Most frequent questions concerning assisted reproduction at Serum.

  • Why choose SerumIVF Centrer

    •   Because we really care about you having a healthy baby.  Our only motivation is to try to get the best for everyone – our patients, donors and the resulting babies. You will soon find that you have a strong personal relationship with Serum – from the doctors to the nurses and administrative staff- which outlasts your treatment and remains even after your baby is born.
    •   We offer rapid access to tests and consults.  Blood tests can be done on the spot with results the same day or the next day. If an abnormal scan suggests a problem we can offer hysteroscopy at the local private hospital the next day.  Sperm DNA fragmentation tests can be done within 4 hours (which means you can make decisions about treatment on the same day) and we can arrange for you to see other specialists as needed e.g., an immunologist.

    •   We take a lot of care with customized protocols to maximize your chance of a baby. We thoroughly examine previous protocols/ unsuccessful treatments, learn from them and alter them in order to meet individual needs.

    •   We can often pick up on problems that other doctors have missed e.g., hidden infections, undiagnosed issues with the sperm, undiagnosed adenomyosis, fibroids etc

    •   We can offer ‘niche’ treatments like Intralipids, LIT and antibiotic therapies economically.

    •   We offer both own egg and donor egg (and donor sperm) treatments without waiting lists.
    •   We treat our donors with utmost care so we are able to recruit donors of excellent character.
    •   Although egg and sperm donation is anonymous under Greek law, we can offer detailed (non-identifying) information about your donor.
    •   You will not feel you are just another number and another statistic – you will feel like our own family.

    •   Because the costs of treatment are economical compared to clinics in Spain, US and UK.
    •   Because treatment at Serum is friendly and stress-free – it helps you to cycle with people who are warm and positive and always looking for solutions to your fertility issues.

  • What is Serum like?

    Serum is a quite small but modern clinic situated on a quiet street in the Ambelokipi area, Athens (Metro Line No 3).  It is arranged over 5 floors with reception on the ground floor, consulting rooms on two other floors and the embryology lab and an operating room (for egg collections, scans and embryo transfers) with two recovery cubicles on the third floor.  Appointment times are flexible and our doctors stay until they have seen everyone who needs to be seen (which also means that you may have to wait for a while in the reception area). The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, there are sofas in reception where it’s nice to chat with other couples going through treatment and you’ll find yourself forming friendships when you least expected it! There are plenty of cafes nearby to pick up a coffee or a snack and the historic centre of Athens is only 4 minutes by metro.  For the seaside or the Islands you just need to take the metro or tram down to the harbour or the beach.

  • Who are our egg donors ?

    Our donors are mainly originally from Greece, Poland and Ukraine, usually in their twenties and often with young children of their own.  Our darker haired Greek donors tend to be a good match for our Italian and even Asian patients, but our blonde, blue eyed donors often give an excellent match for our Scandinavian recipients.   So we can match almost all Caucasian colourings.  We also have smaller numbers of African origin donors. All donors are screened for infections and hereditary diseases and their family medical history is reviewed before they are accepted.  They are regularly tested for Syphilis, HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis B & C, gonorrhea, herpes and any other sexually transmitted disease. They have never used intravenous drugs except during medical treatment. We screen for many genetic and infectious diseases, including sickle cell, thalassemias, Chlamydia karyotype, cystic fibrosis (75% of the genes – the remaining risk is 0,6%, namely 1/166), haemoglobinopathies and whatever the clinic considers will be beneficial in the specific case.

    Donors are recruited only by word of mouth (advertising for donors is not legal in Greece), so donors tend to be friends of previous donors who become familiar with the process whilst their friend is donating.   We are very careful about which donors can be accepted on to the program, and we try to attract donors who will have a long term relationship with the clinic.  Many of them are economic migrants from Poland and Ukraine and tend to be well educated and qualified and also motivated, ’self-starters’. They know that they help other people fulfill their dream for a child and they are aware of how sacred this purpose is.

