IVF in Spain Reviewed by Experts
Type “IVF in Spain reviews” into Google search and you will be confronted with numerous articles, reviews and testimonials but whom and what should you believe? We want to provide you with a balanced perspective based on the thoughts and experience of the country’s leading fertility experts. Whether you are looking for IVF in Alicante, IVF in Madrid or IVF in Barcelona, to name but a few, this article is for you. This article offers an honest and transparent introduction to the fertility treatment offered in Spain, direct from those charged with the responsibility of helping you create the family of your dreams.
For a number of decades, Spain has been considered the most popular destination for those seeking to travel for fertility treatment. IVF treatment in Spain is now more popular than ever with year-on-year increases in patient numbers. So what makes IVF in Spain so special? This article will provide a snapshot of the many reasons why.
Whatever treatment you are seeking; whether it be IVF with donor eggs in Spain, donor sperm or IVF with own gametes you can easily be overwhelmed with the amount of information that is freely available online. You could spend countless hours assembling and considering reviews and information and still end up confused or unsure of what information to accept and what to deny or ignore. This article will attempt to make your experience that much easier. Using the direct experience of those that have dedicated their professional lives to making your dreams come true, we help you out about what Spain has to offer, and how treatments are regulated and monitored; consider the availability of different types of treatment and donors and discuss success rates, prices and the impact that the Covid 19 pandemic has had on access to treatment providers.
We have enjoyed our time getting to know the professionals that manage fertility treatments across Spain. Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope that this article will help you navigate IVF in Spain reviews and enable you to choose the treatment that is right for you. For our part, we can summarise the treatment options, care and support Spain offers in a couple of sentences.
Liberal laws, regulated clinics, experienced, multi-lingual teams. Equipped with the most up-to-date scientific and medical technology make Spain the right choice for so many. Diverse donors ensure choice is wide and waiting lists are short (if at all) and the success rates offered are amongst the best that the fertility world can offer.
IVF in Spain Reviews
Our IVF in Spain campaign was designed to ask the questions that so many of you ask us. We wanted to know more about regulation, Spanish fertility law, the level of care and support offered by clinics; the different kinds of treatments offered, their cost and specific information about what patients can expect from a visit to a Spanish fertility clinic. We hope you find the IVF in Spain reviews in this article useful; they are composed by the leading figures within the Spanish fertility sector and provide an excellent opportunity for you to gain a crucial understanding of what is on offer. If you are interested to hear more about a specific subject follow the link to access a short video brought to you by the expert in question.
Why do patients choose Spain for IVF or egg donation?
Spain has become the leading country in Europe for international patients seeking assisted reproduction treatments.
The country’s treatment providers now assist 40% of all international patients who travel to, or within Europe and performs the highest number of procedures in Europe, some 120,000 per year. IVF with donor eggs in Spain accounts for a large percentage of treatments undertaken by international patients.
The quality of Spanish fertility treatments is in part due to the vast experience offered by treatment centre teams who have built up expensive experience of addressing the diverse needs of the international patient including those with more challenging requirements.
These teams benefit from working in environments which offer state-of-the-art technologies to ensure patients have access to the most advanced medical and scientific assistance available. It is no wonder therefore that success rates offered by Spanish fertility clinics are amongst the highest in the world.
Finally, Spanish fertility law and regulatory framework ensure that patient safety is at the heart of every procedure and access is completely open for women over the age of 18 regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.
From what countries (and why these) do patients most often come for IVF treatment in Spain?
Patients from all over the world travel for IVF treatment in Spain. The reasons for this are numerous ranging from the diversity of treatments to the outstanding level of care and support offered by treatment providers. German patients travel for treatments involving egg donation as these are not legally available in Germany; how do UK patients travel for IVF with donor eggs in Spain due to availability problems in the UK and the fact that Spain offers treatments with anonymous donors? Spain is also a popular destination for French patients for a variety of reasons including lesbian couples who, until recently could not access treatment in their home country.
Spain has developed a worldwide reputation for offering high-quality and successful treatments to international patients and continues to do so due to the strong regulatory framework which protects and supports patients and the warm welcome which is offered to tourists.
