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  • Writer's pictureOlivia

Egg Donation to Help Women Conceive With the “ART” of Assisted Reproductive Technology

Female infertility is the inability for women to conceive naturally and have a successful pregnancy. Heterosexual couples usually try for nearly 12 months to conceive, failing which they resort to other methods that can help them get pregnant. With rising infertility rates in today’s world, it has led to a surge in egg donations by fertile women. Approximately 10% of women go through infertility-related issues, with the risk of infertility increasing with age.

The rising incidences of infertility among women worldwide is also raising the demand for egg donation. Couples are making use of innovative and new medical technologies to conceive and give birth to healthy infants. This is projected to aid the growth of worldwide egg donation instances in the coming years.

The egg donation process involves mainly three stages including egg harvesting, fertilization and embryo transfer into the recipient’s uterus. The actual transfer of eggs is carried out through a needle attached to an ultrasound probe which is inserted into vaginal tissues. By maintaining the right suction level, the eggs are carefully aspirated from the ovaries.

In February 2021, Virtus Health collaborated with CooperSurgical for assisting in the improvement of digital programs for reproductive services. Such initiatives are projected to integrate innovative technologies for fertility treatments and helping couples conceive.

Aiding Women Through the ART of Reproductive Technology

Egg donation is a medical procedure where a fertile woman voluntarily donates an egg or oocyte in an attempt to help other infertile women conceive. This is part of assisted reproductive technology or “ART”. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6% of married women from the ages of 15 to 49 years are unable to conceive due to several reproductive problems.

The usage of donor eggs being a part of assisted reproductive technology has remained relevant since its first instance in 1983 when a woman experienced primary ovarian failure, following which she was unable to conceive. This raised the question of, “Who will help women with fertility-related issues to become mothers?”

The UCSF Ovum Donor Program is a process of helping infertile couples or women through donor eggs. It has been known to help more than 100 couples become parents each year. This number goes on increasing every year as the process has become more transparent and helpful over the years.

For instance, infertile women or couples may choose which donor they wish to proceed with from a donor pool or outside agency. This could be anyone from a relative to a friend or acquaintance. By providing donor profiles including genetic screening, blood testing, mental health screening, infectious disease results and physical findings, couples can choose which donor would be the best for completing their family.

Various other well-known assisted reproduction technologies include in-vitro fertilization, zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), pronuclear stage tubal transfer (PROST) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. PCOS has been observed to be one of the leading causes of female infertility in the United States. Nearly 2.1% women have conceived and gave birth to healthy infants with the help of ART procedures.

Rising Health Concerns & Reproductive Disorders Causing Problems While Conceiving

There are a large number of health concerns pertaining to reproductive disorders which are causing infertility. These could range from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems (overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid) or even premature ovarian failure. These could also be cervical mucus problems, fibroids, endometriosis and also pelvic inflammatory diseases may be responsible for causing infertility.

The World Health Organization has stated that nearly 15% of heterosexual couples nearing the reproductive age struggle with issues related to infertility and reduced fecundity. Apart from being environmental and lifestyle-related factors, these could be severe medical issues that could be present by birth.

Various infertilities can also go undiagnosed or untreated with lack of awareness about these disorders. These could also be multifactorial including both male and female infertility factors, hampering the road to a successful pregnancy. May it be an issue with the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovulation, there can be an issue with the reproductive system or a disparity between the egg and the quality of the egg.

Overuse of alcohol, illicit substances, drugs or even smoking can cause negative effects on fertility of a woman. Women may prevent infertility in some cases, however not all cases can be cured by maintaining a good diet, healthy weight and other healthy habits beneficial for overall growth and development of the body.

The Future of Assisted Reproductive Technology & Egg Donation

Newer technologies and advancements are bringing improved methods for storing and utilizing these eggs, even later in the future. The fresh and frozen segment of egg donations has accounted for the largest market share owing to the increasing number of advantages of assisted reproduction technology. The rising number of frozen egg cycles have grown as a result of technological advancements in the medical sector.

Fertility clinics, hospitals, healthcare centers and various other service providers are increasing the number of artificial pregnancies, aiding women to efficiently tackle infertility-related problems either by birth or by environmental concerns. North America is projected to dominate the egg donation market with increasing awareness of modern reproductive technologies and increasing spending power among the population. As of today, there are more than 27 million infertile couples in the United States.

In recent years, egg donation has gained traction owing to favorable governmental and private institutional initiatives to promote pregnancy among women with infertility-related issues. However, the high cost of these procedures and the lack of complete awareness of these procedures is substantially hindering market growth.

Moreover, the rising number of fertility clinics are creating lucrative opportunities for emerging markets which is expected to boost the market for egg donations. With improved medical technologies for issues pertaining to reproductive health, there is predicted to be high investment in the egg donation market in the future as healthcare professionals get access to utilizing next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to aid pregnancies.

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