Fenomatch in Action: an interview with Reproducción Bilbao

Fenomatch in Action: an interview with Reproducción Bilbao

The use of technologies such as Fenomatch in IVF donor treatments have revolutionized the IVF industry by helping professionals save time and improve efficiencies. This in turn has helped improve patient experience. The use of technology in health care can be overwhelming for some and its use needs to be explained and understood to create confidence.

IFC is pleased to partner with Fenomatch, specialists in the use of facial biometrics in fertility treatment. To understand how the product works in action we spoke to Reproducción Bilbao, an IVF clinic based in Bilbao, one of the best known cities in the Basque country and north of Spain.

Why did you decide at was the reason to start using Fenomatch?

One of the main concerns of our patients who need a donor to carry out their treatment is always around physical resemblance. When a donor is chosen, a physical similarity between her and her recipient is sought. Carrying out this search only by phenotype (ethnicity, hair colour, eyes) does not give the patient sufficient security and peace of mind regarding resemblance. We wanted to use a technology which inspired more confidence about our choice of donors.

Do you use Fenomatch with all patients who require donors?

At Reproducción Bilbao, we carry out an exhaustive study of donor candidates that involves everything from the simplest tests, physical and psychological examinations or genetic tests to study recessive mutations on a mandatory basis. The use of Fenomatch has become an integral part of our internal protocol to choose a suitable donor in a systematic way.

This allows us to find the right donor through phenotypic, genetic and biometric comparison.

If there is only one donor available for the patient, Do you still use facial matching to see if thereis a reasonable facial resemblance?

Yes, we use Fenomatch in all cases in which we need to assign a donor.

What do you like the most about Fenomatch?

It is a very easy-to-use tool and results are obtained immediately, so its use does not delay the choice of the donor.

What is the response from patients when you tell them about Fenomatch?

It is reassuring for our patients, because they attach great importance to the similarity between the donor and the recipient. They are overwhelmingly pleased that we offer an additional level of confidence to the donor selection process.

Do patients ask you to provide confirmation that Fenomatch technology has been used?

Patients have at their disposal the certificates confirming the use of Fenomatch which are automatically generated by the application and included in their medical records.

Do people know about Fenomatch when they arrive at the clinic? If not, is it hard for you to explain what it is?

There are still many patients who have not heard of this tool but are pleasantly surprised when we describe how we use it and the results we achieve each time.

Has the patient experience in your clinic improved since you have Fenomatch?

We believe that yes, that is what our patients tell us. It promotes confidence and addresses the natural anxieties that patients have about the use of anonymous donors.

Has the number of patients increased since you have Fenomatch available at the clinic?

Yes, it has definitely strengthened the service we offer to patients. It has proved to be very efficient and successful.

Have you had any funny anecdotes when using Fenomatch?

Sometimes we receive too many photos from the same recipient and it becomes too difficult to choose! All we ask from our patients is to choose a nature photo which displays their everyday appearance – you don’t have to dress up for Fenomatch!

Have you had any problems getting the photo of the patient or the donor?

We have not had any problems with either party. We explain to the donors why we need the photo and they understand it. In the case of the recipients, the predisposition is very good.

Do you always choose the donor with the highest Fenomatch matching score?

We always try to choose the most similar candidate and we take the score into account. Our priority however is the Genetic Compatibility Test that we carry out in all our treatments with donors.

We would recommend Fenomatch to all treatment centres who are required to choose donors on behalf of patients. It makes our job easier and inspires confidence amongst patients.

We thank the team at Reproducción Bilbao for participating in this interview.

Why Spain?

Why Spain?

It is a question we get asked daily. So why do so many people choose to get IVF in Spain?  

Well, lets start with the facts.

  • Spain is the most visited European country by those looking for IVF abroad
  • 40% of all the international fertility patients who travel within Europe opt for Spain
  • Spain performs the highest number of fertility procedures in Europe, some 120,000 per year
  • Just under 50% of these procedures involve egg donation
  • There are around 300 registered fertility clinics in Spain – popular locations include Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga
  • Spain offers a diverse range of treatments for single women, gay (women) couples, and heterosexual couples
  • Spanish fertility success rates are amongst the highest in the world
  • Although no longer the cheapest in Europe, fertility treatment costs in Spain remain competitive
  • Since 2003 it is estimated that the number of international patients visiting Spain for IVF treatments has risen over 30 times


The cost of fertility treatments varies between clinics and will depend on the procedure you undergo, however costs tend, on average, to be anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 euros. Quoted fees are usually accurate but you will need to build in costs associated with preparatory tests and scans, medication, travel and accommodation. Some Spanish fertility clinics will offer in-house finance packages or refund and guarantee programmes which may involve higher, upfront payments.

Donor Treatments

IVF treatment with an egg donor is the most popular treatment undertaken by international patients in Spain. Spanish clinics purchase donor eggs and sperm from gamete banks but many clinics have their own banks therefore donor availability is generally very good compared to other countries. Donors are aged between 18 and 30, each will undergo a medical and psychological evaluation before being chosen. All donors are anonymous, and most clinics do not have overly long waiting lists, if at all.

Access to Treatments

Gay couples In Spain have the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of marriage and adoption. Although male couples can’t access IVF treatments women can, as a single patient or via the procedure known as ROPA (Reception of Oocytes from Partner) or shared motherhood. The procedure involves one of the partners undergoing a standard IVF protocol to obtain mature eggs. Using sperm from a donor the retrieved ages will be fertilised and then transferred to the other partner. This procedure is one of the few instances where it is legally acceptable for the recipient to know the identity of her egg donor.

Regulation and Agreed Practices

Fertility regulation covers certain activities such as the transportation of eggs, sperm and embryos as well as fertility preservation techniques and commercial surrogacy. The latter is prohibited under Spanish law. Additional practices are not expressly covered by statute but have been collectively agreed by providers. Such examples include generally only treating women under the age of 50 or those with a BMI of under 35. In comparison to many countries Spanish fertility legislation is generally considered very liberal and as such, is another reason for the higher numbers of inbound fertility patients.

In terms of clinic regulation, Spain offers a comprehensive system which promotes a high level of confidence in treatment providers. The National Health Ministry Registry was established in 2001 and is now managed by the Spanish Fertility Society (S.E.F.). It shows information on treatments undertaken, success rates and how individual clinics operate. All new clinics in Spain have to obtain a licence to operate.  

Patient Centred care

Patient Centred Care is often cited as one of the unique selling points of the Spanish fertility market. Traditionally, providers often treated international patients who travelled to Spain as a last option. Patients had often run out of options in their host country and those that did arrive for treatment often presented with very challenging health issues. As a consequence, Spanish clinics have developed excellent protocols based on four decades of helping patients with complex issues.

Spanish fertility clinics have also worked hard to welcome patients. Those clinics that treat international patients have created multilingual teams to provide dedicated information and support. International patients often receive a personalised service, available 24/7 together with additional support around the logistics of travel and accommodation.

Spanish fertility clinics offer a patient centred care approach which is envied and duplicated far and wide.     

This is why

It is easy to see why Spain is the leading European destination for those seeking to travel for fertility treatment. Spain offers an excellent transport network and the cities and regions where the majority of providers are based are easily accessible from all over the world.

With its rich history, excellent climate and cosmopolitan regions it is not surprising that Spain claims to be the second most visited tourist destination in the globe. This popularity extends to so-called fertility tourism and the International Fertility Company is proud to partner with some of the best examples of fertility clinics in Spain.

Contact andrew@internationalfertilitycompany.com if you would like more information about clinic options in Spain.