Practical information prior to starting ART treatment

Visiting a fertility centre can be an overwhelming experience. All the most important data are therefore always available for your consultation, either on paper or in your digital file. Here are a few practical matters to take into account.

First things first: creating your patient record
As a patient of Brussels IVF, you automatically become a patient of UZ Brussel. You must therefore register with the employee at the hospital counter when you visit us for your first appointment.
When you first visit Brussels IVF, we create a patient file or patient record for you, based on your identity details and with a photograph.

! If you are a couple embarking on a fertility journey together, both partners must register the first time you visit Brussels IVF. This is necessary for our conclusive identity check system.

  • Are you a Belgian patient? Please bring your identity card.
  • Foreign patients must provide their official passport.

Practical information: five steps

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Your patient record and identity check

You can create your patient record or register for a procedure:

  • At the registration counter of the Children's Hospital (UZ Brussel, entrance F, route 990)
    Open: Mon - Fri 6.45 a.m. – 6 p.m. (5.30 p.m. on Fridays)
    Closed: weekends and public holidays
  • At the general registration counter at the main entrance of UZ Brussels (UZ Brussel, entrance A, route 151)
    Open: Mon - Fri after 6 p.m. / Weekends and public holidays from 7 a.m.

Even if you already have a patient record at UZ Brussel, you will have to re-register for each appointment. This can usually also be done at an electronic kiosk.
If you are a couple undergoing treatment, your patient record will be linked to your partner’s. It is therefore important to inform us of changes in your relationship (marriage, name change, break-up,...).
The medical data linked to your treatment can be consulted by all Brussels IVF employees who are involved in your pathway. The file can be consulted for up to two years after your treatment for legally required reporting and follow-up.

In case of a pathway during which your oocytes or sperm are treated in our laboratories (insemination, IVF, or ICSI), you will also receive an IVF witness badge from us. This badge is your Brussels IVF identity card. It is used at every stage to identify you as the prospective parent(s) and your bodily material. The additional control is based on a Radio Frequency Identity (RFID) tag that is affixed to all straws and trays in which your reproductive bodily material is handled. An incorrect combination of oocytes and sperm cells thus automatically triggers an alarm in the lab.

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Before starting your treatment

To start your treatment, your patient record at UZ Brussel must be correctly created and, if applicable, linked to your partner’s patient record.

  • By law, we must have valid blood test results before we can treat your genetic material (oocytes and/or sperm) in our laboratories. We cannot start treatment without recent serology testing (for hepatitis B (HBsAg, HBsAb, HBcAb), hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV).
  • If medication is required for your treatment, a digital prescription will be issued which you can pick up from your pharmacy with your electronic identity card (Belgian patients only). If the medication is reimbursed as part of your ART treatment, you must collect if from the centre where you are being treated, meaning from the IVF medication counter at UZ Brussel (route 985). Other medication must be collected from your local pharmacy using the prescription on your eID card. Your Brussels IVF care provider will give you instructions about this.
  • Request for reimbursement: If you are affiliated with a Belgian mutual health insurance fund and you are under 43 years of age, a large part of your treatment will be reimbursed. Your mutual health insurance fund reimburses both the laboratory cost of your IVF treatment and most of the stimulation medication for up to six treatment cycles.
    Our centre submits the request for reimbursement to the mutual health insurance fund. The mutual health insurance fund issues a consent form, which is either sent to us directly or to you.
    In the latter case, you must provide the consent form to us no later than on the day of the oocyte retrieval or insemination.
    If you already underwent treatment at another centre for which your mutual health insurance fund has reimbursed you, you must request the consent form on file from this centre when changing centres.
  • Depending on your situation, an appointment will be scheduled for you with a fertility doctor with specific expertise on this. He or she will be your consulting or attending physician. It is crucial that you feel at ease with this doctor. Do not hesitate to request a new appointment or second opinion within Brussels IVF if you still have questions or uncertainties.
    During your treatment you will meet with different doctors and care providers at various stages (for blood tests, examinations, punctures...). To guarantee a personal follow-up, your physician follows up on your file and is your first point of contact during (follow-up) consultations to discuss results and determine further treatment. We have a large team. This also means that we discuss results with each other and request a second opinion in-house if your case stands to benefit from this.

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Belgian regulations

The Belgian regulator imposes several rules and conditions for Assisted Reproductive Technologies that apply to fertility centres and prospective parents/patients.

