Assisted Reproduction in Spain – Everything You Should Know

By (gynecologist), (embryologist) and (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 07/24/2018

In the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in particular, science is permanently evolving, even more rapidly that the regulations that govern the set of procedures used. In this sense, it is important that laws are rapidly updated so that all infertility treatments are properly regulated and available for anybody who needs one.

Luckily in the case of Spain, the law is one of the most advanced ones across Europe, where all potential scenarios are considered and the activity of fertility specialists is regulated accurately. We are talking about the Law 14/2006, of 26 May, on Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques (LAHRT).

This excellent legal framework and conditions allows Spain to be one of the most well developed countries when it comes to performing fertility treatments, hence that it is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international patients seeking IVF or egg donation abroad.

Provided below is an index with the 9 points we are going to expand on in this article.

The role of the CNRHA

The National Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CNRHA) is a a collegiate body of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. It has an advisory, permanent nature, and its main function is to provide advice on the use of human assisted reproduction techniques.

In certain particular cases, a report from the CNRHA is necessary prior to starting a treatment:

  • To authorize experimental procedures
  • To authorize certain cases not envisaged by the Law that require the use of PGD and/or a histocompatibility antigen blood test
  • To authorize research projects
  • To determine the financial compensation for egg donors

The CNRHA is also in charge of updating and sharing scientific and technical knowledge in the field of assisted reproduction, as well as establishing the criteria to be followed by fertility clinics.

Assisted Reproduction Law

As mentioned above, the Law 14/2006 is one of the most comprehensive and lax laws on ART. Not only it is very well written, but also leaves no room for potential legal vacuums or misunderstandings when using a particular technique.

Broadly speaking, the law establishes that reproductive technologies can be used in cases where there is a minimum chance of success, or when they do not pose any risk for the health of patients and their offspring. Also, patients should agree to their application freely and consciously by signing an informed consent beforehand.

What follows are the key aspects to be borne in mind as regards the Law 14/2006:

Users of reproductive technologies

Here are Dr Villalobos' words about users of ART:

Anyone may undergo assisted reproduction treatment, as long as they are over 18 years of age, in full capacity to act and communicate, regardless of their marital status and sexual orientation.

In case she is married, consent from her husband is required as well. In any case, the law establishes that any woman can benefit from a fertility treatment, irrespective of her marital status or sexual orientation.

The law, however, does not set a explicit limit on the age limit to undergo fertility treatment, but fertility clinics have reached an agreement whereby the maximum age for potential patients is 50 years old.

Authorized techniques

Also, the law includes an Annex where we can see a list of all fertility treatments that are considered legal, including:

The use of any of these techniques requires authorization by the appropriate health authority after having obtained a favorable report from the CNRHA.

In the case of IVF procedures, the law establishes a maximum of 3 embryos can be transferred per cycle due to the number of risks associated with multiple pregnancies for the woman and the babies.

Cycle cancelation

Article 3 specifies the following:

The recipient of these techniques can request the suspension of any treatment through the course of its application anytime prior to the embryo transfer, and such request must be handled.

If this was the case, the embryos that were already created can be cryopreserved for future cycles using the vitrification technique, be donated to other couples that wish to adopt an embryo, or be donated for stem cell research, always with the prior written consent of the patient.

For an embryo to be used for investigation purposes, the donation must be done before 14 days from its creation.

Regulations on PGD

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is allowed in Spain, but only for medical purposes. Keeping this in mind, there are two possible scenarios where it could be used:

  • To detect severe, early-onset, hereditary diseases that could not be treated following birth of the child given current scientific knowledge available
  • To detect other abnormalities that could compromise embryo viability and lead to implantation failure

After notifying the appropriate Health Authority about the use of PGD, they will inform the CNRHA about it.

The use of PGD with gender selection for family balancing is forbidden in Spain.

