Reproductive tourism is a type of medical tourism that refers to the practice of traveling to a foreign country to carry out fertility treatment. The main reason why a person or couple decides to move to another country to receive health care has to do with a lax legislation or the lack of the desired treatment in their country.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


Reproductive tourism, also called fertility tourism, is the practice of traveling to another country to carry out assisted reproduction treatments, among which in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination and gestational surrogacy, surrogacy.

Many experts consider it a subclass of medical or health tourism. It is estimated that the first trips abroad for this purpose occurred in the XNUMXth century to England to treat diseases such as gout, hepatitis or bronchitis.

The main reasons why a patient or patients are forced to travel to receive medical treatment are related to lax legislation, the lack of the required treatment or the search for cheaper prices than those available in their country of origin.

In fact, many are the people who have coined this type of tourism under the name "Reproductive exile" as a way of criticizing the few options that couples who suffer from infertility usually have, which is why they are forced to travel abroad to fulfill their dream of being parents.

What is assisted reproduction?

The term Assisted reproduction refers to the set of techniques used to treat the different infertility problems that today are increasingly common in couples around the world.

It should be clear that assisted reproduction involves the artificial manipulation of gametes (eggs and sperm) in any part of the reproductive process, from the woman's ovulation to the development of the embryo, through the formation of sperm. In Spain, it is regulated in accordance with the Law of Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques (TRHA).

Currently, the main reason why a couple may require assisted reproductive treatment has to do with the maternity delay, given that the average age to have a child ranges between 26 and 29 years.

Assisted reproduction was an unprecedented scientific revolution, as it changed the way a couple could access parenthood. Until almost the end of the 1978th century, people with sterility or infertility problems had no choice but to resign themselves or resort to adoption to start a family. All this changed after XNUMX thanks to the birth of the British Louise Brown, the first «test tube girl».

What is surrogacy?

For its part, surrogacy, commonly known as rent belly, is a reproductive alternative focused on those women who cannot have a child due to the inability to gestate. Likewise, surrogacy is a very suitable method for single men and male homosexual couples, since in this way they can have a biological child of their own.

A surrogacy process implies the presence of a woman outside the couple or person who undergoes the treatment. This woman is called pregnant or surrogate mother and is the one who agrees to bear the child of another person in exchange for financial remuneration or totally altruistic, depending on the country where this procedure is carried out. Intended parents are named after intentional parents.

To date, surrogacy is a non-generalized technique, so each country has its own regulations, either to allow it based on a series of requirements or to prohibit it.

This assisted reproductive technique not allowed in Spain in accordance with the Assisted Reproduction Law 14/2006, although nevertheless it is estimated that in this country there are currently between 1.000 and 1.400 babies who have been born by surrogacy in a foreign country, according to information provided by different Spanish associations. To learn more, we recommend you visit the specialized magazine Babygest.

Most requested treatments

Annually, it is estimated that between 20.000 and 25.000 couples and singles resort to reproductive tourism to start a family. As mentioned above, the main reasons for opting for this mode of conception are related to any of the following aspects of the country of origin: not very permissive legislation, excessively high prices or lack of treatment.

What are the most demanded treatments internationally? We show them below:

  • Egg donation or egg donation
  • Sex selection
  • Artificial insemination with donor semen
  • Surrogacy

It should be noted that reproductive tourism is also a widely demanded option among the LGBT collective and the women and men who decide to embark on the road to motherhood alone.

Thus, while surrogacy is popular among homosexual male couples, among lesbian couples there is a type of in vitro fertilization called CLOTHING method, in which one of the women gives her eggs to the other, who will be the one who carries the future baby. This treatment is allowed in Spain, although the couple must be married.

In the specialized magazine INVITE You can find information regarding egg, semen and embryo donation along with the requirements to carry out these treatments and international clinics.

