Sure, both clinics offer the same type of IVF services, they’re both relatively cheap compared to the UK and they both are in the Czech Republic. But how are they different, and which one would I choose? Here’s my verdict.
Reprofit – based in Brno, Czech Republic, the country’s second largest city. You can only get there by flying from Stansted with Ryanair, which might put some people off. Although Ryanair is cheap, they wack up the prices the closer you get to flying, so it’s not always a budget option. The city is pleasant and walkable, with a few nice things to do. However, a week there (IMHO) is enough, and I’m not sure I’d choose to go again if I could help it. The clinic itself is about a mile away (perhaps a little more) from the centre. It’s easy to get to a tram, but me and my husband walked most times to get there.
GENNET – based in Prague, Czech Republic, the country’s capital city. There are a million flights to Prague from the UK, ranging from a bit expensive (BA, Heathrow – although I only paid around £130 return) to super cheap (think Easyjet and WizzAir from Gatwick and Luton). Prague is beautiful, with loads to do. In all honesty, we’ve not done a huge amount yet. The most cultural thing we’ve done is the Communist museum, which was brilliant. But there’s heaps, not to mention loads of places to eat and drink around every corner. I’m not sure you’d run out of stuff to keep you amused here. The clinic is in the city centre. Me and my husband walk there from the old town. Easy.
2. Clinic and onsite facilities
Reprofit – the clinic is in a historical old building but it’s lovely and modern inside. It looks nothing from the outside, but inside it was really impressive. Impeccably clean, high-tech and the only clinic I’ve been to where you had your own bathroom (including shower) in your room. I seem to remember that Reprofit doesn’t own the whole building, so there are random people going up and down the stairs. But once you’re in Retrofit’s oasis, it’s calm, clinical and efficient. They don’t offer as many advanced add-ons as GENNET (like IMSI) from what I remember. But probably for many people’s needs, it’s more than adequate.
GENNET – from the outside, the clinic is all glass fronted, shiny and spanking new. The whole building – all four or five floors – are dedicated to the clinic. I think GENNET is also housed in what was an old building (I seem to remember from the stairs) but there’s little evidence of this. It’s a bit more vibey, GENNET. They play pop music in the waiting room, and there are coffee machines all around. You get your own room for egg collection but, compared to Reprofit, this was small with no bathroom facilities. You could also hear the nurses outside cackling non-stop in the corridor, which was a little annoying. GENNET seem to be particularly geared up for male factor, with a wide array of add-ons (DNA fragmentation tests, PICSI, MACS, MFSS etc) so ideal for our needs.
Verdict: Reprofit at a push for facilities, but GENNET for add-ons. Truth be told, there’s little between them. Compared to Jessop’s (sorry, Jessop’s – you’re NHS and that’s not your fault) both clinics are on another level of modern and advanced. You feel like you’re getting the best of the best with both. Don’t let anyone (as I’ve had) let you think going to the Czech Republic is in any way a compromise in terms of quality or standards. They are not. They are brilliant.
3. Attention to detail
Reprofit – Reprofit was the first clinic I went to, so I had little to compare it to. But they’re very laissez faire in retrospect. They put me on the short protocol, which I was happy about, but it yielded pretty crappy results (six eggs, only three of which were mature). They didn’t ask me to do a baseline AFC scan – they didn’t insist I come to them for the second stimulation scan to check blood levels. A lot of it, it seemed, was left to chance.
I believe I triggered too early at Reprofit. I know their measure is any follicle over 16mm, but I had loads of follicles (36+) and only produced a small number of eggs, whereas I think I could have got more with an extra day. (But who knows.) My experience at Reprofit therefore was truly, truly horrendous. Those five days waiting to see if my one normally fertilised egg would make it to day five… I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I think with a bit more care and attention to detail on Reprofit’s behalf, it could have been a very different story.
GENNET – the clinic verges on the point of being overly careful, but I’ve got to say, it’s much more comforting to feel no stone is left unturned. For example, they advised my husband should see their urologist (which spurred us on to see Dr Jonathan Ramsay in the UK) and that I should have immune testing (which I declined). Having said that, they did decide to remove IMSI as an option from their services without telling us, despite that being the only reason we decided to go with GENNET for our third round.