  1. Reimbursement:
    Patients who are covered under the Belgian mutual health insurance system can claim reimbursement up to six times, both for artificial insemination and IVF/ICSI.
    This only applies if the woman undergoing treatment is under 43 years of age. Your age on the day of oocyte insemination will be taken into account for this.
    This means you are not eligible for artificial insemination or oocyte retrieval with immediate fertilisation in the lab from the day of your 43rd birthday.
  2. Age for treatment:
    A legal age limit was set for fertility treatment. You are eligible for embryo transfer (possibly with thawed embryos) until your 47th birthday (the day before you turn 48). This rule applies to all women undergoing ART treatment, including non-reimbursed attempts. Our centre applies strict age limits within the legal boundaries because treatment success rates are strongly linked to age.
  3. Number of embryos:
    Under the law, the number of embryos that can be transferred per IVF/ICSI cycle is limited to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancy. A multiple pregnancy is associated with increased risks for both the mother and babies. In practice, our centre will always recommend a single embryo transfer for an optimum outcome.
  4. Serology of the prospective parent(s):
    The Belgian regulator requires fertility centres to have recent blood results from the prospective parents when their bodily material (oocytes, sperm...) is treated at the centre. You will therefore be required to undergo a blood test before your treatment and may be asked to repeat this at a later stage of your journey if necessary.

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During treatment: Instructions and monitoring

Monitoring:: During treatment, your menstrual cycle will be closely monitored. If you are advised to take medication, we also monitor how your body reacts to it. This requires regular blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds of your ovaries. These can be scheduled at Brussels IVF.
If you find the commute to Brussels IVF too difficult, you can also opt to have this done externally, closer to home. In that case, you must request an instruction sheet for your external healthcare professional during the appointment with the counsellor.
Bloodwork can be done by your GP, a home care nurse, or an external lab. Your own gynaecologist can take care of the ultrasound in some cases.
Please note that the results must be submitted to our Daily Monitoring (DM) team by 1 p.m.. That way, they can be discussed with your physician and you can get appropriate instructions in time.
Attention!<s/trong> Please note that we charge an administrative fee for the processing of external results.

Do you need additional medication during your treatment? Inform a member of our Daily Monitoring (DM) team or an employee at the counter when you come in for a blood test. Brussels IVF will issue a new prescription. If the medication falls under the conditions for reimbursement, you will have to collect it from the centre where you are undergoing treatment.

Based on your results, you will receive instructions directly by phone from the DM team, in the Robin app of Brussels IVF, or through the patient portal of UZ Brussel. At the start of your treatment, you record your preferences for communication by filling out an informed consent form during the appointment with a counsellor.

Delivering a sperm sample: If you need to give a sperm sample as part of your treatment, the DM will schedule an appointment for you. The date will depend on the date on the insemination or oocyte retrieval from the woman. The appointment will be linked to your partner’s appointment.

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Follow-up of your pregnancy and feedback

If treatment is successful, Brussels IVF will follow up your pregnancy until about 7 weeks of pregnancy (5 weeks after embryo transfer) as your pregnancy progresses. Afterwards, your own gynaecologist or GP will monitor your pregnancy.

Obviously, we will enquire about the evolution of your pregnancy and even keep in touch until after your baby is born.
You will receive a questionnaire from us (sent by followupbrusselsivf@uzbrussel.be) shortly after the anticipated delivery date.
This survey is motivated by a personal commitment: we are interested to know whether the treatment was successful and how you are doing. At the same time, it is also part of our ongoing scientific research into pregnancies and children born from fertility treatment.
Moreover, we are also legally required to collect statistical data on (the health of) our patients and children born after ART treatment. Your file can therefore be consulted for up to 2 years after your treatment.

In addition, we also want to know how satisfied you are about our service. We strive to continually improve our services through regular satisfaction surveys (via feedbackbrusselsivf@uzbrussel.be).
Our quality assurance manager also organises additional focus groups with (former) patients for more detailed information about the survey results. We therefore thank you for completing these questionnaires which are used to further optimise our services and the care provided to prospective parents.

Frequently asked practical questions

Age limits for treatment

Age affects a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, which is why our centre applies age limits for various treatments.

Number of embryos for transfer as part of IVF/ICSI treatment

(*) In exceptional cases, the transfer of two embryos is allowed – depending on their quality.

At Brussels IVF, we aim for 1 healthy child and an optimal pregnancy per treatment. In practice, however, we may deviate from this rule within the statutory maximum. The number of embryos to be transferred is always considered depending on your individual case and in consultation with your consulting doctor.

