What is FertiGenève?

FertiGenève is a joint venture between leading Swiss partners in the field of assisted reproductive technology (ART), from both the public and private sectors. They have joined forces to create a centre of clinical expertise to help couples with fertility issues and to provide them with the best possible care as they try to conceive.

This partnership brings together various fertility experts, gynaecologists and urologists, and a laboratory equipped with the most advanced assisted reproductive technology (ART) at their disposal.

Find out more: About

Why should I choose FertiGenève to help me start a family?

As a centre of clinical expertise based on a partnership between independent doctors, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), Clinique Générale-Beaulieu and Fertas, FertiGenève offers not only all the benefits of private medicine, such as personalized care and a flexible approach to patients, but also the scientific rigour and innovation of academic medicine. The laboratory is led by embryologists who hold a European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) qualification and is equipped with cutting-edge technologies to optimize embryo development and a state-of-the-art security system. It is ISO accredited.

Find out more: About
How do I get help from FertiGenève?

Firstly, contact one of the specialist doctors at the FertiGenève Centre of Clinical Expertise. The gynaecologist you have chosen will support you throughout your journey to ensure you receive personalized care as you seek to start your family.

Find out more: Journey

We are trying to have a child. How long should we wait before requesting a consultation?
An assessment is recommended if you have not become pregnant after a year of unprotected sexual intercourse. If you are over 35 years of age, you should request a consultation after six months as natural fertility and the treatment success rate decline with age.
What happens at the first consultation?

It is important for both partners to attend this first appointment. The doctor you have chosen from the FertiGenève list will ask both of you questions about your general health and any factors that might be contributing to your infertility (frequency of intercourse, sexual difficulties, the regularity of your menstrual cycle, sexually transmitted infections, etc.) The doctor will also familiarize himself or herself with any tests that may already have been conducted by your general practitioner and will suggest additional targeted examinations. A second appointment will be scheduled, during which the doctor will explain the results of your examinations and offer you the most appropriate course of treatment.

If necessary, your case will be discussed at a multidisciplinary meeting involving a range of FertiGenève specialists.

Find out more: Journey

How much does in vitro fertilization (IVF) cost?
IVF costs between CHF 6,000 and 7,500 (excluding medication), regardless of whether the couple is treated at HUG or by a private practitioner. 
Is in vitro fertilization covered by health insurance?
IVF is not covered by compulsory health insurance (LAMal). All the costs incurred – medication, ultrasound scans, egg harvesting, fertilization, embryo culture, etc. – are payable by the couple. Some international insurance schemes, such as UNSMIS or CIGNA, provide full or partial coverage of IVF. 
Is FertiGenève open to same-sex couples?
Switzerland allows married couples to access sperm donation. Female married couples have been entitled to use sperm donation since 1 July 2022, following the vote on 26 September 2021, which allowed same-sex couples to marry. Two treatments are possible: intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization with donor sperm. In legal terms, the wife of the biological mother will be automatically recognized as the child’s second mother. The doctors at FertiGenève are on hand to provide optimal support to female married couples who wish to have a child.
Which technologies are available at FertiGenève?

The Fertas Laboratory is FertiGenève’s technical facility. Fertas conducts all the male fertility tests prescribed by the FertiGenève doctor. With regard to treatment, it is responsible for preparing sperm for insemination, in vitro fertilization, fertility preservation and embryo selection for preimplantation genetic testing. The Fertas Laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art, innovative solutions, such as the EmbryoScope+. This cutting-edge incubator has an integrated microscope and video camera to monitor the development of the embryo without exposing it to light or the ambient temperature. The EmbryoScope+ creates optimal culture conditions and captures dynamic information. It is invaluable for identifying the embryos that are most likely to result in a pregnancy. 

As part of its ongoing quality improvement process, Fertas has recently introduced RI-Witness, a traceability system that monitors every stage in the handling of gametes and embryos in the laboratory, and links them to their owner through an electronic chip.

Find out more: Technology

Infertility and its causes

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected sexual intercourse. Some 10 to 15% of couples in Switzerland face this problem.

Infertility can be a male as well as a female issue: around 30% of cases affecting a couple are attributable to the female, and 30% to the male. In the final third, infertility is attributable to both partners or is unexplained (up to 20% of cases).

This is why it is important for tests to be offered to both partners in an attempt to identify the cause of the problem and determine the most appropriate treatment.

What are the causes of female infertility?

