Answers to frequently asked questions
or problems concerning your IVF journey at Serum
- Because we really care about you having a healthy baby. Our only motivation is to achieve 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 consultations. Blood tests can be performed on the spot with results on the same 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 customised protocols to maximise 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 additional treatments such as Intralipids, LIT and antibiotic therapies economically.
- We offer both own egg and donor egg (and donor sperm) treatments without long waiting lists.
- We treat our donors with utmost care, so we are able to recruit donors of excellent character.
- 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 other countries.
- Because treatment at Serum is friendly and stress-free – it helps you connect with people who are warm and positive and always looking for solutions to your fertility issues.
Since January 2021, Serum has moved to new premises at the southern of Athens, Lykovrysi, 26 Sofokli Venizelou Str. 14123. It is a quiet and peaceful location at the southern of Athens. The new building is an advanced, newly equipped, spacious, modern, and friendly environment. It is arranged over 2 big floors with reception, embryology lab and operating rooms on the ground floor, consulting rooms on the first floor, the administration offices on the second floor and sperm lab, paperwork department and acupuncture rooms on the underground 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 and a coffee bar in the reception and first floor where it is nice to chat with other couples going through treatment and you will find yourself forming friendships when you least expect it!
Our donors are mainly 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. All donors are screened for infections and hereditary diseases and their family health history is reviewed before they are accepted. They are regularly tested for Syphilis, HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis B & C, gonorrhoea, herpes, and any other sexually transmitted disease. We screen for many genetic and infectious diseases, including thalassemia, Chlamydia karyotype, cystic fibrosis (75% of the genes – the remaining risk is 0,6%, namely 1/166), 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 programme, and we try to attract donors who will have a long-term relationship with the clinic. Many of them tend to be well-educated, qualified, and motivated ’self-starters’. They know that they help other people fulfil their dream for a child and they are aware of how sacred this purpose is.
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 do not charge extra for patients doing IVF with us who want to use Sperm from our own bank. All donors are screened for infections and family health history and the information that is recorded about them is similar to the information recorded for egg donors as required by the Greek law. We pride ourselves in only accepting sperm donors whose sperm performs well in our extremely extensive screening tests and we try to offer donors with proven fertility.
If you want to choose your own donor sperm, you can arrange to import it from one of the large European cryobanks, such as Cryos or ESB at your own expense.
We ask for your basic information in our consult form as well as photos. If you wish, you may include a donor wish list where you outline what donor characteristics are important for you so that priority is given to those. We will never compromise on the basic physical characteristics – hair colour, eye colour, etc. because we believe it is important for the baby’s welfare that they look like their 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.
We keep detailed records of 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 your baby might need in the future.
However, we screen all prospective donors personally, look after their scans, stimulation, and egg collections and therefore get to know the donors well and form 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 health history, and other children.
Most couples have a consultation 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.
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 egg quality while sometimes it can be uncomfortable for the donors, and we cannot know if there may be long term effects for the baby’s health as a result of using high doses of stimulation. We therefore aim for 8-12 eggs and tailor our donor protocols to avoid under or over stimulation. The donors are treated in the same building and are given exactly the same level of care as that of the recipients and the own egg patients. We want our donors to be happy and have them come back and donate again as well as 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.
We offer IUI (intrauterine insemination) with partner sperm or DIUI with donor sperm (from our Sperm bank or any other European sperm bank) with or without stimulation.
The Greek law permits fertility treatment (all kinds) for women up to age 54.
We use our experience and on-the-day sperm tests to select the best methods to use free of charge. Our highly trained and experienced embryology team decides on the spot the best fertilisation method. ICSI is out of charge. IMSI costs 300E, PICSI costs 400E and Assisted Hatching costs 300E.
Yes, but usually only for serious, genetic medical conditions. We can offer PGD/ 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 unforeseen effects on the baby. We cannot offer sex selection – that is illegal in Greece.
It is easy to have an initial telephone consultation with Serum after sending your medical history questionnaire by email. You can use this service to decide whether you need to travel to Athens for a consultation/tests before your cycle or whether you can just book your cycle.
Ultrasound and Blood tests in the UK and Ireland
In the UK
Our patients have recommended:
The Fetal Medicine Centre
137 Harley Street London, W1G 6BG United Kingdom
Tel. 0044 (0) 2074860476
Cherish UK Sutton Coldfield
http://www.cherish-uk.com/ open during weekends Tel: 0121 354 4777
Phone: 07580 611 879
This-is-my – Leeds, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield 0845 272 9999
The Verulam Clinic in St Albans, Hertfordshire 01727 833100
The Birth Company, Harley St 020 7725 0528
Glasgow Centre for Reproductive medicine 0141 – 891 – 8749
The Path Lab, Welbeck St, London (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 beta-hcg, progesterone and scans) 0117 3215195
Beard Mill clinic, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire 01865 301 537
Ultrasound direct, locations all over the UK but most centres only scan on 1 or 2 days per week – use the online booking form to check availability in your area http://www.ultrasound-direct.com
Agora IVF clinic, Hove 01273 229410
MUMS in Solihull (scans, beta-hCG or progesterone) 0121 704 2669
Mr Haddad Chester, Wrexham and Abergele www.nabilhaddad.co.uk
Northwest Fertility Chester, Liverpool, Nantwich, Manchester www.northwestfertility.co.uk
The Imaging Centre, the Leamington Centre, Number 7, Clarendon Place, Leamington Spa. CV32 5QL, 08442437837
Babybond Northern Ireland 438 Lisburn Road Belfast TEL: 00448453511155
Sheena Lewis, SpermComet Ltd, sperm analysis and sperm DNA fragmentation damage
The Birth Company 137 Harley Street London, W1G 6BF
Tel: 0207 725 0528 Fax: 0207 725 0529
email@example.com Open during Weekends
1-7 Harley street
Sherlock Holmes Pharmacy- 82a Baker Str, London, W1U 6AA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Only for blood tests!!!!
