in US is forty-eight percent (48%), in UK it is forty-six percent (46%). The success rate for women in the thirty-five-to-forty age bracket in US and UK are thirty-three (33%) and thirty-one (31%) percentage points respectively. The success rate for patients that are forty-one and forty-two years of age in US and UK are thirteen (13%) and twelve (12) percent respectively. Above the age of forty-two, the success rates for US and UK are four (4%) percent apiece. Yet some Nigerian fertility clinics boast of two-digit percentages for women above forty-two. This is certainly difficult to believe.
We have deliberately included only four clinics in this particular ranking because their information seems to be the most credible, and this is the success rate among women below thirty-five years of age. There’s a caveat with this particular ranking- we were stomped in our efforts to find an accurate and verifiable data that gives a true picture of the success rates, hence our not ranking other hospitals apart from the four which we have put here. Representatives of these hospitals would do well to get in touch with us with their success rate figures in order to ensure that the most accurate information is presented to the prospective parent at all times:
This easily is one of the most important variables in choosing a fertility clinic. Assisted reproductive regimens come with steep costs running sometimes into millions of Naira. While it is good to choose a cost-friendly centre, it is also important to note that the ultimate goal is leaving the centre with a healthy baby.
However, as per price attractiveness, we have presented a ranking of the clinics below:
12. Pricing Transparency
In our research findings, some of the fertility clinics in Nigeria post comparatively low prices for their services but upon the querying of patients, we find that there are extra costs conveniently hidden from the total package posted on websites and brochures especially after putting a call through to them. It is important for the prospective parent to have a completely transparent idea of how much the TTC journey will cost.
More so, because ours is not an economy where health insurance would take care of the costs or benevolent employers would help freeze the eggs of career-focused ladies until they elect to start their TTC journey. So it is good to have a clinic completely honest and transparent with their pricing and billing.
Below is a ranking of clinics based on their price transparency:
13. Quality Management/Certification
Having proper certifications give the prospective parent some measure of quality assurance. The Bridge Clinic and Nordica seem to be the only two fertility clinics having ISO Certifications and, expectedly, the quality assurance that comes with this.
Clinics with certifications would have gone through several rigorous timed checks of laboratories and operational procedures. This is good for bench-marking standards and it is a factor consideration a prospective parent might do well to consider.
14. International Affiliation
It is assuring to know that one’s choice of fertility centre possesses international affiliation with world leaders in the industry. It exposes them to industry best practices, excellent case studies, a network of top-notch professionals, and shared technology.
All in all, it is a useful measure of organizational standards. A minority of the IVF centres in Nigeria possess affiliations with world-class organizations in Europe and the United States. Please find our ranking of this variable below:
15. Customer Service
First impression counts. Telling details about the front desk and the quality of attention given to one’s queries might show signs of what to expect from the organization. Based on secondary research and questionnaire administered to target respondents, please find a ranking of fertility clinics based on the quality of customer service:
16. Number of Clinics
Please find a ranking of the clinics according to the clinical location spread. This is especially useful for prospective parents because most clinics offer only outpatient services and it is highly important to find one in convenient proximity to one’s place of work and sources of support. The ideal situation is when one does not have to upend one’s life in the process of the TTC journey. Please find the ranking according to clinic location spread below:
17. Online Presence
And finally, please find the ranking of the fertility clinics according to their footprint online: the spread of their online media outreach, the availability of information on their website about pricing, expertise, testimonials etc.
A First-Impression Account of Some Fertility Clinics in Nigeria
George’s Memorial Medical Centre is primarily an Hospital for Women and Children whose offerings include Antenatal Care, General Gynecology and Obstetrics, Family Medicine, General Surgery, Endoscopic Surgery, IVF, And Plastic Surgery. It is located on 6, Rasheed Afolabi Williams Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki, Lagos. Its building stands out on a busy major corridor and interfaces with a popular Mega Shopping Mall: Drive Through Plaza. The reception room is well-furnished with ample chairs for visitors. At the place were six pregnant women, two couples, and three toddlers waiting to see the physician.
Visitors were attended to by three members of staff who promptly responded to enquiries and ushered them to the open waiting room to wait for medical personnel to give all desired information. On the day of visit, there were 6 pregnant women, 2 couples and 3 toddlers waiting to be seen by a physician.
We were only able to talk to a senior nursing officer, who identified herself as Chika, told us the George’s Memorial Medical Centre has been in existence for seventeen years and is designed to be a one-stop shop in Women and Children’s healthcare. She said they have a world-class medical team and are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies in gynaecological, REI and pediatric healthcare delivery.
According to Nurse Chika, the centre has run more than three thousand cycles in the last four years with a success rate of sixty-two percent!
