Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (2024)

Khendra Riley was 39. She had just broken up with her fiance. Her ovaries, doctors said, may not be releasing eggs regularly.

She’d wanted a baby since she turned 30. It seemed impossible.

In vitro fertilization seemed the only option left, but the St. Petersburg flight attendant’s health insurance didn’t cover it. The near $30,000 quotes she got from two Tampa Bay clinics were out of reach.

She was scrolling through Facebook soon after and saw that a friend had given birth through IVF. The post mentioned the Barbados Fertility Centre.

In February 2023, Riley gave birth to Karsyn. Her healthy 7½-pound daughter was conceived with donated sperm and implanted in her womb on the Caribbean island. Making her dream baby cost about $20,000.

“I’m literally awestruck every day,” she said. “I can’t believe I actually have the baby that I wanted for so long.”

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (1)

The global fertility tourism market — sometimes dubbed the “procreation vacation” — was valued at $417 million in 2021. It’s expected to be worth $6.2 billion by 2030, according to an analysis by Grand View Research, a market research firm that produces reports on more than 800 industries. That growth is fueled by the rising costs of IVF treatment, more women delaying having a family and the limited financial help available in the United States for women struggling to conceive.

Among married women of child-bearing age with no prior births, about 1 in 5 are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet many insurance companies don’t consider fertility treatments as medically necessary.

Twenty-one states have laws requiring that insurers cover some fertility treatment but only 15 of those include IVF, according to the National Infertility Association. Florida is not among the states mandating that insurers cover fertility treatment.

Studies show that women with a bachelor’s degree or more education are more likely than women who never attended or completed college to undergo fertility treatment. Association CEO and president Barbara Collura said governments and companies need to take more steps to make IVF available to low- and middle-income families.

“Too many will face financial barriers when it comes to accessing medical care they need to build a family,” Collura said in an email. “Access to family building options shouldn’t depend on someone’s zip code.”

Thailand and Turkey are among the most popular destinations for U.S. women seeking treatments abroad, but the proximity of Mexico is now drawing more U.S. clients too, said Josef Woodman, CEO and founder of Patients Beyond Borders, a medical tourism consulting group that advises providers and governments.

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (2)

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Cancun and Tijuana are the most popular destinations in Mexico, according to Medical Departures, a medical tourism website. A single cycle for IVF in the country costs about $4,500 with another $3,500 for medication.

Woodman expects travel abroad for IVF to continue to grow but added that the treatment requires an average of 2½ cycles to become pregnant.

“That’s a lot of travel, a lot of appointments, a lot of emotion,” Woodman said. “You might save money but is it really worth it?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that traveling abroad for medical treatment can be risky and that standards for licensure, credentialing and accreditation may be lower than in the United States.

Women traveling from the United States make up more than 90% of the 1,100 patients treated each year at the Barbados Fertility Centre, said medical director Juliet Skinner.

Prospective mothers typically begin a medication course before their visit. During their stay, eggs are extracted, fertilized and transferred to the uterus.

The clinic is on the southern side of Barbados, just 50 feet from the Caribbean Sea. Skinner believes its success is in part because patients turn their trip into a vacation and are removed from the normal stresses of daily life.

“They’re not running around trying to find a parking space in New York,” she said. “Here, they’re wondering should they lie on the beach or by the pool.”

But Skinner has no illusions that it’s the low cost of treatment that attracts patients.

A single cycle of IVF in the United States can cost between $15,000 and $30,000, according to Forbes. Even with the cost of flights and accommodation, the Barbados clinic can cost as much as 40% less, Skinner said.

The incubator equipment and lab facilities her clinic uses are no different or cheaper than those in the U.S. The facility is accredited by Joint Commission International every three years. But the clinic does not spend as much on buildings or malpractice insurance and takes a smaller profit margin, Skinner said.

“The infrastructure costs of American health care are very high,” she said.

Lakeland couple Moya and Lawrence Pugh had been trying for a baby for a year when they approached a Tampa clinic. Moya was 41 and knew time was running out.

The couple were quoted almost $21,000 for one round of treatment and told that the medication could add another $6,000. Her insurance with Florida Blue did not cover the treatment.

