Focus: Fertility clinics, Spanish expertise

Leading the Field

Nov. 30, 2021

Normally, some 10-20% of couples worldwide are unable to have children without medical assistance. In the old days, such couples would give up and think of themselves as infertile, but many therapies have been developed by medical sciences over the years that can help a seemingly infertile couple bring a new life to this world.

Infertility can be caused by simple factors such as low sperm count or sperm potency to more complicated genetic or acquired conditions in one or both parents. “In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the man,” while, in about another “one-third of cases, there is an issue with the woman,” and “in the remaining cases, there are issues with both the man and the woman, or no cause can be found,” according to Mayo Clinic, a leading American healthcare research center.

Fortunately, modern medicine has come up with appropriate cures for a wide variety of such cases. Many men and women diagnosed with reproductive conditions, end up seeking help from fertility clinics, and Spanish clinics are increasingly attracting couples who hope to become parents one day. Spanish clinicians are particularly adept at performing a procedure known as in vitro fertilization (IVF)—that is fertilizing a woman's egg cell with a man's sperm in a laboratory environment.

In many cases IVF can put an end to a couple's infertility issues. However, IVF is not the only assisted reproductive technology (ART) available. There is also “artificial insemination, which can be done using sperm from the patient's partner or donor sperm,” and “in the case of infertility or conception issues due to age, we use egg donation,” Rafael Fraile, CEO of Eugin Group Spain, told TBY.

Spain's leading status in fertility medicine is in no small part thanks to the presence of world-famous practitioners and scientists in the country. Dr Antonio Pellicer of IVIRMA is one such character. Obtaining a doctorate in medicine in 1980 from the university of Valencia, Dr Pellicer's remarkable medical career coincided with the birth and expansion of the field of reproductive medicine, to which he contributed enormously.

Dr Pellicer has dedicated his career to reproductive medicine by carrying out groundbreaking clinical research in Spain and abroad, while putting the results of his research into practice to help his patients in Spain and beyond. IVIRMA, a brainchild of Dr Pellicer, is today one of the leading fertility healthcare providers not only in Europe but also—through its branches abroad—in Latin American, Western Asia, and India.

Medical research still plays a critical role in keeping Spain-based clinics such as IVIRMA ahead of the curve. Antonio Pellicer, who acts as the CEO of IVIRMA, told TBY in an exclusive interview that “research has allowed us to stay ahead of our competitors. IVIRMA is seen as a leader group across the board in its sector, and our R&D has served the whole industry over the past decades.”

The Spanish fertility clinic teamed up with an American counterpart in 2017, the Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) in New Jersey, forming the IVIRMA clinic in its modern-day incarnation: IVIRMA Global. This move can pave the way for Spain-based fertility clinics to tap into the US market, which is potentially even more lucrative than the EU and UK markets combined.
People already travel to Spain to seek treatment for their infertility issues. “There are many patients from other countries who travel to Spain to undergo these treatments due to the quality of treatments and expertise here. There has been a great deal of innovation here by doctors from many specialties, who have invested heavily in this area,” says Marcos Bueso, CEO of GeneraLife, another industry player with ties to Spain. However, instead of having international patients, including in the Americans, fly to Spain or other countries where Spanish clinics such as IVIRMA or GeneraLife have a presence, American patients can be served by Spanish clinics in their home country in the near future. This will be a huge step forward toward branding Spain as a leading player in reproductive medicine market—which is completely fitting given the contribution that Spanish physicians and scientists have made to reproductive medicine since the early 1990s.

In addition to bright scientists, Spain owes its leading place in fertility medicine to its progressive laws. Two particular pieces of legislation passed in 1988 and 2006 removed the barriers ahead of embryonic studies and assisted reproductive technology (ART), which gave a head-start to Spanish researchers and clinicians.

Given the current situation, chances are that within a few decades from now, many people walking the earth will owe their lives to the reproductive medicine that thrived in Spain and was exported to countries across the globe by Spanish fertility clinics.