Fertility care should be more accessible, no matter the distance

Accessing fertility treatments when you live hours from the nearest fertility centre

Undergoing fertility treatment is hard.  It’s hard on your mental and emotional wellbeing; it’s hard on your relationship; it’s hard on your body; and it’s hard on your pocketbook.  When you live hours away from the advanced fertility care you need to become a parent, the journey becomes exponentially harder.  

Fertility care: the good news

In many ways, access to the initial stages of fertility treatment has improved significantly through the advent of virtual appointments. Patients living in more remote areas can now obtain an initial consultation with a fertility specialist within the comfort of your own home, without having to travel long distances.  If you live near a city or town that has access to services for ultrasound and blood work, it is likely your fertility specialist can conduct an initial investigation without the need to visit the clinic.  Many may not have even started their fertility journey had they been forced to travel hours for a medical appointment. Virtual fertility care will also play an important role throughout your journey as our nurses, genetic counsellors, doctors and embryologists can utilize this tool to provide education and support during various phases of your fertility care. 

How often will I need to travel to Markham Fertility Centre once I start treatment? 

Your journey through fertility treatments can take many forms depending on the problem we are trying to solve.  Also, the length of your journey to become a parent and the frequency of visits to the clinic will also vary.  This can be frustrating and your team at Markham Fertility Centre recognizes the added strain of having to travel to receive your fertility care and will do what it can to minimize your travel and shorten your journey.   

Fertility care: treatments

Intrauterine insemination (IUI):  IUI is a relatively low intervention fertility treatment where partner or donor sperm is prepared by our lab and placed into your uterus at the optimal time to achieve pregnancy. Most of the preparation leading up to an IUI can be managed through a virtual consultation with your nurse or physician.  Once your cycle starts, you may need to visit Markham Fertility 1 to 4 times for monitoring (blood and ultrasound) over a period of 14 days; and 1 day for the sperm preparation and insemination. If you are using partner sperm, the sperm provider must be on site on the day of the procedure. It is also possible to freeze a sample in advance if your partner cannot attend on the day of insemination, but we fresh sperm is preferable.

Total visits to clinic during treatment: 2 to 3

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):  Patients undergoing IVF will be able to complete all teaching online with our nurse, including medications teaching. This will save travel time.  Like IUI, you will need to travel to the clinic 3 to 4 time to do your blood and ultrasound monitoring over a 12–14-day period, including the egg retrieval and sperm preparation.An embryo transfer may proceed 5 days after the egg retrieval or at a future date if embryos were frozen. 

We have prepared virtual education sessions and webinars so that you can speak to nursing, embryologists, and genetic counsellors without leaving the comfort of your home.

Total visits to clinic during treatment: 4 to 5

Frozen Embryo Transfers: Patients should expect to visit a clinic 1 to 3 times over a 12-day period including 1 day for the procedure.

Total visits to clinic during treatment: 2 to 3

  • Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, travel is the last thing you want to do. Like IVF patients, we will do what we can to minimize the need for travel. For sperm preservation only one visit is needed. For egg freezing, you will need 3-4 visits including the day of the egg retrieval. 

Is it possible to receive cycle monitoring in my hometown?

If services are available in your hometown or nearby, we will arrange for monitoring to be done locally.  Unfortunately, this is not always easy, and some places are not equipped to provide monitoring.  We are working on a resource for patients that identifies places where they can go to obtain blood work and ultrasound monitoring.  

A patient advocates for accessible fertility care

CBC The National news story about the harsh reality of trying to access IVF in Canada.

Where can I find financial support to help cover the additional costs of travel?

The Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) This program offers financial assistance to Northern Ontario residents who need to travel long-distances for specialized medical services or procedures at a ministry-funded health care facility. Grants are based on the distance you need to travel to reach the nearest medical specialist or ministry-funded health care facility that can provide the required health care services without delay.  Submit your NHTG application to the Ministry of Health within 12 months of the date of treatment.  For eligible patients, NHTG covers:

  • Travel costs at a specified rate per km travelled by car, rail, bus, or air above 100km. 
  • Accommodation cost up to certain limits per night up.

For more information, visit Northern Health Travel Grant Program.  If your claim is denied, we recommend contacting @ivf4on on Instagram or info@conceivabledreams.org and they will help facilitate the appeal.

While HopeAir does not currently fund fertility patients, we are actively working with them to include fertility patients among those that they support.  HopeAir is a non-profit organization funded and supported by donors and volunteers therefore their ability to help may be limited, but it is worth contacting them to learn more.  

HopeAir provides free flights and helps with transportation between the airport and their medical appointments. They also assist with accommodations where possible. 

Fertility care and humm financing

humm fertility financing and Markham Fertility Centre support fertility care access

To help with the financial aspects of fertility care, Markham Fertility Centre has partnered with humm to offer a more competitive and user-friendly platform to finance their treatment.  Humm’s rates and terms are superior to other financing companies that focus on medical care. The online application is quick and easy. Do not hesitate to contact us.

Accommodations

 Finding a hotel close by the clinic can be a challenge o some places. We have organized accommodations for Markham Fertility patients at the Hilton Markham Suites on Highway 7 and Warden about 10 km from the clinic. Patients receive a preferred rate and have access to single rooms and kitchen suites for longer stays.  The Hilton Suites is an excellent hotel and includes free parking for our patients, access to a very good gym, pool, and other facilities so that you can relax while in Markham.  

Other support for you

We want to eliminate barriers for your fertility care, and we will do what we can to make it easier.   We are working on more ideas to make your experience easier.  Do not hesitate to voice your needs and we will endeavour to make it happen.

Contact us at info@markhamfertility.com with your questions and/or feedback.