The world has been seeing an unprecedented surge in the growth of assisted reproductive technologies in recent years. This phenomenon is explained by gradual shifts in lifestyle and behaviors that explain the boom infertility treatments.
What used to be a clandestine affair, has now become commonplace and a part of the mainstream conversation. The widespread occurrence of infertility and low reproductivity rates are frequently linked to delays in child-bearing motivated by a range of factors such as career preferences, government policy, or personal reasons.
A woman is born with a finite number of oocytes and with every passing year the quality and quantity of those diminish. However, having a child is an extremely personal decision requiring immense commitment and mental preparedness, and one cannot be pushed into it just because they don't want to run out of time. This among many other reasons is behind the countless innovations happening in the ART field today. Scientists and fertility experts are developing ways to preserve a woman's fertility so that childbearing does not get dictated by age and declining egg quality alone.
Cryopreservation, or egg freezing, is now being widely used in cases where people postpone having kids at a later stage in life either due to career/study choices or because of certain medical treatments that adversely impact fertility such as chemotherapy. It helps in storing and freezing mature eggs so that when the time is right a couple or individual can utilize them for an IVF procedure without worrying about poor egg quality/quantity.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT), Embryoscopy, Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), Microscopic Testicular Sperm Extraction (micro-TESE), Autologous endometrial coculture (AECC) and myriad other groundbreaking techniques in the past couple of decades have revolutionized the field of fetal medicine.
Owing to these discoveries and process improvements, today over one-third of Americans report to have either undergone fertility treatment themselves or know of someone in their circle who has. That's a resoundingly huge statistic. Fertility treatment that was once considered a luxury, and occasionally a "woman's problem", has now become a norm in medicine.
According to the CDC’s 2017 Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, 1.7% of all infants born in the United States every year are conceived using ART. Although it is still rare relative to the surge in demand, the use of ART has doubled over the past decade alone.
Along with all these new diagnostic techniques, gestational surrogacy has also seen extraordinary growth in recent years. Traditional surrogacy where a surrogate would be inseminated by the male intended parent's sperm and offer to carry the child for the couple has been around for centuries, however, with traditional surrogacy the pregnant woman would be the biological mother of the child given it's her egg that gets fertilized in the process. In gestational surrogacy, the woman carrying the unborn child has no biological relationship to the child (unless she is the egg donor as well). Gestational surrogacy is used in instances of either male or female infertility, thereby utilizing a donor sperm or donor egg respectively. With ever-increasing infertility rates, people are becoming more welcoming to the idea of seeking the services of a gestational carrier in order to have a biological child.
According to Global Market Insights, the global market value for surrogacy exceeded $5.5 BN in 2018 and is now projected to surpass $27.5 BN in 2025, a massive CAGR of 24.5%. The increase in demand and adoption of different ART methods is not only indicative of a fertility problem alone but also an overall rise in awareness about fertility solutions and treatments, aided by advancements in the field of fetal medicine.