Fertility Tourism: Treatment Cost, Benefits & Disadvantages Fertility Tourism: Treatment Cost, Benefits & Disadvantages
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What is Fertility Tourism?

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What is Fertility Tourism?

Fertility tourism is a global phenomenon when people temporarily leave for another country to conceive a child. It helps couples who cannot have their children due to infertility. The stress of infertility is inevitable and can lead to depression and toxic relationships. Medical tourism offers the best and most successful treatment in this situation. It includes reproductive education or fertility treatments.

What percentage of the population is infertile?

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of reproductive age couples (15–49 years) suffer from infertility. About 9% of women aged 20–44 years cannot conceive a child for at least 12 months. According to various estimates, in 20–30% of cases, the problem is in men, in 20–35% in women, in 25–40% in both. Additional difficulties arise from the increase in the average age of women at childbirth in developed countries.

What techniques used to conceive a child?

Let’s start with the definitions. The term “assisted reproductive technologies” (ART) combines several methods. 

IVF – in vitro fertilization: the egg is placed in an environment with good quality sperm for fertilization and subsequent transfer of the embryo (embryo) into the uterus. There are options here:

  • the embryo is injected into the right woman from whom the egg was taken
  • to another woman, depending on who will be the social mother, either surrogacy (the patient’s fertilized egg is implanted with another woman) or egg donation (the patient herself bears a pregnancy, but IVF uses an egg taken from another woman)
  • embryos can be implanted into the uterus after a few days or frozen for several months or even years (you can freeze sperm and eggs separately)

When the quality of the sperm is low, for example, their mobility is poor, sperm is injected into the egg. The method is called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection. If there are no sperm in the ejaculated semen, testicular sperm aspiration helps extract sperm from a man’s testicles using a biopsy. 

Finally, artificial insemination (AI) is simply the introduction of sperm into a female’s cervix or uterine cavity to achieve a pregnancy through in vivo fertilization.

Fertility tourism statistics

More than 5 million children worldwide have already been born with the help of various reproductive technologies. 

About 1.5 million ART cycles occur annually, and approximately 350,000 babies are born. An analysis of the data for 2009 showed that the average frequency of births of healthy children per one attempt of ART in the world was 19.5% and the cumulative percentage of success, taking into account subsequent cryo-embryos infusions, was 25.7%.

In Europe, about 55% of all registered ART treatment cycles are performed, including numerous preliminary analyzes and studies, the procedure itself, and follow-up. In 2011 588 629 ART cycles were performed in 33 European countries, 151 923 – in the USA, and 66 347 – in Australia and New Zealand. In Europe, France has a first place (85 433), followed by Germany (67 596), Italy (63 777), Russia (56 253), Spain (66 120), England (59 807).

Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, and Slovenia are leading in terms of the number of ART cycles per million. In several countries, namely Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden, more than 3% of children born annually are conceived using ART. On the other hand, in the USA, where the absolute number of ART newborns is very high (61,610 in 2011), it is just over 1% of all births.

Fertility tourism- is it a vacation?

It’s not a vacation at all! The term “fertility tourism” gives the impression that people go to a reproductive clinic in another country and in between, vacation at sea, and sightseeing in the city. But it is far from it in reality.

Here are the main reasons why people go to another country for a child:

  • cost of service
  • restrictions on the availability of services for particular categories of people in different countries
  • legislative prohibitions
  • the desire to do IVF at home, closer to relatives, and in a close environment (this is typical for some recent migrants)
  • the desire to keep the secret-the fact of the use of reproductive technologies
  • popular belief-  another country medicine is better and safer, for example, asepsis and antiseptics are better observed or a higher percentage of success (using the latest advances in this area).

In progressive countries, primarily in the United States, there are no legal prohibitions on the use of ART, but the cost of this service is high, and the state does not reimburse patients. As a result, India or other countries are attractive destinations for Americans, where conventional IVF can be done much cheaper. Even after considering the travel and accommodation costs, the services of both surrogate mothers and sperm/egg donors are cost-effective. Also, the monetary reward received by Indian surrogate mothers and donors, from their point of view, is quite large. The cost variations are quite significant: IVF, which does not require manipulation of a single sperm cell and the involvement of donors or surrogate mothers, costs 10 thousand dollars in the USA on average; in India, it costs 690 dollars ( Cross-border reproductive care: a committee report on fertility and sterility, 2013).

In most European countries, Australia and Israel, the cost of one or several treatment cycles to patients are reimbursed by the state. In the USA, some insurance companies cover various shares of the cost of medical intervention. The cost of surrogacy in India and the United States is also significantly different: on average, Indian surrogate mothers receive 8-10 thousand dollars for their services, American ones – 25.

Some countries ban specific categories of people from taking ART services. These are women (sometimes there are men) over a certain age, unmarried or in partnership, homosexual couples, and single people. There are countries where ART is inaccessible because of few clinics and very long queues (countries in the Middle East and Latin America). For wealthier citizens of these nations, reproductive tourism is an excellent option. 

Takeaway

Fertility tourism is the best way to deal with infertility and stress. Living with infertility can be disastrous for a relationship. Modern medical procedures help these couples to have children of their own. In infertility tourism, the couple moves to another country to receive fertility treatment. India is one of the most famous and affordable fertile tourism destinations. This country can offer high quality and guarantees successful infertility treatment. It also employs qualified experts in IVF procedures with a high chance of success. Spain has one of the best national health systems. It invites infertile couples to benefit from treatment through the presence of world-renowned specialists and the use of the latest technologies. Spain is additionally able to ensure complete confidentiality of treatment. Fertility clinics in Turkey’s Izmir and Istanbul give a unique opportunity at low cost. 

Stress is one of the primary causes that affect fertility in men and women. Therefore, in the first place, it is necessary to take early treatment. Many clinics around the world are renowned for their excellent quality infertility treatment services. Fertility clinics use traditional methods to eliminate stress, thereby significantly improving fertility.

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