An embryo transfer is possible until your 47th birthday (the day before you turn 48). This is the legal maximum age in Belgium.

Is assited reproductive medicine eligible for reimbursement?

Patients who fall under the Belgian mutual health insurance system will be reimbursed for the cost of their ART treatment for up to 6 attempts under certain conditions. As a patient, you only pay co-payments for consultations and interventions. This reimbursement is also linked to a maximum age limit.

What is the legal age limit for reimbursement in Belgium?

The age limit to benefit from reimbursement of laboratory costs and stimulation medication is 43 years.

This means that Belgian mutual health insurance intervenes in these treatment costs if the fertilisation of the oocytes (via artificial insemination or in the lab via IVF or ICSI) takes place befóre your 43rd birthday.

Patients who fall under the Belgian mutual health insurance system will be reimbursed for the cost of their ART treatment for up to 6 attempts under certain conditions.

What are the procedures and costs associated with my ART treatment?

You will receive all information on the cost of your ART treatment during the consult with your counsellor. If needed, you can request more details from our Contact Centre.

  • Medical care as part of your ART treatment is provided on an outpatient basis unless hospitalisation is necessary.
  • All prices mentioned in financial documents are always for one ART treatment.
  • Medication is never included in the price of treatment unless explicitly stated otherwise. This is generally reimbursed to Belgian patients under the conditions of their mutual health insurance.
  • If several treatments are combined, the corresponding amounts for these treatments must be added up.

! Additional examinations and procedures (hysteroscopy, hyphosy…) are billed separately.
If, in the course of your treatment, an adjustment or additional procedure is necessary (e.g., surgical procedure if no sperm detected in the delivered sample), this will require a change to your financial agreement. The cost of this additional procedure (and any anaesthesia) will be billed to you.

What are the conditions for reimbursement by the mutual health insurance fund?

1) Reimbursement of up to six ART cycles

  •  6 cycles of timed intercourse (using stimulation medication)
  • 6 cycles of artificial insemination (using stimulation medication)
  • and 6 cycli with IVF or ICSI

If you already underwent ART treatment in another centre, this will count towards these 6 cycles. Even for a subsequent child, the counter is not reset to zero again.

Stimulation medication and fertilisation in the lab are covered by this lump sum for ART treatment.

“Cycles” are: any stimulation pathway with oocyte retrieval (or insemination). A transfer of a thawed embryo (FET) does not count as a ‘cycle’. These are considered as additional opportunities within one reimbursed cycle.
If fertilisation has taken place (either through IUI or IVF/ICSI in the lab) this counts as a ‘cycle’.  If no oocytes were detected, the ART attempt does not count towards the number of reimbursed cycles.

2) The reimbursement applies to women up to 42 years of age. This refers to their age on the day the oocytes were fertilised. This means you are not eligible for artificial insemination or oocyte retrieval with immediate fertilisation in the lab from the day of your 43rd birthday.

3) The request for reimbursement must be approved before starting treatment. You do not have to advance the cost of medication and fertilisation in the lab yourself. Payment is arranged directly with your mutual health insurance fund after approval.

What if I am not eligible for reimbursement by a Belgian mutual health insurance fund?

You can request full information on the cost of your ART treatment from our Contact Centre (ivf_fin@uzbrussel.be) or during the meeting with your counsellor.

The prescribed medication must be paid for immediately on collection from the medication counter.
For IVF/ICSI treatment, an advance payment must be made prior to oocyte retrieval. If you live abroad, you must pay the full cost in advance.

Additional private health insurance rarely covers ART-related expenses. Some companies do, but even then this often depends on the terms and conditions in the specific policy. The only person who can provide a definitive answer is your insurance broker.
In principle, ART treatment is always on an outpatient basis. There usually is no need for hospitalisation. This also explains why the cost for ART is not usually covered by your private hospitalisation insurance.

Does the reimbursement also apply if I want to have a second or third child?

In Belgium, reimbursement covers six treatment cycles (six cycles of timed intercourse with stimulation medication, six cycles of insemination with stimulation medication, and six IVF/ICSI cycles) regardless of the number of children you would have liked to have had. In some neighbouring countries, the counter is reset to zero after a first child. This is not the case in Belgium where women are entitled to reimbursement for up to six attempts.

Is the use donor material reimbursed?

The use of donor material is never reimbursed. So this is an additional cost that you must take into account. You will be informed about this in advance if this is part of your treatment.

