In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is on the rise. How popular is this healthcare decision? MarketsandMarkets projects it will expand to more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, $756.7 million, by 2021. Even in 2016, the industry was already measuring nearly a half-billion at $468.3 million. Assuming that the forecast is accurate, that would mean the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) would be 10.1%. There are various reasons for this increase: dropping fertility rates, more instances of male infertility, and a rise in the average time that a woman first becomes a mother, etc.
As in vitro fertilization has become more prevalent, so have egg or embryo freezing – also called cryopreservation. Are you considering these procedures, but you aren’t quite sure on the details of what they are? If so, we can help. Let’s look at each one in isolation – what they are exactly, and what steps are involved with a healthcare clinic – and then explore why someone might choose one over the other. Before that, though, let’s ground ourselves by briefly discussing in vitro fertilization.
In vitro fertilization
In 1978, Louise Brown of England became the first baby to be conceived outside of a mother’s womb. In that role, she was the first IVF success story. When people think of IVF, it is often confused with artificial insemination — but that process means that conception is normal and the only difference is the placement of sperm into the uterus. IVF is different because the technique, the combination of the sperm and egg, occurs in a lab setting. Note that embryos are reintroduced, implanted into the uterus, once they have initially grown outside the body.
Egg freezing, technically called mature oocyte cryopreservation, is a way that women can retain their reproductive capability. In the process, a specialist harvests eggs from your ovaries. They are then frozen in the absence of fertilization and put into storage to be utilized at some point in the future.
Now let’s jump forward in time. You can thaw an egg that has been frozen in this manner, introduce it to sperm under laboratory conditions, and implant it into the uterus. In other words, IVF can be used at a later date to reintroduce the egg to your body.