Our patients have recommended:
Arlington House Medical Centre
Millplot, Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland EMAIL: email@example.com Tel: 061 200988
BABY SCAN Swords
PLAZA 1, PLAZA VILLAGE SWORDS CO. DUBLIN Tel: (01) 2897605
Kent Ayres, The Well, Beacon Hospital, Dublin – Scans, HCG + Progesterone Blood Tests with same day results each Tel: 01 294 5444
Kilkenny Fertility Clinic, Kilkenny City – Scans, they cannot do same day results for HCG + Progesterone Blood Tests Tel: 056-77-51420
We believed this information was correct in March 2020 but our feedback by patients may change.
Hysteroscopies are normally scheduled at a maternity Hospital in Athens close to Serum. You will need pre-op screening at the hospital before the surgery (filling in some forms, having 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 in the forms.
You will be asked to fast (no food or drink or water) from midnight the night before your hysteroscopy. You will need to remove contact lenses, make up, jewellery and nail polish and bring some sanitary towels with you. It is 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. You are discharged by the hospital on the same day.
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. Or visit our website where all details are offered. There is always the option to take a biopsy during your first consultation here.
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. But it can easily be booked for the following day.
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 such as fibroid removal, but if needed, we can do hysteroscopy at any time of the month you are not bleeding heavily and cannot be pregnant.
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 hysteroscopy/antibiotics. It is likely that if hysteroscopy has dealt with a problem, pregnancy will result quickly, so it is 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.
You can get your medication in Greece but also in your home country. All medication you will need for your treatments can be bought 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 (email or hard copy) for all medicines to buy in your home country.
FERTILITY2U HOME CARE PHARMACY
Homecare Fertility Drugs | Online Pharmacy | Fertility2U
STORK FERTILITY MEDICATION:
Fax prescription to +44 845 548 4029 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and then Post original prescription as soon as possible to:
Biodose Services, Unit 3 Ardane Park, Phoenix Avenue,
Green Lane Industrial Estate, Featherstone WF7 6EP, UNITED KINGDOM
A: Cardinal Point, Park Road, Rickmansworth, WD3 1RE
Rigcharm in London (formerly Ali’s Chemist):
Contact: Yasser Latif: email@example.com
93 Watney Street Stepney London E1 2QE
Fertility2u in Leicester
Tel: 01827 818 321
Address: Fertility2u, First Floor 1 High View Close, Leicester, LE4 9LJ
Sherlock Holmes Pharmacy
Address: 82a Baker St London W1U 6AA
Dosette Pharmacy, Alan Singh
Scripts can be sent in a pdf format via email. Scanned copy is ok too. The original scripts do not have to be sent to pharmacy
Tel: 0115 8373098
100 Sherbrook Road unit 7b, Daybrook Daybrook, Nottinghamshire, NG5 6AT, England
Boots pharmacy fax: 00442076211802
ASDA Pharmacy, Drayton High Road, Norwich, NR65DT
fax number is 00 44 1626 333917
1 Hawthorn Park
Beacon South Quarter
TELEPHONE: 01 206 3388
The Fertility Pharmacy
0330 111 8574 | 07787 197332
Hadfield House, Congleton Road, Gawsworth, Macclesfield, SK11 9ER
Other pharmacies in the UK may agree to accept an email prescription in an emergency, provided you can satisfy them that you will get the hard copy forwarded to them quickly.
We tailor our protocols to your medical history and scans to ensure your lining will be ready at the right time, so our protocol for your treatment will be individualised.
Our protocols are very much tailored to the individual patient, and we use many different protocols and 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 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 consultation).
In some cases, the best option will be to avoid stimulating the ovaries and just 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 have very low ovarian reserve and do not respond to stimulation.
There are many couples who come to us from all over the world with “unexplained infertility”. We carefully screen for issues such as infection, sperm or uterine issues that may have been ignored elsewhere, but in some cases, immune treatments provide a solution for their infertility.
-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 such as elevated TNFa)
– High dose fish oil (for inflammatory immune issues)
-GCSF daily injection (repeat implantation failure)
-Letrozole/Femara (repeat implantation failure associated with endometriosis)
-Injections of HCG 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 2 or 3 and then further embryos on day 5)
Where the sperm is of poor quality, instead of relying on ICSI to deal with the problem, we try to improve the quality before IVF if possible. 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, sperm DNA fragmentation test and sperm maturation assessment (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 maximise the chances of success according to your own wishes (e.g., half IVF, half ICSI, surgical sperm retrieval or switching to sperm donation if needed by choosing from our Sperm bank).
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 (you can 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.