Female infertility can have several causes:

  • Ovulation problems: around a third of infertile women have an ovulation problem. This manifests in irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhea) or no periods whatsoever (amenorrhea). In this case, the production of a fertilizable egg is rare or non-existent and it is consequently impossible to become pregnant. Ovulation problems are the consequence of hormone disorders of varying origin, including polycystic ovary syndrome, physical stress (due to eating disorders or excessive physical exercise) or mental health issues, thyroid issues, obesity, etc.
  • Damaged or blocked tubes: the fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus and are therefore an essential reproductive organ. In most cases, fallopian tube lesions are the result of a sexually transmitted infection but they are also linked to endometriosis or may be caused by surgery.
  • Uterine conditions: uterine malformations, adhesions (scar tissue) or uterine fibroids can cause embryo implantation failure, thereby reducing the chances of pregnancy.
  • Endometriosis: a frequent gynaecological condition in which endometrial cells (the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus that is shed during menstruation) grow outside the uterus. Endometriosis can cause ovarian cysts and adhesions that potentially prevent the egg from entering the fallopian tube.
  • Age: in today’s society, women are waiting increasingly longer before they try for a first pregnancy. This is a significant contributory factor for increased infertility, since the chances of pregnancy decrease with age.
What are the causes of male infertility?
The most common cause of male infertility is poor quality sperm. The causes of this poor quality are a matter of debate, with tobacco use, alcohol consumption, obesity, stress and environmental factors, among others, potentially to blame. More rarely, there are specific problems such as inflammation or infection of the testicles or excretory ducts, hormonal imbalances, genetic disease, etc.
How do you identify the cause of female infertility?
The investigation starts with an endovaginal ultrasound, which can detect anomalies in the uterus and ovaries, and an evaluation of ovarian function (ovarian reserve and ovulation). A blood sample is also taken for hormone testing. A contrast medium is injected during the ultrasound (which is then known as a HyCoSy test) or during a radiological examination (hysterography) to detect a potential fallopian tube blockage. If any anomalies are found, a more detailed endoscopic evaluation (laparoscopy or hysteroscopy) and surgical treatment may be necessary.
How do you identify the cause of male infertility?

A semen analysis or spermogram is the baseline test. This involves examining the density, motility and shape of the sperm. If the result is abnormal, other examinations, such as a hormonal assessment and identification of any infections, will be performed. If the sperm quality is very poor, an assessment by a urologist andrologist will be offered. If there are no or very few sperms, a genetic analysis and potentially a testicular exploration will be recommended. If sperms are found at this point, a sample can be collected and frozen for assisted reproductive technology.

How does age affect fertility?
Fertility declines with age in both men and women, but the decline is more marked in women. All of a woman’s egg cells are present in her ovaries even before she is born. There is a decline in the quantity as well as the quality of eggs over time, leading to a gradual increase in the risk of miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities in the future child, and infertility. As a result, a woman should ideally have children between the age of 20 and her early 30s. The male reproductive system produces sperm cells throughout a man’s life. However, like women, men are subject to biological ageing and their fertility declines significantly over time, especially after the age of 40. 
What can I do to protect my fertility?

Several factors should be considered for fertility protection:

  • Age: women’s fertility is at its peak between 20 and 30 years of age, after which it declines in line with the fall in the number and quality of egg cells. This phenomenon is genetically programmed and irreversible.
  • Weight: infertility is more common in people who are either obese or underweight.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: some infections, such as chlamydia, can pass unnoticed but cause irreversible damage to the fallopian tubes. Using protection is recommended to limit the risk.
  • Tobacco: tobacco impacts the cardiovascular system and lungs, as well as affecting female and male fertility. Women who smoke enter the menopause on average one to two years earlier than non-smokers. In men, tobacco reduces the quality of sperm cells and the chances of success with assisted reproductive technology. Other substances, such as cannabis, also reduce fertility.

Infertility treatments

Which infertility treatments are authorized in Switzerland?

The majority of infertility treatments are authorized in Switzerland. This includes ovulation induction treatments, intrauterine insemination with the husband’s sperm and in vitro fertilization. The amendment to the Federal Act on Medically Assisted Reproduction (LPMA), which was implemented in 2017, helped to optimize the chances of pregnancy by allowing a longer culture time and embryo freezing, as well as preimplantation genetic testing.

Insemination with donor sperm is also authorized for married couples. Female married couples have been entitled to use sperm donation since 1 July 2022, following the vote on 26 September 2021, which allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Which assisted reproductive technologies are not available in Switzerland?
Sperm donation for single women, egg (cell) donation and surrogacy are prohibited by the LPMA.
What is the treatment success rate?

Where infertility is due to an isolated ovulation issue, ovulation induction treatments produce excellent results, with a pregnancy rate of 60 to 90% after six cycles. For ovarian stimulation combined with intrauterine insemination, which is indicated when infertility is unexplained or in the case of minor issues, the pregnancy rate is 10 to 15% per cycle. 

The cumulative rate after three to four cycles is 35%. For in vitro fertilization, the pregnancy rate (positive test) per embryo transfer is 35% on average. Success is largely dependent on the woman’s age: the pregnancy rate per transfer is 50% at 30 years of age, 37% at 35 years of age of 35 and 24% at 40 years of age.

Up-to-date pregnancy rates at Swiss IVF centres can be found on the FIVNAT register. These are published annually by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office and can be viewed on the Confederation website at 
Is sperm donation possible in Switzerland?

Sperm donation is allowed for married couples. In addition to heterosexual couples, female married couples have been entitled to use sperm donation since 1 July 2022.

