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Baby on board: Irish 'fertility tourists' look for help abroad

28.07.2014
Baby on board: Irish 'fertility tourists' look for help abroad

Hundreds of Irish couples who desperately want to start a family are going to Spain, Denmark and the Czech Republic in a new wave of fertility tourism.

They are shunning Irish clinics in favour of seeking fertility treatments abroad to start a family. And they have been joined by same-sex couples as well as single women who want to conceive before it is too late.

Enquiries for overseas fertility treatments have increased by 59pc in the past six months alone, according to new research by the private healthcare search engine, WhatClinic.com.

The numbers of Irish people enquiring about IVF procedures in the Czech Republic has increased by a whopping 465pc in the last 12 months, with requests for information about the same treatment in Spain more than doubling during this period.

Denmark and the Czech Republic are popular not just in terms of advanced treatments but also because donors are likely to be close enough to our Celtic colouring, which is considered important in areas such as egg and sperm donation.

Meanwhile in Ireland, IVF enquires have dropped by more than a fifth this year. As well as Denmark, Spain, and the Czech Republic, the United States is also a destination of choice.

Fertility treatments such as IVF have become increasingly popular in recent years, with a number of well-known mums like Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley and Nicole Kidman all speaking openly about how it helped them to conceive.

One round of IVF in Ireland costs on average €4,662. However, in the Czech Republic, patients are paying €2,651. And with many couples needing several attempts at IVF before it is successful, the cost of the treatment can become a major factor.

While the average cost of IVF in Spain is higher than in Ireland, at an average of €4,800, it is believed that Spain's reputation as a leader in this highly specialised medical area has made it an attractive destination for Irish fertility patients.

WhatClinic.com says Irish enquiries for egg donation in the Czech Republic have tripled in the last year, with enquiries for the same services in Spain rising by a third.

"The internet has made IVF treatment abroad more accessible and more appealing," said Declan Keane, Director, Senior Clinical Embryologist with ReproMed Ireland.

"What's making them go abroad mainly is to access services, which they could not avail of in Ireland up to quite recently, such as donor sperm. So they were travelling abroad to access the sperm banks, but that is all accessible in Ireland now through ReproMed and clinics like us," Mr Keane said.

Mr Keane disagrees with a perception that Irish people are travelling overseas because they feel these clinics have more experience and expertise than fertility clinics in Ireland.

However, Mr Keane did concede that there are treatments available elsewhere, including IVF-related procedures, which have not yet been introduced in Ireland.

Sunday Independent

Tags: fertility tourists, fertility treatments abroad, IVF procedures, sperm donation,

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