    We don’t accept donations from women who in severe financial difficulties or under other severe stresses as we feel it would not be a true donation and could be psychologically harmful to the donor in later years if she regretted a donation she made under duress.

  • Who are the sperm donors?

    Sperm donors are often young Greek men (not all Greek men are dark!) and are personally known to us (again, donors are recruited by word of mouth, so by recommendations of friends), but if a different ethnic match is required, there is the possibility to find it at Serum Sperm Bank but also have access to sperm from a commercial cryobank.  We make no extra charge for patients doing IVF with us who want to use Sperm from our own bank.  All donors are screened for infections and family medical history and the information that is recorded about them is similar to the information recorded for egg donors.  As well as all the screening and quarantine procedures required by law, we pride ourselves in only accepting sperm donors whose sperm perform well in our extremely extensive screening tests and we try to offer donors with proven fertility.

    If you want to choose your own anonymous donor sperm you can arrange to import it from one of the large international cryobanks like Cryos, Xytex or ESB at your own cost.

  • What is the matching process?

    We ask for your basic information in our consult form as well as photos.  If you want, you may include a donor wishlist where you outline what is important for you as donor characteristics so that priority is given to those.  We will never compromise on the basic physical characteristics – hair colour, eye colour etc because we believe its important for the baby’s welfare that he looks like his family, but the more the additional criteria that need to be met, the lower the number of potential donors who can be considered for you.
    We believe that matching a donor is more than just physical characteristics –we try to anticipate what donor child might ‘fit’ into your family.

    Greek law allows the anonymity of the donors to be overturned only if the child had a severe medical need.

    We keep detailed records on all the donors.  Under Greek law, if a clinic were to close down, these records have to be transferred to another clinic to ensure that they are always preserved.   As an extra precaution, in case there is ever a need for it in future, Serum DNA Library keeps a DNA sample from each donor on file, which can be made available to the recipient.  So you have the extra security of being able to do any necessary tests on the donor’s DNA in the future that your baby might need.

  • What information is available about the donors?

    Donation is strictly anonymous and we ask you to sign a consent form agreeing that you and your child will never know the donor’s identity.  However, we screen all prospective donors personally, look after their scans, stimulation, and the egg collections and therefore get to know the donors well so forms an accurate opinion of them which can also be shared with you. Also, a file on each donor is kept with basic information – height, weight, nationality, hair colour, eye colour, blood group, profession, family medical history, other children.

    Most couples have a consult to discuss what is important for them in terms of donor characteristics. If you prefer, you can choose not to ask about the donor until you know if your cycle has been successful.

  • How are the egg donors treated?

    We treat our donors with utmost care and we would never want to compromise their health and well-being.  We don’t overstimulate our donors because we believe it compromises the egg quality as well as being uncomfortable for the donors and we cannot know if there may be long term effects for the baby’s health from using high doses of stimulation.  We therefore aim for 8-12 eggs and tailor our donor protocols to try to avoid under or over stimulation. The donors are treated in the same building and given exactly the same level of care as that of the recipients and the own egg patients. We want our donors to be happy to return to be egg donors again, and to refer their friends (but we do not like the donors to do more than 4 or 5 cycles in a 2 year period) – and there is a limit under Greek law of 10 resulting babies per country per donor.

    Because egg donation is anonymous, you will be unlikely to be in the building at the same time as the donor.   If your partner is arriving at Serum on the donor’s egg collection day to give his sperm sample, we ask him to come at a different time so he will not bump into the donor, and if you are arriving at Serum just for embryo transfer, the donor will have finished her part of the cycle 2-5 days before your visit.

  • Can I do IUI/DIUI with Serum?

    We offer IUI (intrauterine insemination) with partner sperm, DIUI with donor sperm or even to combine treatments in the same cycle, e.g., DIUI and Donor egg/Donor sperm or DIUI and donor embryo.

  • Do we offer combination of own and donor egg cycle?