Enquiry on IVF cost implication for women within the 42-48 year age bracket is as follows:
Registration – N10, 000.00
Consultation – N40, 000.00
Preliminary Test – N300, 000.00
ICSI/Recipient Cycle – N1, 500,000.00
Donor Sperm – N35, 000.00
NORDICA FERTILITY CENTRE
Nordica Fertility Centre is located on 106/108 Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos. And it also has centres in Surulere, Asaba, and Asokoro – Abuja. We passed through a walkway filled with pictures of babies leading to a very busy reception room. This is without doubt the busiest of all the clinics we visited as lots of activities were going on and we were able to meet Nurse Kemi, who is a client liaison officer. She was highly professional and took her time to attend to all of our her enquiries.
Nurse Kemi told us Nordica has one of the best advanced genetic testing and screening facilities in Nigeria, and has helped bring over 2,400 babies into the world since its founding in 2003. She also said they have the largest sperm bank in sub-Saharan Africa, and pioneered the Intra-cytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI)technology in sub-Saharan Africa.
The IVF cost implication for women within the 42-48 year age bracket using donor egg is 2.2 Million Naira.
The Olive Branch Clinic is located on Plot 2, Block 44, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. It solely offers fertility services to prospective parents. The Clinical Director is Dr. Ikenna Emeka. Apart from the director, the clinic also has a Consultant Gynaecologist and a resident Embryologist. The reception room is tastefully furnished and very comfortable. The two desk officers we met were very professional and friendly.
The Patient Liaison Officer and Head Nurse, Mrs. Uju Edegbe, ushered us into her tastefully furnished office where she gave insights into their activities. She said Olive Branch is all about IVF. Though with no complimentary services, the centre makes medical referrals where absolutely necessary. According to her, the clinic has done about 2000 circles to date with a 60% success rate.
The cost implication of an IVF for women within the 42-48 year age bracket is put at N2.7 Million Naira, without including the drugs needed after transfer of the embryo. Registration fee is 120 Thousand Naira.
The Bridge Clinic is one of the oldest fertility centres in Nigeria, and is located on Plot 66, Oduduwa Way, Ikeja. The building is elegant, the receptionist was highly professional, and the wait time very short.
Nurse Chinyere informed us the Bridge Clinic started seventeen years ago in Victoria Island before moving to their present edifice in Ikeja, GRA. They also have centres in Abuja and Port Harcourt..
Nurse Chinyere also said the Bridge Clinic is one of the oldest fertility centres in the country, and many of the new centres have staff or doctors that have once worked at Bridge Clinic.
Enquiry on IVF cost implication for women within the 42-48 year age bracket is as follows:
Registration / Consultation – N20, 000.00
Test – N240, 000.00
IVF Treatment (Donor Egg) – N1, 815,000.00
Drugs – N500, 000.00
St. Ives Specialist Hospital is on 12, Salvation Road, Opebi, Ikeja, and is a one-stop shop Hospital offering dedicated services in Women, Children and Family healthcare. They have different units including a Pharmacy shop, Gynecology, Pediatrics, Medical Cardiology, Surgery Units respectively.
The Hospital has been in operation for thirteen years, according to Nurse Olatosin, and has a fully-equipped theatre, and Laboratory. She informed us the centre has carried out 3,000 cycles and has a 42% success rate. Treatment period is between 4 and 6 weeks.
Enquiry on IVF cost implication for women within the 42-48 year age bracket is as follows:
Registration / Test – N80,000.00
Donor Eggs – N1,300,000.00
Self Egg – N900,000.00
Donor Sperm if applicable – ` N75,000.00
Truecare Fertility Clinic is located at No 5 Ogabi Street, Off Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island. The physical structure is pretty small, and the place looks a little shabby. The receptionist was non-commitant. However I met the resident friendly Doctor, Doctor Isi, who informed me about True Care’s just concluded promo.
She said they have carried out about 2,000 cycles with success rate of 38 percent. Treatment is 4 to 6 weeks, and the rates are as follows:
Registration / Consultation – N20,000.00
Test – N150,000.00
IVF excluding drugs – N1,200.000.00
Donor Eggs – N200,000.00
Sperm donor N50,000.00
IUI for 3 circles (injections + drugs) N400,000.00
Medical Art Centre is on 21, Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja. Its Director, Prof. Ashiru is a medical practitioner of renown and one of the pioneers of assisted reproductive technology in Nigeria.
We met Dr. Ify Atuckukwu who told me the centre has a success rate of 52 percent. Enquiry on IVF cost implication for women within the 42-48 year age bracket is as follows:
Registration / Investigation: N250,000.00
It was difficult to find this clinic, located on Oladimeji Alo Street, Lekki. There was nothing to indicate it was a fertility clinic and indeed seemed they operated from an uncompleted building. Even the gateman was nowhere in sight and came only after we had banged the gates for fifteen minutes.
The receptionist we met was unprofessional and could not answer any of our enquiries, directing us instead to call the founder Dr. Ogunkoya on his number.