If PGD was necessary for purposes other than the ones mentioned above, or when someone attempts to perform it in combination with the HLA test for medical purposes (PGD-HLA), express authorization will be required. The appropriate Health Authority will review each particular case only if the CNRHA issues a favorable report beforehand.

PGD-HLA is a very useful tool to select healthy embryos that are compatible with the HLA genes of your first child so that a second child could cure his brother or sister with a transplantation.

This process is commonly known as savior baby or savior sibling, which has been a highly controversial issue for years from the ethical and moral viewpoints.

Get more info by clicking the following link: What Is a Savior Sibling? - Pros & Cons.

Third-party reproduction in Spain

Under Spanish Law on medically assisted reproduction, egg donation, sperm donation and embryo adoption are legal techniques. In all cases where donor gametes or embryos are required, the process will be regulated by a free, public and confidential agreement between the parties.

Requirements for donors

Men and women who want to become gamete donors must meet the following legal requirements:

  • To be over 18 years of age
  • To be physically and mentally healthy, with full capacity to act
  • To be free from genetic, hereditary or infectious diseases that could be transmitted to offspring
  • To agree with the anonymity and altruism required for all potential donors, as specified in the informed consent they must sign

Although the age limit for egg donors is not specified in the Law, most fertility clinics accept candidates up to age 35 in the case of women, and up to age 40-50 in the case of men.

According to Law 14/2006, a maximum of 6 children per donor can be born, including own and donor-conceived children.

IVF with donor eggs is probably the most confusing of all fertility treatments, and oftentimes, a misleading one. Transparency is one of our strict selection criteria when it comes to recommending fertility clinics to our readers. You can create your Fertility Report now to filter clinics based on our selection criteria and get an individual report based on your preferences with answers to your queries and most importantly, to prevent potential frauds.

Compensation to donors

In Spain, egg and sperm donation are based on altruism. This means that egg and sperm donors do not receive a salary for donating their reproductive cells, but just a financial compensation for the potential inconveniences and expenses incurred during the process.

According to the CNRHA guidelines, this financial compensation must be €800-€1,000 in the case of egg donors, and range between €30 and €50 in the case of sperm donors.

Check out this for information: Egg Donation in Spain – Legal Aspects, Requirements & Cost.

Today, the number of Spanish citizens who needs to use a surrogate for having a baby is increasing. However, couples have no alternative but to seek surrogacy abroad in order to fulfill their dream, as surrogacy is illegal in Spain.

Article 10 of the Law 14/2006 specifies the following:

Any contract that is intended to serve as an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy, for money or not, in exchange for waiving her maternity rights following birth in favor of a contracting party or third parties will be considered null and void.

In Spain, maternity rights are determined by childbirth, that is, the woman that gives birth to a child is considered the rightful mother.

To learn more about surrogacy and everything involved, we recommend that you visit the following article: What Is Surrogacy? – Definition & Types.

Fertility tourism in Spain

The set of regulations that govern the use of reproductive technologies in Spain, along with the number of fertility experts and their expertise in this field have turned Spain into one of the most popular destination countries for international patients who seek a treatment overseas. The so-called phenomenon of fertility or reproductive tourism.

Most couples who decide to pursue treatment abroad choose Spain as their destination country. Statistics have shown that, out of all the cycles performed in Spain annually, 15,000 are undergone by non-residents.

One of the most sought-after fertility treatment by foreign patients is egg and/or sperm donation. This is because the Spanish law is very well defined when it comes to regulating donor conception in the country.

For instance, anonymity is the reason why a great number of egg and sperm donors are willing to donate their eggs and sperm to other people. Thanks to it, waiting lists to receive donor eggs or sperm are almost non-existent, as they choose private clinics.

PGD, as long as done for reproductive purposes only, is another reason why fertility tourists visit Spain to undergo treatment. In countries such as Italy or Germany, couples cannot use this method to select healthy embryos, as the law in these countries bans this treatment.

