As society evolves, technology advances, and laws change, more people than ever are turning to infertility treatments as a means to start a family.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is blessed with the ability to quickly and easily conceive a child.
For some, health problems leading to male and female infertility factors contribute to a couple’s conception troubles. Many others put off the pursuit of parenthood until their late 30s and early 40s, where the chances of a successful pregnancy dwindle down to almost zero. On the other hand, singles and same-sex couples are also utilizing assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, along with surrogacy, to have the children they’ve always dreamed of.
Infertility treatments are more accessible (and successful) than ever before, which means it’s likely that this very specialized area of health care will experience major growth in the coming years.
For 2012 in particular, whether monumental or controversial, three very important infertility topics are sure to steal the spotlight:
Money-Saving IVF Test: The Daily Mail recently reported about a new infertility test that has the potential to save parents money and disappointment by dramatically increasing the chances of having a healthy baby through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Researchers at Oxford University say this new test is revolutionary because of its low price, increased level of safety and overall effectiveness.
The test works by analyzing ‘cloud’ cells (also known as cumulous cells) that provide nutrients to the egg. The cumulous cells, normally thrown out in a standard IVF procedure, would be tested for health and vitality, which could help infertility specialists to choose only the very best eggs for the IVF procedure, without harming a single one.
When compared to current egg and embryo tests, including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), analyzing cumulous cells will minimize risks, cut costs by at least 50 percent, and greatly increase the odds of achieving a successful pregnancy in the first IVF attempt.
Although the study was quite small, Oxford researchers hope to begin clinical trials in the summer. If the test works as well as scientists believe, it should be available worldwide at the start of next year.
Sperm Donation Hesitation: 2011 brought a lot of controversy to the infertility community, especially in regards to sperm donation. While this practice is a popular solution for single women, lesbian couples and those struggling with male infertility factors, there has been a backlash at sperm banks for allowing donors to father too many children.
Last year, one man in the United States discovered that he had 150 children and other stories around the world revealed similar cases, which sparked a lot of concern over laws and regulations related to donated sperm and how they affect potential offspring and their families.
MedIndia recently reported about a new law in Australia that allows sperm donor children to contact their biological fathers when they reach the age of 18. Because donors aren’t allowed to remain anonymous anymore, there has been a serious shortage of sperm donors Down Under.
Professor Michael Chapman, head of IVF Australia, told The Sunday Telegraph, “Last year we only had two or three donors on our books. Today around Australia there are about 50 donors, but the demand is still substantially higher than that.”
Today, IVF Australia has begun to import frozen sperm from the United States, but experts believe because of these new laws, men around the world are now becoming much more hesitant about donating sperm.
Chapman’s colleague, Professor Peter Illingsworth, added, “There is no doubt that when the law was first introduced, it affected the number of men willing to donate sperm. It is a big undertaking. Being a donor is very serious and the fact is, not many men are willing to do it.”
While it may seem simple, sperm donation is a complex issue for the donors and receiving families. This year, advocates will be working towards a more solid set of laws and regulations to protect all parties involved, as donor sperm is still extremely valuable for patients who need it to conceive.
Career-Driven Surrogacy: Over the past five years, gestational surrogacy has spiked in popularity all over the world. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology reported 260 surrogate births in 2006; this number raised to about 1,000 in 2009, and considering these figures only represent the United States, there’s no doubt surrogacy is a booming industry.
In the past, couples used surrogacy as a last resort, following multiple miscarriages and failed IVF attempts. Today, however, surrogacy is open to all types of families, including singles and same-sex couples. Countries like the United States, Cyprus, Ukraine, Mexico, Georgia, and India have capitalized on this growing demand for gestational surrogacy options, and now welcome thousands of internationally based clients each year.
The newest surrogacy trend for 2012 involves career women. Many with high-powered jobs are putting off pregnancy, and instead choosing to build their careers during their most fertile years.
One anonymous female CEO told The Grindstone, “People, not just women, in senior level roles, are living their lives at very high paces. They work more hours, lack sleep, travel a lot and struggle to keep a routine. You would find ways to manage this, but the added impact of pregnancy would change their lives. There are ways to slow down but for some women, and it’s not because they aren’t maternal, but I think it is that they don’t desire the whole pregnancy thing. I see it as slowing me down. It is not that they are choosing to put career first, but putting the focus first. And when you are presented with an option like surrogacy, it seems viable. It kind of makes sense.”
While some may find this new trend quite controversial, for today’s modern family, it’s not really about the pregnancy, but the end result that is most important. The route to parenthood is different for everyone, and gestational surrogacy is just one option.
The CEO added, ““Society has shifted and new roles and technology allow for women to have this choice. Does that make it wrong? Because you can, should you? Why not?”
From higher IVF success rates to sperm donor and surrogacy controversy, it looks like 2012 will be an eventful year for the infertility community. If you are trying to conceive, whether naturally or with the help of infertility treatments, WhereismyDoctor.com wishes you the very best of luck on your journey towards parenthood!
To learn more about infertility treatment options, contact an infertility specialist near you.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.