There has been a lot of negative press recently about “reproductive tourism” – or cross-border reproductive care; that is traveling abroad for fertility services. However, the fact remains that in some areas couples struggling to start a family sometimes have no other option but to seek help away from their homes. This is the case for couples in the U.K. who must turn to egg donation as their only hope in order to conceive. For them, there is a three year wait for donor eggs. This is a huge obstacle for those anxious to start their families and for women already of an age where they can not afford to wait. In the U.S. the wait is much shorter. In fact, at many programs such as mine at East Coast Fertility we have a donor database with immediate availability. In an ideal world, patients wouldn’t have to leave their country and their local doctors to get the treatment they need in a timely fashion. But the reality in the UK is that many couples cannot afford to wait until a donor egg becomes available there.
Other reasons for patients seeking treatment abroad include limitations on medical technology, cost or even government restrictions on treatment that drives people to leave their home land for treatment.
The interesting thing about Cross Border reproductive care is that the currents of travelers go both ways in the United States. We have Americans who travel to India because they cannot afford the surrogacy fees in the United States, and to places like Israel, South America and Mexico for less expensive IVF.
Patients from countries such as Spain are traveling to the United States for procedures such as surrogacy which is outlawed in their country.
The flow of patients knows no borders. Everyone wishes that patients could receive treatment in their own country. Adding in the pressure of leaving one’s job, families, traveling to a country that you don’t know and perhaps even having language difficulties can make treatments that are already stressful – more so. But the desire to have a child also knows no borders – and patients will do what they need to do to achieve their dreams of parenthood.