“While we cannot comment on a specific member’s situation due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy concerns, we can confirm that coverage of infertility treatment depends on the individual health plan and benefits,” the company said in an emailed statement.

A friend who works in the medical field told Moya about traveling abroad and she was quoted just over $8,000 for the same treatment in Barbados. Although a little reluctant to get medical treatment outside of the United States, the couple did their own research on the clinic before signing up.

Toward the end of a two-week trip in September 2022, three fertilized embryos were implanted in Moya’s uterus. She returned home and waited two nerve-racking weeks before taking a pregnancy test.

She couldn’t help but “cheat” and took a home test a day early. It was negative, as was the one she took at her gynecologist’s office the following day.

“It’s a very emotional road,” she said. “Knowing that I went through all of that and the injections are very painful — you put your body through physical pain and stress.”

The couple decided to have one more try, this time turning the May 2023 trip into a vacation. Moya “cheated” again on her pregnancy test two weeks later. This time, the strip said “pregnant.”

She gave birth to Harriet in January.

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (3)

Even with the cost of implanting another embryo and a second trip, the Pughs estimate they saved several thousand dollars by going outside the United States.

“No words can capture that moment of hearing her cry,” Moya said of Harriet’s birth. “The journey didn’t matter, the painful shots didn’t matter — it was just a moment of perfect bliss.”

But there is no guarantee with IVF.

Linda Hoang, a marketing professional and blogger from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, had been trying for eight years to get pregnant with her partner, Mike. Doctors listed her case as unexplained infertility, the term for women under 35 with no obvious health issues who are unable to get pregnant after a year of trying.

Hoang and her partner went to Barbados in December 2021 for treatment. Before traveling, she had difficulty getting local pharmacies to fill the prescriptions from the fertility clinic. She had two embryos implanted but neither took.

“We found out we weren’t pregnant on Christmas Eve,” she said. “It was a really bad holiday, many days of crying and not much celebration.”

Two months later, Hoang blogged that she had come to terms with never having a child but the couple still had a fertilized embryo in cold storage in Barbados and decided to book another IVF treatment.

A few months before their trip, Hoang discovered she had conceived naturally. In March 2023, Benjimin Brown was born. Hoang calls him her miracle baby. She believes the failed IVF treatment may have helped.

“It was like, ‘Hey, body, this is how you do it,’” she said.

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (4)

IVF wasn’t straightforward for Riley, the St. Petersburg flight attendant. Her first cycle resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, which had to be terminated.

But being a mother was worth all the pain and heartache, she said. Her employer, Delta, gave her almost a full year of maternity leave, allowing the single mother time to bond with her daughter. Her mom and dad live nearby and help when she has to travel.

“I just didn’t even know I could love so big and so freely and just so selflessly,” she said.

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (5)

Riley was so determined to have a baby that she considered moving to Minnesota, one of the states where health insurers are required to cover IVF.

Ironically for her, her company’s health insurance changed after Karsyn was born and now covers IVF.

Now that she’s a mom, she’d like to help other couples and is considering starting a nonprofit group.

“There are a bunch of people who would be great parents who will probably never have the opportunity because they cannot afford fertility treatments,” she said.

Procreation vacation: Why the global IVF market is booming (2024)


What is the global market for IVF? ›

In Vitro Fertilization Market Insights

Global In Vitro Fertilization Market size was valued at USD 23.75 Billion in 2022 and is poised to grow from USD 25.10 Billion in 2023 to USD 39.11 Billion by 2031, at a CAGR of 5.7% during the forecast period (2024-2031).

What is the market trend for IVF? ›

Market Overview

The global in vitro fertilization (IVF) market is experiencing significant growth, with an estimated valuation of USD 25.23 billion in 2023, and projections suggest a climb to USD 52.68 billion by the year 2034. This ascent represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.92% from 2024 to 2034.

Why is IVF becoming more common? ›

A significant factor in IVF popularity is that women and couples are deciding to wait to have children. Many couples are choosing to become more financially sound before deciding to have a child. Additionally, more women are choosing to pursue higher education and career goals before having children.

