After more than three decades of development, the assisted reproductive technology available in China is mature and meets global standards, officials and experts have said.
In March 1988, Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing saw the birth of the first baby via in vitro fertilization on the Chinese mainland. In 1983, the first baby in China delivered via the use of intrauterine insemination was born at Hunan Medical College in Changsha, Hunan province.
"China has closely followed the latest developments in assisted reproductive technology, and has reached international standards in the field," said Ma Xiaowei, deputy minister in charge of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, adding that couples in need of these services do not have to travel overseas.
With the rising number of infertile couples and the adoption of the universal second-child policy, an increasing number of couples are seeking fertility treatment both in China and overseas.
However, the nation's sperm banks have long suffered severe shortages as a result of a lack of donors and growing demand. In some cases couples have waited more than two years, according to media reports. Last year, an ad on the public WeChat account of a sperm bank in Hubei province offered free smartphones to young men who donated sperm.
According to experts, the infertility rate has risen to almost 15 percent among couples of optimum fertility, compared with 3 percent more than 20 years ago, because more couples are choosing to start families at a later age and the number of abortions has also risen.
Li Rong, deputy director of reproductive medicine at Peking University Third Hospital, said that in general, China's assisted reproductive technology is on a par with international levels, and the rate of success is high. In addition, China leads the world in certain technologies.
Fertility levels fall rapidly when women reach 40 years of age, and their chances of becoming pregnant are low, even with the assisted reproductive technology, she said.