Under Spanish Law, reciprocal or lesbian IVF is permitted as well, which allows gay female couples to start a family. Reciprocal IVF allows both women to participate actively in the pregnancy: one donates the egg cell, and the other carries the child until birth.

Considering undergoing a fertility treatment? By getting your individual Fertility Report your will see different clinics especially selected for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.

FAQs from users

Why has sperm quality experienced such a dramatical decrease amongst males in the past few years?

By Emilio Gómez Sánchez B.Sc., Ph.D. (senior embryologist).

A number of scientific studies suggest that sperm quality has decreased substantially in the past 50-80 years. For instance, a recent study indicates that, on average, the sperm count per ml is 52%, and the total amount of ejaculate is 59%.

These studies suggest that the decreased is more noticeable in industrialized countries.

Although the causes of this phenomenon are varied, it seems that the main reason can be found in the environment, and are endocrine disruptors. I am talking about chemical substances that simulate the effect of hormones by sending confusing signals to the organism, causing different dysfunctions, including a reduction in the sperm production process.

Endocrine disruptors are commonly found in consumer products, such as plastic, personal hygiene products, cleaning products, air fresheners... Also, many are present in foods.

Some examples of endocrine disruptors are dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which was prohibited long time ago, bisphenol A, phthalate, styrene, certain solvents, resorcinol, etc.

How much do fertility treatments cost in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Prices vary greatly from treatment to treatment, and even from clinic to clinic. In general, the cost of IUI can range from €500-€1,000, whilst IVF cycles are usually €3,000-€5,000. These estimated costs increase if donor sperm, donor eggs, or both are needed. Moreover, medications are rarely included in the initial cost.

Can I become a single mother in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Absolutely yes. According to Law 14/2006, everyone can have fertility treatment in Spain, regardless of their marital status. In this case, using donor sperm is required.

What are the success rates of egg donation in Spain?

By Andrea Rodrigo B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The Spanish Fertility Society (SEF) is the scientific body that audits the results submitted by clinics. It is estimated that around 60% of IVF clinics in Spain submit their results to the SEF.

According to the results published by the SEF back in 2014, the success rates using fresh donor eggs reach 55.9% per cycle, whilst the birth rate is 36.4% on average. With frozen eggs, these rates are 39.7% and 24.7%, respectively.

How can I become a sperm donor in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

To become a sperm donor, potential candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Being 18 or older
  • Being physically and mentally healthy
  • Having an optimal sperm quality
  • Being free from infectious diseases that could be transmitted to offspring
  • Not being a carrier of hereditary genetic diseases
  • Not having more than 6 children

As explained above, sperm donation is an altruistic process in Spain, and donors must be anonymous. Nevertheless, donors get a financial compensation for the potential inconveniences that may occur during the process.

Can you revoke a third-party reproduction agreement in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

A donor can claim for the gametes that he or she donated, as long as they are available at that moment. In such cases, donors must reimburse all the expenses associated with the donation process to the fertility clinic.

Can donor-conceived children discover the identity of their donor in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, donor-conceived people or their legal representatives can obtain general information about their donor if needed. The identity of the donor can be disclosed only in case the life or health of that person is in serious danger or when appropriate according to the law.

Suggested for you

If you are interested in traveling to Spain to receive donor eggs in your IVF treatment, you can get more info by clicking here: Egg Donation in Spain – Legal Aspects, Requirements & Cost.

Also, you may also enjoy some further information reading this: How Are Egg Donors Chosen in Spain?

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Authors and contributors

 Víctor Villalobos Paz
Víctor Villalobos Paz
M.D., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Zulia University of Venezuela, with specialty in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Master's Degree in Human Reproduction from the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) and the King Juan Carlos University of Madrid. Head of Obstetrics & Gynecology Service at Hospital Quirónsalud of Murcia. Coordinator o Human Assisted Reproduction Service at clinic Dexeus Murcia-Torrevieja. More information about Víctor Villalobos Paz
License: 303007323
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
B.A., M.A.
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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