    Yes, if you want to do this, we offer it, but sometimes it will not be the best option. If your own egg cycle does not progress well, we may be able to offer you a back up donor who is a suitable match for you (depending on your characteristics) at the last minute, so we may be able to switch you to a donor cycle.  If not, we can usually offer a donor cycle starting on your next period which might give you the best chance for a baby.

  • Is there an age limit?

    The Greek law permits fertility treatment (all kinds) for women up to age 50.

  • Does ICSI/IMSI/PICSI/Assisted hatching cost extra?

    We use our experience and on-the-day sperm tests to select the best methods to use free of charge.   Where appropriate we we will use a combination of methods, or do 1 method on half the batch.

  • Do we offer PGD?

    Yes, but usually only for serious, genetic medical conditions. We can offer PGD in other cases, but we are reluctant because of its invasive nature and because the technique is still new, we cannot know whether there may be some unforeseen affect on the baby.  We cannot offer sex selection – that is illegal in Greece.

  • Can I have a phone consult?

    It’s easy to have an initial telephone consultation with Serum after sending your medical history questionnaire by email. You can use a telephone consult to decide whether you need to travel to Athens for a consult/tests before you cycle or whether you can just book your cycle.

  • Where i can have a scan in the UK?

    Ultrasound and Blood tests in the UK and Eire

    In the UK

    Our patients have recommended:

    This-is-my – Leeds, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield (scans £120, betaHCG, progesterone bloods £50 each)  0845 272 9999

    Mr Pandelis Athanasias MBBS MRCOG. The Portland Hospital, 205-209 Great Portland Street London GB W1W 5AH (privategynae@gmail.com or tel: 07731 522542)

    The Verulum Clinic in St Albans, Hertfordshire (for scans 01727 833100)

    The Birth Company, Harley St (lining scans £70, follicle tracking scans £120, betaHCG bloods £60, progesterone £50) 020 7725 0528

    Glasgow Centre for Reproductive medicine (scan £115, all blood tests £45 each)  0141 – 891 – 8749

    The Path Lab, Welbeck St, London (for bloods – betaHCG £50, progesterone £30) +44 (0)20 7935 6650

    Same day Doctor, Wimpole St, London (for bloods  0141 – 891 – 8749)

    City Doc, Moorgate London,  Wimpole St London, Birmingham (for bloods and scans) 0845 0260 830

    Valentin Akande, Spire Hospital Bristol (for bloods and scans) 0117 9146501/ 07747031393

    Beard Mill clinic, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire (lining scans £50) 01865 301 537

    Ultrasound direct, locations all over UK but most centres only scan on 1 or 2 days per week (scans £99) – use the online booking form to check availability in your area  http://www.ultrasound-direct.com

    Pall Mall Medical Manchester (blood tests £69, scans £99-150) 0 161 832 2111

    MUMS in Solihull (scans £120, betaHCG or progesterone £60) 0121 704 2669

    92 Harley St London (scans £195, bloods draw fee £31, blood tests £39-34 each – they can also rewrite overseas prescriptions into a UK private prescription for a fee) 020 7034 1300

    First Choice Baby Scan Warrington (for scans) 01925 230091

    First Glimpse Chester and Wrexham (scans £95) www.firstglimpse.co.uk/clinics.html

    Mr Haddad Chester, Wrexham and Abergele (scans £200) www.nabilhaddad.co.uk

    North West Fertility Chester, Liverpool, Nantwich, Manchester (scans £200) www.northwestfertility.co.uk

    Cherish UK Sutton Coldfield (scans £80, progesterone £25, bHCG £50) http://www.cherish-uk.com/

    The Imaging Centre, The Leamington Centre, Number 7, Clarendon Place, Leamington Spa. CV32 5QL, 08442437837 (lining scan £90.00)

    Concept Fertility Clinic, Putneymead Group Medical Practice, 266 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 6TQ or Concept Fertility Clinic, Cricket Green Medical Practice,

    75 – 79 Miles Road, Mitcham, Surrey CR4 3DA, 020-3388-3000 (Aqua Scan £250)

