What best symbolises the Czech Republic? Tourist attractions, beautiful women or a pint of beer? For hundreds of women from all over Europe the symbol could also be a crying newborn. They come here to undergo infertility treatment and enjoy having a child of their own.
The growing interest in so called reproductive tourism has been the focus of a study, first of its kind, conducted by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. The study found out that women with fertility problems undergo at least 20,000 trips abroad in search of effective treatment. And the Czech Republic is among the countries most visited.
“The country boasts with very good results in the sphere; high-quality treatment is accessable and cheaper compared to other EU countries,” said Pavel Ventruba, head professor of the Centre of Assisted Reproduction within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Brno Masaryk university.
There are 26 centres dealing with assisted reproduction in the Czech Republic. And Brno especially has a good reputation – Brno gave birth to the very first child born as a result of in-vitro fertilisation in a former Eastern Block country in 1982. Foreign clientele very often seek private facilities which is clearly visible on the clinic’s websites. Only very few of them do not have at least two foreign language versions.
Women often face legal obstacles in home countries
“The number of foreign clients is definitely growing. A different approach to legislation in the Czech Republic and their home country is often the reason, apart from prices below the EU average, behind the growing numbers. Some clients cannot undergo a certain kind of treatment in their home country because such treatment is either not a common practice there or it is banned by law,” said Kateřina Veselá, director of the Brno-based Repromeda sanatorium.
Czech legislation, as opposed to many other countries, for example, allows for egg donation, which, for many women, is the only way to get pregnant.
The European Society’ survey found out among the most common reasons behind reproductive care tourism are legal obstacles, difficulties in accessing the treatment and women’s higher age than permitted by the law of the home country.
The study also found that Italians, Germans, Dutch, French and Britons are among the women most often seeking fertility treatment abroad. While French women usually turn to Belgium, where they make up majority of foreign patients, half of the polled British women said they went to the Czech Republic.