Which Spanish cities are the most popular among fertility patients and why?
Spain is an important and welcoming destination for fertility travellers. It has become the leading country to visit for those individuals and couples seeking high-quality treatments that offer the best chances of success. Spanish fertility clinics pride themselves on offering personalised treatments which translate into excellent success rates; the treatment centres offer the most sophisticated technologies and are staffed by experienced clinicians and scientists.
With an excellent climate, an accessible and affordable transport network Spain offers urban areas with diverse clinics such as Barcelona and Madrid which are well-known to tourists. For those seeking an alternative to large cities, smaller towns and cities such as Bilbao and Malaga offer clinics with excellent reputations.
Clinics in Spain are very experienced in supporting international patients from different countries and many have multi-lingual teams who are able to provide practical advice regarding travel and accommodation as well as emotional support and facilitating communication between clinic and patient. Patients will find treatment options in all of the Spanish regions and due to the regulatory framework which shapes and manages assisted reproduction can be assured of a consistent and quality-driven level of care and support.
The Fertility Market in Spain
The fertility market in Spain is one of the most active in the world and it attracts patients seeking many different assisted reproductive procedures. Similar to other countries 9% of all live births in Spain are now a result of assisted reproductive treatments. Over 200 registered treatment providers in Spain undertake over 100,000 assisted reproductive cycles per year and one-fifth of these are carried out on international (non-domestic) patients. Over 50% of these procedures are IVF treatments and the overwhelming number of these involve egg donation. Since 2003 the number of international patients visiting Spain for fertility treatment has risen by over 30 times. The majority of patients come from the U.K., France and Italy.
One of the reasons why Spain is such a popular destination for those seeking fertility treatments is its long track record. The first baby born as a result of an IVF procedure was in 1984 (the fourth baby in the world to be born as a result of IVF treatment) followed by the first baby born as a result of egg donation treatment in 1988.
In 2005 Spain started to offer patients access to a treatment referred to as ROPA (Reception of Oocytes from Partner) or commonly known in English as ‘Shared Motherhood’. This procedure allows women in same-sex relationships to share a biological connection to their baby – one provides her eggs which are fertilised by a sperm donor in-vitro and the resulting embryo is carried by the partner.
Quality of treatment in Spain. How is it monitored? What are the requirements?
In 2001 the first National Health Ministry Registry was established in Catalonia and was subsequently extended across the country and its compilation and management were overseen by the Spanish Fertility Society (S.E.F.). Today the National Registry which contains information on the treatments undertaken, success rates and important reports on how individual (private and public) clinics operate is one of the most comprehensive in the world. Each year the S.E.F. produce an annual report which is shared with the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) who compile a report and statistics on all procedures undertaken by countries in Europe.
All new clinics in Spain have to obtain a licence to operate from the National Health Ministry or where appropriate, the local authority in which the clinic is situated. New clinics have to demonstrate that they offer state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and are managed by experienced practitioners. The rigorous, and often lengthy, the registration process is undertaken to ensure that the clinic is able to provide a sufficiently high level of treatment, care and support and provides prospective patients with a degree of reassurance that they will be treated fairly and ethically.
Fertility Customer Care in Spain – What distinguishes it from other countries?
There are a number of characteristics that define the high level of customer care offered by Spanish clinics. Customer care is seen as one of the unique selling points which define Spanish fertility clinics. From the moment a patient contacts a clinic, the patient-centred care process begins. Experienced coordinators and nursing staff facilitate the first consultation with a clinician and are on hand to answer any questions, address doubts and calm anxieties. The fertility specialists are approachable, communicative and knowledgeable and play a pivotal role in inpatient care. The medical teams work hand in hand with the scientific teams whose laboratories are really state-of-the-art.
Alongside the medical and scientific teams, you have nurse, patient and administrative teams who ensure a high level of service is maintained throughout the clinic experience. This includes the consultation and diagnosis phase; the procedure and ultimately, the anticipated (successful) conclusion.
