The Rising Industry of IVF Under China’s Growing Demand

Couple in China with IVF baby

The decision to build a family is an exciting and delicate time in a couple’s life, and if fertility issues arise it can be incredibly difficult to move forward and figure out the next steps in the family planning process. Thankfully, there are options that couples can take advantage of to help with successful conception. IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization, is one of the go to methods for a couple who is having fertility issues when looking to conceive a biological child. It is a specific procedure that specialized clinics can offer, and has proven to be extremely successful.

It’s a method on the rise, and for much of the population, the access to fertility clinics and IVF procedures is higher than ever. But for many others around the world being able to get an appointment for these treatments has proven difficult. For Chinese couples, the demand for fertility services far outweighs the availability of clinics. Long wait times, certain restrictions, and a sudden increase in patients has created an imbalance, and many potential Chinese parents are finding themselves having to search for alternative, international services to access the care they need. 

Chinese families are facing a new era, since the lift on China’s Family Planning policy three years ago, couples now have the freedom to expand their families and have more children. It is estimated that after the relaxation of this policy, around 90 million Chinese women became eligible to have a second child, according to China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, and in 2017 Chinese hospitals reported more second children born than first children. It’s an exciting time for prospective families, and there are many eager couples who are looking for the chance to build their life together and have children.  Unfortunately, for a multitude of these Chinese families, getting pregnant does not come as easily as they hoped it would. According to BJOC, a gynecology and OB focused journal based in London, their study on fertility in the Chinese childbearing population found around 25% of Chinese women age 20-49 seeking to have a child were infertile. Of the couples studied, around half of those who were infertile had not sought out any medical help, even though they still wished to expand their families. This is not due to a lack of quality in services, but instead a demand increase that clinics cannot keep up with.

 

Chinese government run reproductive health center.

 

 Out of the hundreds of  thousands of couples seeking these services, there are only around 460 licensed IVF clinics in China they can access, and while more are popping up, they are not coming in fast enough to meet this increase in demand. In addition to this, Chinese couples have to first prove they are infertile, a process which can take years of waiting and appointments before they can even discuss IVF treatment. Even so, people are determined to seek these treatments, and according to Lui Jiaen, head of a private hospital based in Beijing that specializes in IVF, the amount of clients he received seeking these services has risen by over 20% since the family-planning policy was relaxed.

 Doctors are scrambling to meet the demand, but what they are able to provide is far short of what is needed. According to health officials, in 2016 only 500,000 IVF procedures took place in China, not nearly enough to meet the demand of infertile couples seeking treatment. Not only does long wait times and overcrowding spur prospective parents to look to international resources to move forward with their medical needs, many parents are also looking to opt in to other medical services unavailable to them in mainland China. Paul McTaggart, CEO of the healthcare consultancy Medical Departures, points out that “the legality of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and gender selection are also why Chinese mothers don’t go through IVF domestically.” and evidence he provides suggests Chinese IVF programs have a slightly lower success rate (10% less than other countries). Many families are looking for this specialized care, and the only place they are finding it available is far from home. 

Fertility Centers like Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, who recently opened a new state-of-the-art infertility treatment clinic in Orange County, are not only experiencing an increase in demand in families looking to have children, but also in single younger to middle aged women who are working professionals looking to freeze their eggs for long term viability and family planning. Currently, even after the Family Planning Policy’s relaxation, birth rates in China are still falling. The country is facing a similar situation that many other developing and developed countries are confronted with today. As older generations age and make way for younger ones, countries are finding that these younger people aren’t settling down and having families as quickly as their parents did, women are getting married and having children later, a trend that is rising among many Asian and first world countries. This is not necessarily a negative, for the first time in history people have control over when and how we want to start their families, and unfortunately for many people that means not starting their family until they can afford it, because as of now, families have become unaffordable for young people. Costs of living, education, and childcare are often too high for young couples to maintain, and with more freedom in their careers, people are able to wait, establish themselves, and then start a family when they can afford to be stable.

The solution to any possible fertility issues that may arise, for many women, is to seek out egg freezing services. Chinese women in their early 30’s-40’s who are working professionals have been seeking this out procedure to ensure security for the futures of their families. It’s a desirable option, the frozen eggs are kept viable for long periods of time, and there have even been accounts of successful pregnancies through eggs that were frozen for over ten plus years. It does happen to be a higher-end procedure, with a price tag that can range anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, but for many women the cost is absolutely worth it to ensure a healthy, happy baby down the road. Unfortunately, this service is unavailable in China to unmarried women, so, like families who are seeking out alternatives to mainland China’s IVF services, many women are turning to legal international options to seek treatment and plan their futures. Singapore, Australia and Cambodia have seen an increase in a need for these procedures, but the US, especially California, has been shown to be a favorite destination for these patients.

The resulting rise in medical tourism is being felt by the medical industry, as more Chinese single women and couples head away from home to find the care they need. The demand is quickly increasing, and overseas clinics are responding, some are opening new locations, adding staff that are fluent in Mandarin, and clinic websites are now including marketing and resources written to cater specifically to these patients. And China is not the only country that will see a rise in this industry, other countries like Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea are all experiencing issues with fertility and birth rates in their populations. These countries are seeing similar trends of women choosing to settle down later, lower fertility rates, and an increase in IVF demand that clinics are struggling to keep up with. As people turn to international services, they are considering their options and looking which countries have the best options for them. 

The United States is an extremely popular destination, with high success rates and a broad range of care, many clinics on the West Coast are seeing an increased demand from international clients. In fact, Reproductive Health and Wellness Center offers innovative scientific infertility treatments like IVF, ICSI, IUI and egg freezing. However, they combine their innovative infertility treatments with whole body and wellness in mind. Such as Fertility Acupuncture, that is a traditional Chinese method to treat infertility. 

About Reproductive Health and Wellness Center

Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, a new state-of-the-art fertility clinic in Orange County, has a nutritionist with a special interest in fertility. RHWC’s team works with you to make a custom tailored fertility nutrition plan for both females and males. 

Fertility treatments include IVF, egg freezing, ovulation induction, ICSI and more. Fertility wellness solutions include a fertility nutritionist, acupuncture, yoga, therapy, group support and more.

Reproductive Health and Wellness Center is a unique fertility center and first of its kind in southern California that uses both state-of-the-art medical fertility treatment combined with whole body wellness. To book a free consultation call 949-516-0606 or email info@rhwc.email. 

 

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