I was livid about this! Dr Ramsay had told us this was the best way forward for us, then GENNET withdrew it and we only found it the day before I was due to start stimming. Not great. On the other hand, I am massively impressed by how much they’re bothered about getting the best sperm from my husband, suggesting he give two samples on egg collection day. They’re not just doing ICSI and hoping for the best. I believe they truly care about it working.
Verdict: 100% GENNET. Where I quite liked Reprofit’s easygoing approach at first, it ain’t much fun when it doesn’t work out.
4. Cost and payment
Reprofit – Ohhh, it’s gone up! When I was there April 2018, I’m sure the cost was under £2K (£1,755). It’s now just over 2K (£2,068), which is amazing really given that it covers everything – ICSI as standard. The initial Skype consultation is free. It also amazed me that they didn’t ask for any payment until after egg transfer. So if the treatment had been cancelled at any point up to egg collection, we wouldn’t have owed them anything. Which was quite comforting.
GENNET – It’s dearer. We got in at 2018 prices, even though egg collection was in February 2019. So we’re paying 2,400EUR (£2,112), but that’s gone up by 100EUR in 2019. Still, this covers everything (ICSI as standard) so it’s massively cheaper than IVF back home. The initial Skype conversation is 100EUR, but redeemable if you go ahead with IVF. We had to pay 600EUR when we started stimming (non-refundable if the cycle gets cancelled), 600EUR after egg collection and the remainder on transfer day.
Verdict: Reprofit is cheaper and takes payment at the end, which I prefer. I’d be so resentful if the cycle got cancelled and GENNET got 600EUR of our money without having done anything.
5. Opening hours
Reprofit – seven days a week.
GENNET – Monday to Saturday, with limited service on the Saturday. As a result, we’re having a four-day transfer rather than a five-day one (if we’re lucky enough!). This is quite annoying, as most clinics avoid four-day transfers. However, from what I’ve read, embryologists have a pretty good idea of embryo quality by then, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
6. Finding out your results
Reprofit – Reprofit’s process is horrible. You have to ring them after 2pm each day (except day two and four) to find out how your embryos are doing. This is torture. The day after egg collection was the worst for us. We waited till 2pm, both besides ourselves with worry, and then found out only one – perhaps two – had fertilised. We then had to wait another two days for a progress report. Ulgggghhh. This is probably fine if you have loads of embryos in the running, but with one, it was the WORST.
GENNET – they email you each morning with a report on your embryos. In fact, today is our day one, and at 08:05, our co-ordinator had already messaged me. Amazing service. (We also found out that 12 out of 13 eggs were mature, and eight of those had fertilised normally, which is a massive relief!) They email every day with a chart, clearly showing how each one is progressing, for example how many cells they are. It’s a brilliant system – I’m thoroughly impressed.
Verdict: 100% GENNET.
7. Email response and language barrier
Reprofit – email responses were really good, from what I remember. My co-ordinator was quick at replying, her English was decent enough, and my consultation at the beginning was with an English-speaking doctor. However, when it came to egg transfer, the language barrier was more pronounced, as it were. I remember the doctor struggling a little to communicate, and I felt frustrated that I couldn’t say what I wanted to as I would an English doctor. There was no waiting list for treatment.
GENNET – email responses have been quick, and the international co-ordinators’ English are really excellent (I was worried about response time, as I’d read on someone’s blog that communication at GENNET was not great. But I haven’t found that at all.) My first consultation with the doctor, however, was a bit strange. It was basically me talking to the co-ordinator, who then translated to the doctor, and vice versa. It was really laborious. However, that’s been the only time. Every other touch point has been smooth sailing from a communication point of view.
So there you have it. The main differences between Reprofit and GENNET, according to me. Seemingly the same on the surface, but not so much when you dig a little deeper. Every single person doing IVF will have a different take on their clinic. These are just my experiences. But if I had to choose one out of the two, it’d be GENNET. I prefer the location, the greater attention to detail and the level of communication.
But will I prefer the results? We’re only on day one, so let’s see how it goes…