How is the start of a treatment cycle formally confirmed?

Before the start of your treatment, you must give your consent for your treatment by signing informed consent forms and contracts.
If you are undergoing treatment as a couple, you must both sign for consent.

With this informed consent, you make decisions about various aspects of your treatment, such as:

  • what happens to any embryos you no longer wish to use
  • your cooperation in scientific studies
  • the use of donor material

When can I start my treatment?

Your start date is determined in consultation with Brussels IVF. Your counsellor will inform you when you can start during the intake for your first attempt.

For ovulation induction and insemination, you can often start during the menstrual cycle following your appointment with the counsellor.

We always set a start date for IVF/ICSI/IVM.
We do this to avoid having too many patients starting at the same time, which in turn causes problems for our lab. This is our way of guaranteeing treatment in the most optimal conditions to all patients.

What is an IVF witness badge?

You will receive an IVF Witness badge from the midwife before your first artificial insemination or oocyte retrieval. This is a white badge with your details (and your partner’s details).

It is also the electronic identity card you will use at our centre. We request this every time we start working with your bodily material. It is used throughout the entire fertility treatment process to ensure the correct and conclusive identification of our patients and their individual samples.

You must bring this card with you for every procedure.

If you lose this card, you will be billed €20 for a replacement.

Do I have to register every time I visit the hospital for an appointment?

Before going to your consultation or procedure, you must always register at UZ Brussel. This can usually be done at the electronic kiosk (entrance to the Children’s Hospital or main entrance of UZ Brussel).

If you need to get a bracelet, however, you need to register with the employee at the counter (e.g., providing a sample, insemination, oocyte retrieval, transfer, surgery…). You must then follow the instructions on your registration form to get to the place of your appointment.

Can I get a copy of my patient record?

Brussels IVF keeps detailed records of all examinations and treatments in your personal patient record. To receive a copy of this, send an e-mail to info@brusselsivf.be.

In most cases, you have access to your test results, such as bloodwork, through the e-health health platform.

How do I use the Robin app?

Instead of receiving instructions by phone, you can opt to receive them through a secure mobile application that is linked to your identity card and your patient record at Brussels IVF. You must indicate for each instruction whether it was clear and whether you understood it. If not, the DM team will call you. You can also use the app to review instructions, look up basic information about your treatment, and consult frequently asked questions.

Read more over the mobile application by Brussels IVF.

Patient portal of UZ Brussel
Digital information about your treatment and embryology

UZ Brussel has portals to exchange data with its patients securely and electronically. We use the Brussels IVF module to provide detailed information during your treatment and give you medical instructions as efficiently as possible.

The patient portal also provides embryological information to patients undergoing IVF, ICSI, or PGT treatment. Between oocyte retrieval and the embryo transfer, you will receive information on the number of fertilised oocytes, the quality of the embryos, and the number of embryos for transfer. If you opt for information through the portal, you will not receive any calls from a member of Daily Monitoring team (DM).

Visit the UZ Brussel patient portal.

How does the oocyte retrieval process work?

In Brussels IVF, oocyte retrieval is an outpatient procedure that is performed under local anaesthesia. Full anaesthesia is also an option, for medical or personal reasons. This must be decided in advance, in consultation with your physician. This should always be arranged before the start of your treatment.

Do I have to come to UZ Brussel for every blood test and ultrasound during the follow-up of my treatment?

Only the first blood test of your planned treatment must be done at Brussels IVF for practical and administrative reasons. We usually combine this with the collection of your medication. Exception are made for patients who live abroad.

Once your treatment has started, some of the examinations (blood tests, ultrasound) can be done closer to home, if you wish. The results should always reach us no later than 1 p.m. so they can be processed correctly and we can provide you with timely instructions. Please note: we charge an additional administrative fee for processing external results.

How do I give a sperm sample?

In our day care unit, we have separate, discrete rooms where you can give a sample through masturbation.
Each of these rooms has a bed, sink, and toilet. A television with relevant channels and Wi-Fi are also available.

It is important that you collect the entire ejaculate. You must inform us if you are unable to do this as this may affect the outcome of the lab test or treatment.

What is a good sperm sample?

The quality of a sperm sample is determined by several factors. The volume should be at least 1.4 ml with a concentration of 14 million sperm per millilitre.

Motility, the number of normal forms, and viability are also important. These should be >30%, >4% and more than >58% respectively to qualify as good quality.

Spermakwaliteit EN