When it comes to customer care in regard to fertility services you will be hard-pushed to find another country that offers the same high standards as Spain. Patient Coordinators are employed by clinics to cater for your needs from the logistics of booking accommodation, to facilitating communication with medical staff and being available (in most cases) 24/7. Finally, a high level of customer care has been established and modified over time. International patients, often with challenging fertility health issues, have been travelling to Spain in their thousands for over two decades and this has culminated in customer care driven by the experience.
How is fertility treatment regulated by Spanish law?
The level of fertility regulation offered in Spain is extremely high compared to many countries and is independently assessed and monitored to ensure the safety of patients and the transparency of the service offered by treatment providers. Each registered clinic is obliged to share records of its activities on an annual basis with the Spanish Fertility Society. The Society in turn is assisted by a range of independent agencies who are charged with the responsibility of ensuring data accuracy with each clinic. The Society then manages a National Registry detailing all procedures carried out and information about success rates. On an annual basis, this information is shared with The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and can be compared to treatments and clinics in different countries throughout Europe.
In Spain, there is an extensive range of treatments available to patients with the exception of surrogacy and those associated with gender selection. Same-sex (female) couples, single women and opposite-sex couples (married or unmarried) can access treatments. Treatments offered include IVF, IUI and those involving egg donors. It is the latter treatment which is the most in demand in Spain and especially for those patients who travel.
The regulation also covers the transportation of gametes in and out of the country; the process of egg, sperm and embryo vitrification (freezing) which can be offered to patients and is not time-limited. Some treatments and procedures are expressively prohibited by Spanish law such as commercial surrogacy but others like the maximum age of the female patients (50); the upper Body Mass Index (BMI) limit for treatment (35) and single embryo transfers have been collectively agreed and accepted by the Spanish treatment providers themselves.
Spanish fertility legislation is one of the most liberal in the world and this is one of the defining reasons for Spain is one of the top destinations for those contemplating travel for their fertility treatment.
Availability – For whom is IVF treatment available in Spain?
Spain offers a diverse range of reproductive treatments and these are protected and shaped by one of the most advanced and liberal legal frameworks in Europe.
Liberal Spanish legislation means that patients can access a wide variety of treatments and preservation techniques with the exception of surrogacy or those procedures associated with gender selection.
According to Spanish law which was established in 2006, any woman over 18 who has mental capacity can access assisted reproductive techniques irrespective of her marital status or sexual orientation. Therefore, women in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or single can access treatments. The maximum age of female patients in Spain is 50 – this age limit is not one which has been set by law but one which has been unanimously agreed by Spanish clinics based on the potential risks to the patient as they age. Female fertility declines with age especially between ten and fifteen years before menopause with a decline in the quantity and quality of the eggs. By the age of 35, the average woman has only 10% left of the eggs she was born with and this will have an impact on her ability to get pregnant naturally.
Anyone who wants to donate sperm or eggs can do so anonymously and the recipient of any donation has limited information about the individual donor. Spanish legislation also allows flexibility in terms of reproductive life planning – women can choose to undergo treatment alone and become a single parent or decide to postpone motherhood until later in life. The latter is possible due to legislation which allows treatment centres to freeze eggs and embryos until the woman wants to begin assisted reproductive treatment.
How does the law regulate IVF treatment with own eggs in Spain?
Spanish law provides a specific framework for the regulation of IVF treatments using patients’ own eggs. This framework also allows for some discretion that can be applied by individual treatment providers and has established the Spanish Fertility Society which is charged with overseeing and monitoring the work of clinics across the country.
There are some specific examples of which patients can access IVF treatment with own eggs in Spain. Firstly, the maximum age of female patients is 50. One impact of advanced maternal age is the reduced number and quality of eggs that a woman has. This will obviously affect her chances of conceiving using her own eggs and depending on her general health any pregnancy might increase the risks of complications during it or at birth.
Clinics in Spain are also mindful of a patient’s Body Mass Index (BMI). For those women who are accessing publicly-funded treatment through national health provisions, a notional BMI of 32 is applied. This figure is increased to around 35 in private clinics. Therefore any woman intending to undergo IVF with her own eggs will need to ensure that her BMI levels are within the acceptable levels applied by the treatment centres.