What is assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
Assisted reproductive technology is defined as all infertility treatments that require the preparation of gametes (egg and/or sperm cells) in a laboratory i.e. intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization.
What is in vitro fertilization (IVF)?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) was introduced in 1978 and is the most effective assisted reproductive technology. In Switzerland, one child in 40 is currently born following IVF treatment. With IVF, the fertilization process is completed outside the human body by combining eggs and sperm cells in the laboratory. Once fertilized, the eggs divide and become embryos. Embryo development is observed in the laboratory for a few days; in most cases, the embryo is transferred into the uterus, where implantation and pregnancy may occur.

Find out more: In vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

What are the risks of IVF?

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
OHSS is the consequence of an exaggerated response to the gonadotropins used for ovarian stimulation. The ovaries are enlarged with multiple follicles, which produce a large quantity of oestrogen. Increased permeability of the blood vessels causes fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity. OHSS is accompanied by a feeling of discomfort, nausea and abdominal swelling. Mild OHSS resolves rapidly at the end of treatment and has no further consequences. It is more severe in 1 to 5% of cases. It then requires the preventive administration of anticoagulants as it increases the formation of blood clots in the veins (thrombosis), and in some cases necessitates hospitalization for hydration and monitoring. Current stimulation protocols and the latest IVF strategies have significantly reduced the risk of OHSS.

Complications of egg retrieval
Although it is a minor surgical procedure, inserting a needle into the abdomen can cause an infection or internal bleeding. Fortunately, however, these complications are rare (0.01 to 0.1% of cases).

Multiple pregnancy
This represents an increased risk for the mother and future children, including premature childbirth, prolonged bed rest, hospitalization, Caesarean section, etc. The implementation of the LPMA amendment in 2017 helped to significantly reduce the risk of multiple pregnancy without reducing the pregnancy rate. The risk fell from 15.6% in 2016 to 4.3% in 2020, while the childbirth rate per patient increased from 31 to 34%.

What are the success rates for in vitro fertilization?

The pregnancy rate (positive test) in Switzerland is 35% on average, across all ages. The pregnancy rate per embryo transfer is 50% at 30 years of age, 37% at 35 years of age and 24% at 40 years of age.

(FIVNAT register, available on the Confederation website at www.bfs.admin.ch).
Is in vitro fertilization the only treatment for infertility?

IVF was developed to produce a pregnancy in women whose fallopian tubes were damaged or missing. Nowadays, it is used to treat various causes of infertility such as endometriosis, male infertility, unexplained infertility, etc. In accordance with Swiss federal law (LPMA), IVF is only offered when simpler treatments, such as ovarian stimulation, intrauterine insemination or an attempted surgical correction are inappropriate or have already failed.

Find out more: Treatments

What is intrauterine insemination?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves introducing sperm directly into the uterus. IUI is a simple, painless procedure that only takes a few minutes. It is generally combined with ovarian stimulation, which is intended to produce two available eggs rather than just one. This approach increases the chances of pregnancy per cycle, but also the risk of a multiple pregnancy.
What is preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) and when is it indicated?

Preimplantation genetic tests involve taking cells from an embryo produced by in vitro fertilization to analyze their genetic material. This enables the selection of the embryo to be transferred to the uterus. The embryos are cryopreserved pending the results of the genetic tests.

There are three situations in which PGT is indicated:

  • Couples who carry a serious genetic disease that is likely to be passed on to their child (PGT-M)
  • Couples where one of the partners has a chromosomal rearrangement. These exchanges of genetic material between two chromosomes result in more frequent chromosomal imbalances in the embryo, with an increased risk of miscarriage or malformation (PGT-SR)
  • Women over the age of 38, who have had several unsuccessful treatments. This test is used to determine the number of chromosomes in the embryo, given that older women produce more embryos with chromosomal anomalies and that these embryos have very little or no chance of developing into a baby (PGT-A). This is the most frequent indication.
How long can gametes and embryos be stored for?
The LPMA allows gametes and embryos to be stored for five years. Their owner or the couple can request a five-year extension, up to a maximum of 10 years. This limit does not apply to people who have frozen their gametes before a treatment such as chemotherapy, which may leave them infertile.

Preserving fertility through freezing

Is it possible to store embryos using cryopreservation?

The Fertas Laboratory in Geneva, a member of the FertiGenève Centre of Clinical Expertise, is equipped to cryopreserve embryos using a process called vitrification. Embryos that are preserved in this way can subsequently be transferred into the uterus, without the need to repeat the egg retrieval and fertilization stages.

Find out more: Freezing

Is it possible to store eggs using cryopreservation?

Egg freezing using vitrification is intended for women who need to undergo a complex treatment such as chemotherapy, which is likely to affect their fertility, as well as for healthy women who simply want to defer their pregnancy.

Find out more: Freezing

Can sperm be frozen?

Men, too, have long frozen their sperm for later use, particularly if they are undergoing treatment that could affect their fertility. In some cases, sperm freezing can simplify the technical aspects of IVF.

Find out more: Freezing