Assisted reproduction destinations

These are the main countries that those interested in assisted reproduction usually travel to:


It is estimated that almost half of the IVF treatments with donor eggs carried out in Europe take place in Spain. Artificial insemination with donor sperm is another of the most popular treatments for British tourists traveling to Spain.

However, this trend began to change in the late 1990s and early XNUMXst century, when the donation limit was lowered by law to six per individual.

If you want to obtain detailed information and find out which are the main assisted reproduction clinics in Spain, we advise you to take a look at the specialized website ORG Assisted Reproduction. To expand the information offered here, you can access the following article: Fertility tourism to get pregnant.

Currently, we find a significant number of quality clinics that carry out assisted reproduction treatments to people from all over the world, including Latin America.

Other countries

Israel It is currently the most requested country at an international level to carry out in vitro fertilization treatments, since it is the one with the largest number of assisted reproduction clinics in the world.

Secondly, the United States stands out mainly for being the favorite destination of the majority of European citizens due, on the one hand, to its high success rates and, on the other, to the flexibility of its set of laws in this field. In the US, donors receive a financial benefit for donating their eggs and can remain anonymous or, conversely, reveal their identity to the recipient partner or woman.

The fact that sex selection is allowed in United States It is something that is very attractive for the British tourist, basically because it is only possible through a technique known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is not legal in the United Kingdom.

Anonymous egg donation is one of the main reasons why a large number of Canadian women travel to the US year after year to undergo this treatment. Likewise, egg donation is the treatment most demanded by Canadian women, since it is estimated that about 80% of their trips due to reproductive tourism are to carry out this technique.

Regarding sperm donation, Denmark It is the main destination for those women who seek to undergo artificial insemination with donor semen. Likewise, it is the leading country in the export of semen to other countries, which means that there is the possibility of buying semen through the Internet to carry out a home artificial insemination with donated semen. The destinations with the greatest demand for donor semen are: Paraguay, Canada, Hong Kong and Kenya.

Within Europe, the majority of citizens who travel abroad to undergo fertility treatment come from Germany and Italy, which are the most restrictive countries with regard to the number of eggs to fertilize and the number of embryos to transfer or freeze.

On the other hand, approximately 52% of American women travel to India and other Asian countries to undergo IVF treatment with an egg donor, due to the excessive prices of this treatment in the USA.

Surrogacy destinations

Surrogacy is not legal in a large number of countries, which is why it is one of the top treatments of so-called reproductive tourism. Although it is allowed in several countries, the truth is that the most requested are: United States, Russia, Ukraine and India.

In the United States, the main attraction of surrogacy is the high quality with which all procedures related to this treatment are performed. The preferred state for the international patient is California, given that its laws are probably the most permissive for both heterosexual couples and the LGBT community.

India has become popular in recent years because of its relatively low price compared to other destinations. Furthermore, the laws in India regarding surrogacy are quite flexible, although it has been banned since 2014 for gay couples and single people.

The permissive set of laws of Russia it is very attractive to "reproductive" tourists who choose it as a destination. Both egg donation and gestational surrogacy are completely legal in Russia and can even be carried out for purely commercial reasons, that is, to obtain financial gain. The main advantage is that international patients have the same rights as Russian citizens to carry out this treatment.

Ukraine also accepts surrogacy and is another popular destination because pregnant women are prohibited from claiming the maternity of the baby according to the Ukrainian Family Code. In this way, the fear in intentional parents that some kind of parentage problem may arise once the baby is born disappears.

Greece and United Kingdom are two other countries in which surrogacy is legal, although in the United Kingdom there are a large number of restrictions, among which the fact that there is no legal regulation that ensures future parents the right of filiation once baby born. In Greece, on the other hand, this treatment has been allowed for foreign citizens since 2014.

Surrogacy is also accepted in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Tabasco. Until the end of 2015, Mexico was one of the destinations for reproductive tourism for this reason, but as of that date, the new regulations regarding surrogacy establish that only Mexican citizens may undergo this treatment.

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