The Spanish Fertility Society now recommends that in most cases it is preferable if the clinic offers patients a single embryo transfer thus removing any potential complications caused by transferring higher numbers of embryos which could result in multiple births and possible health risks for the mother and any babies.
Finally, the law also offers women who are considering IVF with their own eggs the possibility of freezing them until they are ready to undergo the treatment itself. The law states that frozen eggs may be kept frozen for an indefinite period as long as they are only used by the patient before her 50th birthday.
Reviewed by: Dr. Alejandra Aguilar Crespo, Gynaecologist, Equipo Juana Crespo
Watch video review here >>>
What is the Spanish legislation in detail on IVF with donor eggs?
Spanish law covers a number of aspects of IVF treatments with donor eggs. This is important as proportionately, Spain undertakes more such treatments than anywhere else in the world. The country’s regulatory body, the Spanish Fertility Society records all procedures undertaken by clinics and also ensures that they work ethically and within the law.
The treatment is possible because of donors who remain anonymous to the recipient(s) and vice versa. The treatment which is available to women under 50 who are in good health boasts the highest success rates associated with IVF due to the quality of the eggs which are used in the procedure.
Age as well as general health defines a patient’s eligibility for treatment with donor eggs. So does a patient’s weight. It is a known factor that obesity increases the risk of complications in pregnancy and conception therefore a woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important element that clinics consider when deciding who is eligible for such treatment. Whilst Spanish law does not impose a mandatory ceiling on BMI the national health system requires women to have a BMI lower than 32 to access funded treatment; clinics treating private patients suggest a BMI of lower than 35 is highly recommended.
Over the last decade, there has also been a move in Spain to reduce the number of embryos which are transferred to a patient. It is now the case that single embryo transfer is the preferred procedure. As far as egg donors are concerned individuals can donate until a maximum number of six children are born (including any of their own). Women in same-sex relationships and single women have legal access to all reproductive treatments.
Spanish fertility laws are viewed as some of the most liberal in the world but a combination of mandatory and discretionary rules ensure that patients receive a safe, transparent and reliable service in relation to all their assisted reproductive requirements.
What is the legislation in Spain regarding sperm donation?
The Spanish legal system provides rules for treatments involving sperm donation.
Sperm donors are aged between 18 and 35 and must be in good physical and mental health. Not all donor applicants are chosen by treatment providers. Each has to share details of their medical history, undergo a psychological assessment and have a medical examination including an andrological evaluation. Finally, a blood test has to be taken to rule out possible infectious diseases and genetic testing will be untaken.
Sperm donors retain anonymity therefore the treatment provider can retain information about each donor and only share a limited amount of this with the recipient. It will be the responsibility of the treatment provider to ultimately choose the donor once the recipient has been offered basic information such as physical traits (hair/eye colour, height, weight).
The Spanish Fertility Society maintain a National Registry which contains information about registered clinics and the procedures which have involved donors. It ensures that all procedures are undertaken legally and ensures that donors can not donate more times than is legally permissible – in Spain, for instance, a donor can only produce a maximum of six children.
What is the ROPA legislation in Spain?
In Spain, same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of marriage and adoption. Despite Spanish legislation which states that treatments involving donors have to be undertaken anonymously, the ROPA legislation established in 2005 is an exception to the rule.
ROPA, known as ‘Reception of Oocytes from Partner’ or ‘Shared Mothered’ allows a same-sex female couple the opportunity to experience and share the IVF treatment process. The procedure involves one of the partners undergoing a standard IVF protocol; follicles and eggs will be produced via stimulation with medication and once these are mature the eggs will be retrieved from her ovaries under sedation. Sperm from a donor will be sought and used to fertilise the retrieved eggs and these will be monitored in an incubator for up to five days. Whilst this is happening the other partner will receive hormone treatment designed to thicken the endometrium and prepare it for implantation. Once implantation has occurred the patient will take a blood test after two weeks to confirm a pregnancy. The ROPA procedure, therefore, allows the carrier to know the identity of her egg donor, her partner and is one of the very few occasions when this is legally acceptable.
