Fertility Tourism Around the World

Fertility tourism, also known as reproductive tourism or cross-border reproductive care (CBRC), is defined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine as “the activity surrounding patients who travel outside their country of domicile to seek assisted reproductive services and treatment.”

While there has been a lot of progress in terms of how fertility treatments are perceived around the world, some countries are still restrictive towards IVF procedures for religious, social, legal or ethical reasons. Depending on where they live, infertile couples, same-sex couples and single parents may encounter obstacles when seeking out fertility treatments in their countries. For those who may not be able to receive the treatments they need at home, travelling to a fertility clinic overseas may be their only option to fulfill their dreams of parenthood.

Why do patients seek IVF abroad?

A report published on outlines the top five reasons that tourists are choosing to receive IVF treatment abroad:

  1. Anonymity. Many who choose to travel for IVF (especially those travelling from USA, Norway and the UK) prefer choosing anonymous egg donors.
  2. Age restrictions. One of the most common reasons that patients seek IVF treatment abroad is due to restrictions in age. The average age for those seeking IVF treatment is 37 years old.
  3. Legal issues. Otherwise known as “circumvention tourism,” it’s defined asthe act of traveling abroad to engage in an activity that is illegal, prohibited, or too limited in the citizen’s home country.” Countries that have more sever restrictions on IVF will see more of its citizens travelling abroad for IVF.
  4. Non-traditional families. Society has been progressing to be more accepting of same-sex couples and single parents around the world, causing a noticeable spike in IVF treatment for non-traditional family types.
  5. Cost. IVF is expensive, and the high cost of treatment has long been a barrier to its use. The United States is the country with the highest prices for IVF cycles.

Where should you travel for IVF?

Overall, the most travelled destinations for fertility tourism are concentrated across Europe, the United States, Russia and South Africa.

Map of the most popular destination countries for IVF treatment abroad. (Credit: Invitra)

IVF in the United States

The United States may be the most popular destination for IVF treatment, with the state of California being widely considered “the most surrogacy-friendly state.” It’s also considered one of the most expensive countries for treatment — the average gestational carrier fees in the USA range from $25,000 to $40,000. While the treatment comes with a high price tag, the USA also provides the best conditions for its patients, especially when it comes to surrogacy.

IVF in Europe

For those who can’t afford a costly IVF procedure, many European countries offer affordable treatments with high success rates. The cost of IVF treatments can be as little as £1,500 in parts of eastern Europe, and countries like Slovenia and Hungary see a success rate of 32%— a statistic that continues to show improvement year after year.

While fertility tourism is becoming more widely accepted across Europe, each country has its own religious beliefs, historical background and ethics, which determine how IVF treatment is perceived. The countries with the strictest views on IVF are Italy, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Prospective parents living in these nations are understandably flocking to other parts of Europe where fertility treatments are more widely accepted. The five countries with the most relaxed views on IVF treatments are:

  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

You can read the full report on IVF treatments around the world here.

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