Consumer attitudes toward IVF have changed fundamentally over the past 10-15 years. Dr. Mary Wingfield, one of Ireland’s foremost fertility experts, notes: “There has been a huge change in the acceptance of IVF generally in the community. When I started in practice, people often didn’t want to tell their parents they were having IVF… [there is] certainly a lot more acceptance of it today.” This change in sentiment is borne out in IVF statistics. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of IVF treatment cycles globally increased by 9.1% CAGR, which is 3.5 times higher than the 2.7% annual growth rate between 2004 and 2009.
In more liberal markets such as the U.K. and Spain, the fastest growing consumer segments for IVF are single women and same-sex couples. According to the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the number of single women choosing IVF in 2015 grew by 22% compared with 2006. In 2012, women in same-sex relationships conducted 766 cycles of IVF, up by 36% as compared to 2011 1. However, regulations in more conservative jurisdictions, such as Germany, continue to make it difficult for LGBT couples or single parents to obtain IVF treatment. In Italy — where the Catholic Church is openly against fertility treatment and heavily influences the policy agenda — reproductive therapies are not widely available or used. This often forces individuals to travel outside of their own country for fertility care.
Stark differences in attitudes, regulations, and price have incentivized consumers to shop around globally for the best money value in fertility treatment. In the U.S., the cost for one cycle averages $15,000. A comparable procedure costs just $3,300 in India, $6,600 in Thailand and $7,800 in Mexico 2. Not surprisingly, medical tourism has grown exponentially in this segment of healthcare. In Europe, Spain has been a major beneficiary of overseas patients, accounting for over 40% of IVF procedures performed with donor eggs on the continent.
Markets and Markets Report: Infertility Treatment Market: Global Forecasts to 2022, p. 46 ↩