    The Centre for Reproduction and Gynaecology Wales in Cardiff (CRGW) http://crgw.co.uk/information.php?t=Price-list&s=Costs&id=110

    https://pregnancytestlondon.co.uk/

    In Ireland

    Our patients have recommended:

    Femplus Clinic, Blanchardstown, Dublin – Scans cost €100,  HCG + Progesterone Blood Tests with same day results cost €140 Tel: 01 821 0999

    Kent Ayres, The Well, Beacon Hospital, Dublin – Scans cost €100, HCG + Progesterone Blood Tests with same day results cost €80 Tel:  01 294 5444

    Kilkenny Fertility Clinic, Kilkenny City – Scans cost €150, They cannot do same day results for HCG + Progesterone Blood Tests Tel: 056-77-51420

    Places for Aqua Scan:

    http://www.ultragyn.co.uk/fees.htm (aquascan london £390)

    http://www.midlandfertility.com/fees/list-of-charges  £240 near Birmingham

    http://www.createhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/201 £400 – Wimbledon near London

    http://www.simply-fertility.com/simply-fertility-costs/ £250 – Essex

    http://www.londonwomensclinic.com/images/uploads/downloads/PRICE_LIST_LWC_LONDONV212.pdf   £270 – London

    http://www.spirehealthcare.com/alexandra/our-facilities-treatments-and-consultants/our-consultants/mr-sadoon-sadoon/ – £350 – in Kent

    http://www.fertility-academy.co.uk/fees/ – £400 – London

    http://www.conceptfertility.co.uk/price-list/ £250 Surrey/London

    http://www.hertsandessexfertility.com/pricesandoffers/ £300 Cheshunt Harts & Essex

    http://www.gyne-health.co.uk/fees/  £300 Manchester/Nantwich

    http://www.thebridgecentre.co.uk/downloads/Bridge_Price_List_-_1_Sept_2013_V2.pdf £250 London

    We believed this information was correct at July 2012 but our views and our prices may change

  • How can I do the infection tests on menstrual blood?

    The tests can easily be done by sending a sample of menstrual fluid collected at home to Athens.  Please contact us and we can send full details.

  • How long does it take to get started?

    Once we have your questionnaire we can usually book a phone or face to face consult within 1 or 2 weeks and you can usually start treatment on your first period after the consult.

  • Having hysteroscopy in Athens

    Hysteroscopies are normally scheduled either at the Leto Hospital or the Mitera Hospital or the Rea (PEA) Hospital.  You will need pre-op screening at the hospital before the surgery (filling in some forms, some blood and urine tests and an ECG (heart monitoring)).  This takes at least an hour so it is often done at the hospital the day before.  You need to show your passport when you fill out the forms.

    You will be asked to fast (no food or drink or water) from midnight the night before your hysteroscopy. You need to remove contact lenses, make up, jewellery and nail polish and to bring some sanitary towels with you.  It’s best to leave your valuables at your hotel but you will need your passport to confirm your identity. The surgery will normally take less than 30 minutes but there can be some waiting time (emergency surgeries may need to be carried out first) and recovery time but you are often finished by midday.

  • If I have an aquascan and its abnormal can I have a hysteroscopy the same day?

    Probably not, because you need to fast (no food or water) before the general anaesthetic and we need to book you a surgical slot and a surgeon.

  • Can I have hysteroscopy at any time of the month?

    The ideal time to go is just after your period finishes – so the lining is thin but you don’t have any bleeding obscuring the ‘view’. A thin lining makes the surgery easier especially if you end up needing to have something complex done like fibroid removal, but if needed we can do hysteroscopy at any time of the month you are not bleeding heavily and cannot be pregnant.

  • Why am I being advised to try naturally after hysteroscopy?

    Where the hysteroscopy or infection testing reveals a problem that can be addressed (e.g., adhesions in the uterus that are cut away), we often advise couples to try naturally for at least 2 cycles – just in case the main barrier to infertility has just been fixed. We very often see spontaneous pregnancies after hysterscopy/antibiotics. It’s likely that if hysteroscopy has dealt with a problem, pregnancy will result quickly, so it’s worth trying for 2 or 3 cycles just in case you no longer need IVF.  Experience shows that, in these circumstances, natural conception is likely to happen quickly or not at all, so only 2 or 3 months is justified before continuing with IVF.

