B.C. residents are “a minority” when it comes to publicly funded In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in Canada, notes Nicole Nouch, an advocate with the group IV4BC.
IVF is a procedure in which eggs are removed from a woman’s body and fertilized in a lab.
“Then they are put back into the uterus and hopefully it sticks and you get pregnant,” Nouch explained to the Langley Times in February. “It is not a complicated procedure and (it’s) safe for the woman.”
A third of the country has some form of public assistance for treating infertility, a WHO-recognized medical condition that affects 42 per cent of people in B.C.
“That could change soon,” said Nouch, a Maple Ridge resident who co-owns a business in Langley.
The B.C. government currently does not fund the treatment of IVF, which Nouch says is “often the most effective and only treatment option available to couples who suffer from infertility.”
“Due to limited access to infertility treatment services throughout the province and the average out-of-pocket costs of IVF treatments costs as much as $10,000, plus medications, creating one of many barriers to treatment,” she added.
With the annual meeting of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society being held in Vancouver Sept. 13-16, Ontario doctors and patient advocates are discussing Ontario’s publicly funded program one year after its launch, and sharing lessons B.C. can learn to develop a unique “made-in-B.C.” approach to IVF funding.
“We’ve been working on it (the meeting) for the past few months, now, back-and-forth with our Ontario group, as well,” Nouch said. “Because it’s been a year, since the program in Ontario has been implemented, they’re able to share the pros and cons, and what’s working, what’s not. They’ve got stories of people who have successfully become pregnant and had babies with the help of the funding.”
Offering financial supports for IVF funding is much-needed in B.C. according to Nouch, a mom to an 11-week-old daughter.
Before she was pregnant with her daughter, Nouch had struggled for years with infertility.
The challenges she and her husband Greg had, both emotionally and financially, motivated Nouch and co-founder, Juvarya Veltkamp to start a patient advocacy group called IVF4BC, representing women and couples who struggle with infertility.
The local couple spent thousands of dollars trying to start their own family, but to no avail.
And, until a year ago, they were among the one in six B.C. couples suffering from infertility.
Nouch hopes B.C. will someday become the first Western Canadian province to offer IVF funding.
Visit the IFV4BC website at www.ivf4bc.ca.