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Journalists launch  'fertility tourism' investigation

3 May 2011
Appeared in BioNews 605

A BBC Radio Scotland investigation examining examples of 'fertility tourism' has highlighted the emotional, physical and financial concerns faced by couples travelling abroad to seek fertility treatment.

One couple told journalists they had spent almost £90,000 and remortgaged their home to fund a series of fertility treatments abroad, including the United States, after being denied treatment on the NHS because of age restrictions.

Increasing numbers of patients choose to take the overseas route to pregnancy, driven by a desperate desire to have a baby, the programme said. Professor Richard Fleming, director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine, suggested one major cause was women starting their families later in life. He was concerned that the public is unaware that human fertility starts declining at the age of 31.

'By the mid-30s, eggs are of poor quality, and chances of natural conception have decreased considerably, and even IVF, struggles to make up the shortfall', he explained.

Numerous studies have examined the reasons why couples go overseas for treatment. Infertility Network UK carried out an online 'fertility tourism' survey and found that 76 percent (%) of respondents would consider travelling abroad for treatment. Of those, 70.5% said it was because of shorter waiting times than in the UK, 69.5% gave the cost of treatment as a reason, and 61% pointed to the success rates of conception in clinics abroad.

Dr Francoise Shenfield, an expert on the ethics of fertility treatment from the University College London, explained that 'access for fertility treatment in the UK is much poorer than similar countries of similar economies' and people can't afford to go privately.  

The cost of fertility treatment 'tourism'
BBC News |  24 April 2011
The Investigation
BBC Radio Scotland |  24 April 2011
4 July 2011 - by Rose Palmer 
The shortage of egg and sperm donors, and the cost of IVF in the UK, need to be addressed to reduce the number of people travelling abroad for fertility treatment, according to a report published this week....
20 December 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
European fertility clinics are being encouraged to collaborate and ensure fertility patients receive safe and fair access to treatment abroad, according to guidelines approved this month by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)...
29 November 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Are European airlines bursting with 'fertility tourists' risking their health by travelling abroad? Do most people seeking fertility treatment overseas fit the media stereotype - white, middle-class career women over 50? Does cross-border reproductive care (CBRC) include eggs imported from abroad? Dr Françoise Shenfield and Professor Lorraine Culley tried to answer these questions during the first session of last Wednesday's Progress Educational Trust (PET) annual conference...
20 September 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A Cypriot fertility clinic has closed down after questions about its involvement in selling human eggs. The clinic, situated in the village of Zygi, Southern Cyprus, dealt mostly with donors from Eastern Europe, AFP news agency reports...
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