  • How to get to the clinic from Athens airport?

    You have several options:

    - our own driver, for the price of 50 Euros each way. He will drive you straight to the clinic or where you have planned to stay john-ioannidis@hotmail.com  tel 0030 698 25 65 291.

    - taxi from the taxi stand at the airport.  This costs about €35 during the day but €55 at night.  It’s advisable to ask for a taxi receipt.  The official fare is fixed by the government and is set out on the airport’s official website.

    -   metro from the airport to either Megaro Moussikis or Ambelokipoi and walk from there (€8 each way). Follow the signs for ‘trains’ from the arrivals area at the airport  (outside, across the road, up lift/escalator/stairs, along a moving walkway).  At the end of the moving walkway there is an atrium which has a shop, cafe, ticket booths and ticket machines.  You can buy tickets from the machines with change/small notes from the booths if you only have large notes.  After you have bought your ticket, you need to punch it (datestamp) in the machines in front of the stairs down to the trains.   All the metro trains leaving the airport are heading back to Athens – you just need to board the train that has its doors open.   There are luggage racks, but the security officers on the trains and stations prefer you to keep bags and suitcases right next to you at all times. The train runs overground initially and then goes underground when it gets nearer to Athens.   The journey takes about 35 minutes and there are usually two trains every hour – trains don’t run at night though (after about 11.30pm).   You can find the timetables on www.amel.gr.  The trains have bilingual maps inside and bilingual announcements and our patients find the metro very easy to use.  The same metro line runs down past Ambelokipoi and Megaro Moussikis (the clinic is in between those stations), through to Syntagma (the centre of Athens).

    -   X95 bus from the bus stop at the airport – cost €5.   Follow the signs for buses and buy a ticket from the booth (the booth opens just before the bus leaves).  Buses run 24 hours a day. Ask for the stop called 061040. PL.AMPELOKIPON. (Platia Ambelokipon: ΠΛ.ΑΜΠΕΛΟΚΗΠΩΝ‎) on the Street: LEOF.VAS.SOFIAS on your journey to Serum or the next stop: 060673 PL.MAVILI (ΠΛ.ΜΑΒΙΛΗ‎. platia Mavili, Mavili Square – in front of the Athinais Hotel) on the Street: LEOF.VAS.SOFIAS.

    Do not be afraid to ask the driver or other passengers to let you know when it’s your stop – you may want to print off the names of the stops in Greece but because it is the airport route most of the drivers speak English. After Platia Mavili the bus continues into central Athens (Syntagma square).  You can find bus timetables on www.oasa.gr - look for the union jack icon to see the page in English and then use the search function to show the x95 timetable.

    - book an airport transfer of prebooked taxi – many services on the internet available.

    Our clinic is at number 8, Evinou, 11527 Athens  (11527 is the greek postal district).  The road is parallel to Evrou Street.  At the Southern end (Espressaki Café), there is no road sign to tell you that you have found the right road, but there is a road sign at the Northern end of Evinou (Epoca Café) on the other corner.

    Where to stay

    The main 3 hotels nearest the clinic are: the President (http://www.president.gr/default.asp?langid=2) – which has an outdoor pool, The Athinais (http://www.athinaishotel.gr/en/athinais/default.htm) and The Airotel Alexandros (http://www.airotel.gr/index.asp?a_id=176]http://www.airotel.gr/index.asp?a_id=176]http://www.airotel.gr/index.asp?a_id=176).

    Apartments are a good option if you are staying for more than a couple of nights.  Serum staff have some very nice and well equipped 1 bedroom apartments right next door to the clinic which are let out for €70 per night. The apartments have everything you might need – washer/dryer, shower, microwave, hob, toast maker etc and a separate bedroom – with tvs in both rooms and a dvd player and dvds.

