Infertility treatment is expensive – it can set the savviest spender back several thousand dollars for just one round of IVF. That’s why patients cross borders and travel abroad in search of cheaper, more available fertility treatment. Patients can now choose from more than 100 countries that offer infertility treatment; however, you need to be smart about your choices so you don’t put yourself or your baby at risk.
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) conducted a survey of reproductive services offered in over 100 countries globally. The survey showed many differences between laws and practice in many countries. As a result, patients returning home may face legal or medical problems.
Francoise Francoise Shenfield from ESHRE stated “Although in principle the care of foreign and local patients should essentially be the same and fit the best possible standards, there is evidence that it is not always so,”
This survey of 105 countries that was conducted by the IFFS showed that social attitudes, religious and cultural beliefs with regards to fertility treatments using donated eggs, sperm or embryos mean there are wide variations in the number of clinics that offer treatment, and the services they provide.
In India alone there are over 500 fertility clinics. In Japan there are more – 615. Those numbers begin to drop off – In Italy there are around 360, in Spain about 200, Germany 120 and the UK brings up the rear with only 66.
IFFS education director Ian Cooke stated that discrepancies in access prompted patients to travel abroad for treatment, but could leave them in medical, financial or legal difficulties.
One of the biggest challenges globally are the rules and guidelines surrounding the maximum number of embryos that are legally allowable to be transferred into a woman’s uterus during the IVF cycle.
There are no universal standards globally. For instance, in the UK and Scandinavia no more than two are allowed. Other countries around the globe have higher limits. We know from years of study that high order pregnancies come with their own risks to both baby and mother.
Did you know that in Germany, Italy and Croatia you cannot legally freeze embryos, however, you can freeze eggs before they are fertilized. And in the UK the removal of donors’ anonymity has led to a severe shortage in donated sperm and eggs.
If we look at many Islamic countries sperm and egg donation is banned completely. If you are a lesbian you can forget going to France for IVF because you are not allowed access to donated sperm.
And we can’t forget Turkey – they recently banned anyone going abroad to receive donated sperm or eggs — a law which the experts said was almost completely unenforceable. I mean really? You leave Turkey to go on vacation and come back pregnant. What are they going to do tell you how and when you are allowed to conceive?
ESHRE and IFFS state that they support the rights of patients who travel to receive fertility treatment but they would like it if their patients stayed in their home country to receive treatment. Well, wouldn’t we all like to stay in our home country to receive fertility treatment? I know I would, however, the problem is not all countries offer the same quality of fertility treatment at the same price with the same legalities. And as we know there are some countries who just ban fertility treatment and that’s not fair either.
Because of the differences in international law regarding infertility treatment is one of the main reasons that many couples go abroad for treatment. It’s unavoidable – and until the international standards change and ensure patients are going to receive consistent treatment, safe treatment in their own countries they are going to go abroad.
Before you travel anywhere for fertility tourism treatment or any medical procedure for that matter make sure you do your homework, research the country and clinic where you wish to travel and always come back all your overseas infertility needs.