You’ve probably heard about the growing trend of “medical tourism” – traveling to other countries for medical treatments that are too difficult to get in the U.S., too expensive, or both. Assisted reproductive treatments (ART), like in vitro fertilization (IVF), are among the treatments women and couples are pursuing outside the United States.
A recent study out of the UK, published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at this trend among British couples and women, probing into why people went abroad, where they went, and whether the treatments worked or not. Though the study sample was small – just 41 cases (a case was either an individual or a couple) were interviewed in 2009 and 2010 – the study yielded some interesting results. For these UK patients, the most popular destinations were Spain and the Czech Republic. They cited the cost of treatment at home; higher success rates abroad; a shortage of donors in the UK (especially egg donors); the chance to be treated in a less stressful environment; and dissatisfaction with the treatment they got at home as reasons for packing their bags. (Unlike the US, the UK has a national health system that covers all citizens for much of their medical care, at no additional cost.) The researchers reported 26 cases (of the 41) resulted in a live birth or pregnancy.
In April, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) set the first-ever standards in Cross Border Reproductive Care (CBRC) to help ensure “the safety of patients, gamete donors, surrogates and future children.” It’s estimated that there could be as many as 30,000 cycles of “cross-border” treatment annually in Europe.
Would you travel outside the U.S. for fertility treatment? If so, where would you go and why? If you’ve gone abroad for treatment, please share your story!