Why is the fertility market poised to explode? ›

But in the next few decades, we expect to see more democratization driven by a few key areas: health delivery advancements, new methods for testing and treatment, robotics and automation, artificial Intelligence, and novel biotechnology. All of that could burst the market …

Why is IVF good for the economy? ›

Results: An IVF-conceived child, average in every respect (eg, future earnings, healthcare consumption, and life expectancy), represents a net positive return to the government. Based on an average employed individual born in 2005, the projected net lifetime tax contribution is US $606,200.

How big is the global fertility market? ›

What is the market size of global fertility services market? As per The Brainy Insights, the size of the global fertility services market was valued at USD 22 billion in 2022 to USD 68.32 billion by 2032.

What are the drivers of the IVF market? ›

The IVF market growth is driven by an increasing infertility rates, advancements in IVF techniques, continuous improvements in IVF success rates, and increasing demand for preimplantation genetic testing.

Where is IVF most popular? ›

Despite previous attempts to limit access to treatment, Denmark now has the biggest proportion of babies born through assisted reproductive technology (ART) in the world. Visit any park in Denmark and the chances are many of the children playing there were born using IVF or donor sperm.

When did IVF gain popularity? ›

Even though doctors proved that IVF could be done safely and successfully, it would take a little time before IVF became widely accessible. That is what happened during the 1980s, as more and more people started turning to IVF and other procedures to get pregnant and start families.

What impact does IVF have on society? ›

IVF has helped to lessen the impacts of infertility and has enabled many people to conceive, carry and/or deliver children of their own who would have otherwise been unable to.

How has IVF impacted the world? ›

The technique has changed traditional notions of family structure, too. Egg donation and surrogacy, the freezing of embryos, and techniques such as mitochondrial transfer and genome editing alter long-held views about biological relations, kinship and the constraints of time, space, gender and genetics on procreation.

What is the biggest risk of IVF? ›

The Risk to a Baby
  • Presence of birth defects (extremely rare)
  • Sexual birth defect or infertility in male children (When ICSI is used in certain cases of male infertility)
  • Low birth weight (with multiple babies)
  • Fetal demise (with multiple babies)
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IGR) (with multiple babies)

Why is infertility so high right now? ›

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has linked lifestyle factors such as obesity, strenuous physical labor, excessive exercise, substance use, heavy drinking, high blood pressure and others to increasing rates of infertility.

Why is infertility increasing in the world? ›

The infertility rate is higher in developing countries due to sexually transmitted infections and a lack of adequate and modern medical facilities [10,11]. Sexually transmitted diseases are a major cause of infertility. An increase in the number of sexual partners would lead to higher infertility [23].

Is the fertility business booming? ›

The Proactive Fertility Boom: A Growing Industry

As global trends indicate a significant delay in childbearing, the proactive fertility business is booming. The worldwide fertility-testing industry is projected to reach $680 million by 2025, with egg freezing emerging as the fastest-growing fertility treatment.

How big is the IVF market in the US? ›

In Vitro Fertilization Market Size Worth USD 51.73 Billion in 2032 | Emergen Research
Report DetailsOutcome
Market size in 2020USD 18.08 Billion
CAGR (2023–2032)9.1%
Revenue forecast to 2032USD 51.73 Billion
Base year for estimation2022
9 more rows
Dec 18, 2023

Which country is most popular for IVF? ›

Most popular IVF destinations:
  • Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, North Cyprus, Portugal, Latvia, Denmark, Poland, Mexico, and Barbados are the top countries for IVF treatment.
  • Each country's summary includes information on IVF law, treatment availability, age and marital status requirements, average IVF success rates.
Nov 16, 2023

What country uses IVF the most? ›

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

But a much lower natural birth rate and higher IVF success rate means that Denmark wins on the proportion of babies in the population born thanks to reproductive technology.

How big is the IVF business? ›

The U.S. fertility market size accounted for USD 5.34 billion in 2023 and is expanding to around USD 8.69 billion by 2033 with a registered CAGR of 4.78% from 2024 to 2033. By offering, the assisted reproductive technology segment dominated the market in 2023.


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