What is the qualification process for egg donors in Spain?
In order to qualify as a donor in Spain, individuals are aged between 18 and 35 and are required to be in good physical and psychological health.
Not all prospective donors are chosen – each applicant is interviewed by a Doctor and they will need to share their personal and family medical history and undergo a number of physical and psychological examinations to ensure they are fit and healthy.
The medical team within each clinic makes the ultimate decision of which donor is matched to the recipient patient. As donors are required to be anonymous in Spain only certain defining characteristics are shared with the recipient. These include blood type and physical traits such as hair and eye colour and weight. The recipient can also ask the age of the donor.
A financial payment is made to each donor to cover reasonable expenses which have been incurred by their action. This payment can be anywhere between 800 and 1,000 euros. Spanish donors represent diverse communities and each clinic undertakes extensive tests to ensure that any donor matched to a recipient is physically, emotionally and genetically fit.
The donor-recipient matching process (sperm, eggs, embryos) in Spain
In Spain, donors are anonymous therefore the clinic will take active participation in matching donors with recipients. The matching of physical characteristics is undertaken. Recipients can find out baseline information about possible donors which includes, hair and eye colour; weight, height and skin colour. During the initial consultation patients are requested to complete consent forms which detail their physical characteristics are these are matched with donors. The clinic might then choose a shortlist of 5 to 7 donors and then apply genetic matching tools to ensure compatibility.
Certain clinics in Spain will also employ tools like the Fenomatch product which uses facial recognition technology to match donors and recipients. Once a donor is chosen the clinic will invariably choose a backup donor in case they are required.
What is the availability of egg donors in Spain?
IVF treatment with an egg donor is the most popular treatment undertaken by international patients in Spain. Due to demand, Spanish treatment providers invest much time and capital in ensuring that they can respond to any specific needs identified by patients.
In addition to clinics purchasing donor eggs and sperm from international gamete bank providers, many clinics have established their own banks which means that access to eggs, in particular, is broad and patients can choose between fresh or frozen eggs.
Treatment providers are very proactive in the recruitment of young, healthy donors. Each receives a compensation payment to cover any expenses incurred by the donation and has to undergo a range of physical and psychological examinations and assessments to ensure their capacity to donate.
The vast majority of IVF clinics in Spain report a diversity of donors in terms of race although many suggest that the numbers of donors representative of certain races are limited due to a variety of cultural or religious reasons.
Many clinics do not have discernible waiting lists and therefore patients can access treatments with a donor very quickly compared to many other countries.
All donors remain anonymous and therefore very limited personal information about them is shared with the recipient(s).
Reviewed by: Dr. Nadia Caroppo, Head of the International Medical Team, Equipo Juana Crespo
Watch the video review here >>>
What effect can COVID-19 have on IVF treatment, embryos, egg donors, and pregnancy from a medical perspective?
Covid-19 has brought about the most challenging of times. However, as time has passed it is now acknowledged that the virus does not directly affect the efficacy of treatments.
Clinics have recovered from the point of having to stop all procedures and are now responding to a changing world by establishing and maintaining policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of all patients. Masks, social distancing and vaccines mean that clinics are safe and secure and Spanish clinics are no different. Substantial investments have been made to ensure that the pandemic does not have any negative impact on access and treatments.
How is the IVF treatment organised in Spanish clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Spanish clinics have invested both time and capital to ensure their facilities are as safe as they can be and during the various lock-down periods the treatment centres utilised a range of diverse technologies and online platforms to ensure that communication flowed freely between them and the patient.
This communication was particularly important when travel restrictions were imposed or lifted at short notice for international patients. So too, for new patients and those that had eggs and/or embryos frozen at treatment centres. When patients were able to personally visit clinics again in Spain treatment providers introduced a flexible way of working. The time between appointments was increased reducing the number of patients that were in the building at any one time and facilitating social distancing. Despite the ongoing nature of the Covid situation, visiting Spanish clinics remains a safe option and the bounce back in terms of patients willing to start or recommence treatment indicates that this will continue.
