Reproductive tourism is a type of medical tourism in which patients travel to other states or countries  seeking fertility treatments in various forms because those treatments aren’t available to them in their own state or country for any number of reasons.

Reasons for reproductive tourism

The reasons that people travel abroad for fertility treatments are wide ranging, but most are seeking in vitro fertilization or third party reproduction.

Common reasons include:

  • The treatments aren’t legally available in their home country, or availability is extremely limited.
  • Some types of patients aren’t eligible for treatments by law of their home country, including gays, lesbians, single people, and members of certain religions.
  • Some countries have waiting lists that are too long to make childbearing a reality.
  • The cost of the treatment is significantly lower in another country, even after the travel expenses are factored in.
  • The donor options are greater in another country, or a specific country can provide a desired genealogy.
  • Certain countries have better options for control over fertilization results. For example, the United States permits pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of in vitro fertilization embryos, allowing couples to pick and choose which embryos will be implanted in the uterus based on genetic factors, including chromosomal deficiencies and sex. PGD used for sex selection is illegal in some other countries that offer in vitro fertilization.

Who engages in reproductive tourism?

People engage in reproductive tourism because a state or country other than their own can offer them better fertility treatment options. According to data gathered in 2010, as many as 25,000 individuals and couples sought reproductive treatments abroad.

It has been coined as a form of tourism because the industry has brought significant numbers of people to other countries where they spend money on fertility treatments, in addition to other forms of tourism costs such as food, accommodations, travel, and entertainment.

Who benefits from reproductive tourism?

Reproductive tourism really benefits everyone involved. Couples expand their fertility options by going abroad. Doctors, clinics, and the industry itself are able to help a greater number of people, expand their businesses, compile more research, and advance the technology. The countries with greater fertility options benefit from an increased number of visitors and more money entering their economies.

Reproductive tourism enables many couples to make their dreams of parenthood come true. It is especially beneficial for hopeful couples to bring their reproductive concerns to the United States, where top-of-the-line fertility treatments are accessible, along with the best medical and psychological advice to ensure the best outcome is achieved.