  • Can I get my medication in Greece or in my own country?

    You can get your medication in Greece but also in your home country. All medication you will need for your treatments can be bought at Serum or from a local pharmacy.  Or we can post it to you (not to some countries e.g. Norway, Canada)  or we can provide you with a prescription for all medicines to buy in your home country.

  • What protocols do we use for a donor egg cycle?

    We tailor our protocols to your medical history, scans and to ensure your lining will be ready at the right time, so our protocol for your treatment will be individualised to you.

  • What own egg protocols do we use?

    Our protocols are very much tailored to the individual patient and we use many different protocols and many different medications.  We start with a thorough review of your history and sometimes additional tests so we can determine the outline of the protocol we will use with you, but the final doses of stimulation cannot be set until we see your ovaries on the day that your stimulation is due to start (many patients arrange this scan in their home country and email the results to us after we have seen them recently for their initial consult).

  • What is natural cycle IVF?

    In some cases the best option will be to avoid stimulating the ovaries and just to let the body make only 1-3 eggs of the highest quality. We often use this option for women who cannot tolerate stimulation hormones or who have very low ovarian reserve and do not respond to stimulation.

    What immune/adjunctive treatments are available with Serum?

    There are many couples who come to us from all over the world with “unexplained infertility”. We carefully screen for issues like infection, sperm or uterine issues that may have been ignored elsewhere, but in some cases, immune treatments provide a solution for their infertility.

    We offer:

    -Paternal LIT
    -Steroids and clexane

    -Intralipids  (IV infusion)

    -Antiviral treatment with valtrex/valaciclovir .

    -Antibiotic treatment ( history of chlamydia or a positive test on the menstrual blood test).
    - Celebrex pre-treatment for inflammation reduction
    -Vaginal Viagra (in case of a thin lining, we prefer a special vaginal viagra formulation so you will need to order it and have it shipped to your home before your cycle).

    -Resveratrol supplements (for inflammatory immune issues like elevated TNFa)

    - high dose fish oil (for inflammatory immune issues)

    -GCSF daily injection (repeat implantation failure)

    -Intrauterine washes of saline, HCG or PBMC (to improve implantation rates)

    -PBMC (white cell uterine infusion) therapy (multiple IVF failures or lining thickness problems)

    -Letrozole/femara (repeat implantation failure associated with endometriosis)

    -Injections of HCG (1500 IU pregnyl) during the luteal phase and early pregnancy (history of repeat implantation failure or early miscarriage)

    - Hysteroscopy with implantation cuts

    -Serum IVF can arrange acupuncture pre and post ET.  In Greece, this can only be done by a qualified doctor and we can arrange for a doctor to come to the clinic to do it.

    -Interval double transfer (sequential transfer – transferring embryos on  day 3 and then further embryos on day day 5.

  • How important are sperm issues?

    Where the sperm is poor quality, instead of relying on ICSI to deal with the problem, if possible we try to improve the quality before IVF.  We screen for infections and often suggest a course of antibiotics and antioxidants before attempting IVF.  We also offer enhanced testing for sperm problems e.g.  anti sperm antibodies, acrosome reaction-mitochondria-chromatin assessment and sperm DNA fragmentation test (same day at low cost).

    You can have full information about the sperm that will be used for your cycle and we can select from many options on the day of egg collection to maximize the chances of success according to your own wishes (e.g. half IVF, half ICSI, or half own sperm/half donor sperm – from our in-house sperm bank).

  • How long do I have to stay in Athens?

    For an own egg cycle, you will usually need a baseline scan just before the stimulation starts – ideally in Athens but otherwise in your home country (then you email the full results to us so we can finalise the dose of your stimulation medication).   Then you will usually need to be in Athens for daily monitoring scans from day 6-7 onwards and stay until embryo transfer (7-14 days).

    For a donor egg cycle, if your partner has given the sperm already, he will not need to return to Athens.   The female partner will need to be in Athens normally just for 1 or 2 days for embryo transfer.