IVF in Taiwan or Philippines?

Originally written on July 16, 2016 by Archie. You can find the blog at https://thestoryofaichi.wordpress.com/

It was 7 and a half years ago when we first said our I dos. We were greeted with warm smiles, congratulations and of course exuberant wishes of having babies. I thought we would immediately have one after a year or two, but after 7 years, we’re still waiting.

We already tried different methods. We tried acupuncture, IUI, IVF, lucky charms, prayers, and even the sky lantern in Pingxi District to boost our probability of having a baby. We already consulted at least 8 doctors and several priests but the results were dismal. I guess the only thing that we can share is our experience of having these procedures.

IVF is not an exciting process. It is expensive and when it fails, the disappointment is gut-wrenching. So far, we’re on our 3rd IVF in Taiwan. 2 in Taipei and now in Taichung. People are asking me why are we doing IVF in Taiwan and not in the Philippines. It is scary to have this kind of procedure done outside your comfort zone, where English is not the primary language. But the advantage of having this procedure done in Taiwan greatly outweighs the disadvantages. It depends on your priority but one of the reasons is that we believe the expertise of the doctors here is better than in our home country. There are many advantages and disadvantages but let me list down the differences of IVF in the Philippines, Mackay, and Lee Women’s Hospital.

One of the problems I have back home is the worsening traffic conditions. We spend several hours just to drive to the hospital. It is not uncommon to stay in our car for 3 hours for a 15 minute consultation. Aside from the traffic, we also have to wait for our doctor. We have to wait for another 2-3 hours. It’s actually shorter than our previous doctor where we normally wait for 4-5 hours. I don’t blame the doctors but I haven’t had a doctor who is always on time.

IVF is an expensive procedure but the cost of doing it in the Philippines is twice as much compared to Taiwan. After adding the plane tickets (for two), hotel, food and some side trips, it is still a little cheaper to have the procedure in Taiwan. The technology is also better.

Another reason why we like having the procedure in Taiwan is that the medical process here is more efficient. Usually we just get a number, talk to the doctor and everything is placed in order. We get a piece of paper for the payment and medicines. After paying the fees, we move on to the next counter where our medicines are already prepared. If we need to have a test, we just get our number and wait for a few minutes. In Mackay Hospital, all of our medical results are already in the computer so after the tests, all the data are already in the hands of our doctor.

We also have to contend with long lines for the consultations but we don’t mind knowing that the doctor arrives on time. He usually spends around 1-2 minutes per patient so the line moves fast. The process here is very efficient but I think that’s also one of the disadvantages of having the procedure done here. We often feel that we are treated like a product in a factory. I guess that’s the trade off of having an efficient medical procedure.

What we like back home is that the doctors spend time explaining your condition. My wife also told me that during checkups, they use a sarong to cover you and ask if you’re doing okay. My wife was rattled on her first checkup here in Taiwan. She was asked to remove her pants in front of the male doctor without any cover. She was asked to lie down and the doctor went on to do his business. There was also a time when there was a male intern accompanying the doctor while he was checking my wife’s private part. I know they’re professionals and they’re used with this setup, but coming from a conservative country, it was a bit of a culture shock for the both of us. I guess culturally, the doctors in the Philippines are more caring and mindful of the patient. Doctors here in Taiwan are more business-like in their approach. If you’re planning to have an IVF procedure in Taiwan, this is something that you should think about. Treat it is a procedure. Nothing more, nothing less.

We had our first two IVFs in Mackay and we’re doing the third one in Lee Women’s Hospital. Both of them are well known in doing IVF. Mackay is one of the largest hospitals in Taiwan, albeit a little old. The hospital is teeming with people who are there for their checkups. Most of the patients are old people and I was surprised that they are mostly alone. We’re happy with our experience in Mackay but sadly, we didn’t get the desired result. We think that they are too passive with their dosage because my wife’s eggs didn’t grow big enough for the transfer and while some of the eggs did grow to the desired size, the quality was really bad. Everything is computerized and very efficient in this hospital. Their International Affairs Dept. is also very friendly. Aside from that, being located in Taipei and near the MRT, it is more convenient. We initially wanted to have our 3rd IVF done in Mackay but decided otherwise because we thought we needed a more aggressive treatment.

Reading reviews from the internet, I was hesitant to have the procedure done in Lee Women’s Hospital. Although there are positive results, we’ve read that the place looks like a sketchy apartment. Having been to Mackay, we didn’t want to go somewhere where my wife’s health will be compromised. But with 2 failed IVFs in Mackay, we decided to check on Lee Women’s Hospital on the behest of my Mom. We gave in and visited Lee Women’s Hospital early this year. We were surprised and pleased to see that they moved to a better place. We were invited to their opening ceremony that same week but we had to decline because we had to get back home. The building definitely looks better than Mackay hospital. If you’re going to compare Lee Women’s and Mackay, it’s like Mackay has the same ambience as St Luke’s Quezon City while Lee Women’s is like St. Luke’s in BGC.

One disadvantage of having the IVF done in Lee Women’s is that it is costlier than Mackay. We had to do several tests for chromosome abnormalities which we did not have to do in Mackay. The medicines while cheaper, are given in a higher dosage and they introduced new expensive medicines for the improvement of the egg. My wife also had to do a Preimplantion Genetic Screening (PGS). We still don’t know if this is a better procedure but we have high hopes because all of the test results are showing positive signs.

Although there are a lot of advantages of having the procedure done in Taiwan, it is still a viable option to have it done in the Philippines. Even if doctors are often late for their appointments, they seem to show more care for their patients. Having this procedure is a very personal decision so it helps to know that the doctor cares for you and you’re in your comfort zone. For first timers, I think Mackay is a better option but if you’re a little desperate on having a baby, you should consider Lee Women’s Hospital.

Please check my wife’s take on doing IVF in Philippines or in Taiwan


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