It is possible to have PGS done in Spain? What are the indications?
In Spain it is legally permissible to offer different types of PGS and if there is any doubt as to whether PGS would be appropriate in a specific case the matter can be referred to an independent National Ethics Committee to consider.
The procedure is safe and doesn’t affect the implantation rate of embryos. It should be undertaken on the safest day which is day 5 and is appropriate for women of advanced maternal age and those who have experienced recurrent miscarriage.
Innovations and New IVF techniques in Spain. What does an immunology test look like?
Immunology tests are offered by treatment providers to measure and identify any anomalies within the endometrium. They are used increasingly in Spain and their ability to highlight any specific issues are a significant factor in Spanish clinics high success rates. Tests identify anomalies and these anomalies can be treated where possible prior to any subsequent treatment to encourage a more positive outcome.
The tests involve taking a biopsy from the womb lining and the cells contained in the extraction are examined. Immunological medication can then be considered. Spanish clinics provide some excellent examples of innovation and those that offer immunology tests are providing greater hope for women who would otherwise be denied the opportunity of motherhood.
Innovations and New IVF techniques in Spain. What does an endometrium receptivity test look like?
This important test which detects the receptivity of the patient’s womb lining is seen as an integral aspect of the diagnostic investigation process and is undertaken by clinics themselves. This test has been made possible by the extensive experience achieved by fertility professionals in Spain over four decades.
What is the average cost of an IVF treatment in Spain?
The cost of treatments in Spain will vary between clinics depending on things like their success rates; the technologies offered and used in procedures and the experience and reputation of their professional teams. As a rule of thumb, however, the average cost of an IVF procedure using a patient’s own eggs and that of a procedure involving the eggs of a donor ranges between 5,000 and 10,000 Euros.
Patients must be aware of any fixed prices quoted. Specifically, patients must ask what is included in any quote to ensure they do not agree to treatment and then find out later that they will incur additional costs. Actual costs may not be determined until the patient has undergone preparatory tests and a diagnosis is confirmed.
There are a variety of refund packages offered by clinics and these are not necessarily a bad thing. Such programmes which offer refunds if a pregnancy is not achieved can illustrate the treatment providers confidence in their ability to offer successful treatments.
Reviewed by: Dr. Clara Colomé, Medical Deputy Director at Eugin Clinic
Watch the video review here >>>
What are the IVF success rates in Spain?
Success rates are collected and recorded in Spain to ensure their accuracy. The most important determinant when examining success rates is the age of the patient when using their own eggs.
Certain parameters are used to determine success rates from a clinical and laboratory perspective. In terms of the clinical perspective, data is obtained at specific points in the treatment. These points include the pregnancy rate achieved two weeks after the initial techniques employed; the clinical pregnancy rate obtained by the first ultrasound scan and delivery rates.
From a laboratory perspective, data is obtained regarding the number of oocytes obtained from each cycle, fertilisation rates, the probability of embryo implantation, certain embryo culture factors and the survival rates of embryos in the vitrification process.
The Spanish Fertility Society is responsible for collating, recording and maintaining success rates from each registered clinic. The information provided by the clinics themselves is externally audited by independent agencies to ensure transparency and offer confidence in their accuracy.
Reviewed by: Dr. Clara Colomé, Medical Deputy Director at Eugin Clinic
Watch the video review here >>>
We hope that the above article has helped you get to know the professionals that manage fertility treatments across Spain. The balanced perspective on IVF in Spain has been brought to you by the experts from the following clinics:
- iGin Fertility Clinic in Bilbao
- Barcelona IVF
- Clinica Tambre in Madrid
- Reproclinic in Barcelona
- Institut Marquès in Barcelona
- Equipo Juana Crespo in Valencia
- URE Centro Gutenberg in Malaga
- UR Vistahermosa in Alicante
- IVF-Life in Alicante
- Eugin Clinic in Barcelona.