IVF is the most common and most successful course of treatment for people who are struggling to conceive.
A cycle of IVF involves the woman taking medications and fertility hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs. The eggs are then collected and combined with sperm to achieve fertilisation and create embryos.
In some cases, the doctor may recommend Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). This is a type of IVF treatment in which the sperm is injected directly into the egg to achieve fertilisation.
If one or more eggs are fertilised, they are left to develop for up to six days. The best quality embryo will then be selected and transferred back to the woman’s womb. Any remaining viable embryos can be frozen for future use.
IVF is a complex treatment and it is helpful to understand what is involved before consulting with your doctor or clinic. For a more detailed overview of IVF, visit the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and the Mayo Clinic.
IVF Options in Hong Kong
When deciding to do IVF in Hong Kong, it is important to know that there are three options available: the public health system; as a private patient in the public system; and the private healthcare sector. Each of the three options has different costs and benefits to be considered. A complete list of licensed providers of IVF and other fertility treatment can be found here.
The Public System
IVF is provided in three public hospitals in Hong Kong: the Kwong-Wah Hospital (Dr. Stephen Chow Chun-Kay Assisted Reproduction Centre); and two teaching hospitals: Prince of Wales Hospital (CUHK ART Unit) and Queen Mary Hospital (HKU CARE). Eligible couples can receive partial subsidy funding from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority for up to three IVF cycles.
To be eligible for funded IVF in the Hong Kong Public system, the couple must be legally married and both partners must sign a consent form. Single people and same sex couples are excluded. The female partner must be a Hong Kong resident, aged under 40 years at the time of beginning treatment, and have no biological children.
The waiting time for IVF in public hospitals in Hong Kong can be up to 3 years. However, the waiting period is often much shorter than you will be told when registering. It is worth registering for the public system even if you think you will be over the age limit by the time you get an appointment, or if you plan to do IVF in a private clinic in the meantime.
The cost of doing IVF in a public hospital is substantially less than using a private clinic. Couples pay up to HK$25,000 for all medication, procedures, and embryo storage for up to three cycles. A detailed price list for public IVF at Prince of Wales Hospital can be found here.
When undergoing treatment in the public system, patients generally have little input into the process and must follow the protocol prepared for them. For example, you cannot elect to do IVF with ICSI if the doctor thinks it’s unnecessary in your case. There is also very little flexibility for appointment times, and appointments for the many ultrasounds and blood tests are usually scheduled for the early morning. You will not see the same doctor every time and you will generally have very little opportunity to ask questions, so it is important to come prepared. The experience can feel quite impersonal, but the quality of treatment is high and many IVF doctors working in the private sector have previously worked in the public teaching hospitals.
Private Route Within the Public System
The two teaching hospitals, Prince of Wales Hospital (CUHK ART Unit) and Queen Mary Hospital (HKU CARE), also offer a private treatment option. Wait times for treatment are much shorter but the cost is substantially higher. A detailed price list for private treatment through the public system at Prince of Wales Hospital can be found here, and Queen Many Hospital here.
When using the private route in the public system, the only requirement is that the couple is heterosexual and legally married at the time of treatment.
Treatment is generally more personalised and there may be more flexibility with appointment times. There is still no guarantee that you will see the same doctor at all of your appointments, but you will have more of an opportunity to ask questions and discuss your treatment options.
The Private Health Sector
There are many private clinics offering IVF in Hong Kong. To access treatment the couple must be legally married, and each partner must sign a consent form. There is generally no age limit for treatment, but this is at the discretion of each clinic. Under Hong Kong law, single and same-sex couples are ineligible for assisted reproduction treatment.
One of main benefits of the private system is the short waiting period for treatment. You will generally be able to get an appointment in a private clinic within a couple of weeks although you may have to wait several weeks or months to see certain doctors.
The private system also affords patients more flexibility and choice. Once you choose your doctor you will see the same specialist throughout your treatment. This generally means you will receive more personalised care and have more opportunity discuss your treatment options.
The costs of doing IVF through a private clinic are substantially higher than going through the public system. IVF packages usually cost between HK$100,000 and $150,000 per cycle, depending on the clinic and the services required for your particular case. Keep in mind all costs are likely on a per-cycle basis and it is not unusual for couples to need several cycles of IVF before they are successful.