A survey of women who chose to freeze their eggs has shown that around half experienced some regret, despite most saying they were happy with their decision.
The popularity of elective oocyte cryopreservation (EOC) – freezing eggs for non-medical reasons – has increased dramatically over the past decade. However, egg freezing does not guarantee future children and the procedure itself can be both physically and emotionally challenging and have significant financial implications.
'As oocyte cryopreservation takes off, we wanted to take a step back to understand how this technology might impact the trajectory of women's lives,' stated co-author Dr Heather Huddleston at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, surveyed 201 women who had undergone EOC for non-medical reasons between 2012 and 2016.
Over 80 percent of the study participants felt that they had gained more control and possessed more options in terms of achieving their reproductive goals following egg freezing, and 89 percent were happy with their decision to undergo EOC even if they never used their frozen eggs.
However, the researchers also found that 33 percent of the participants exhibited some form of mild decision regret, and a further 16 percent of women exhibited moderate to severe decision regret.
The likelihood of experiencing regret post-EOC was influenced by four main factors: the number of eggs that the participant was able to store, the probability of achieving a pregnancy from the stored eggs (as estimated by the participant), the degree of emotional support the participant experienced during the procedure, and the adequacy of the information that the participants received when deciding whether to proceed with EOC.
The study also highlighted areas for potential long-term disappointment. Six percent of the women in the study believed that their probability of achieving a live birth with their frozen eggs was 100 percent. Unrealistic expectations could potentially result in 'compromised outcomes and create regret,' said co-author Dr Eleni Greenwood, also at UCSF.
'The concern exists that EOC might impact subsequent reproductive choices and behaviours.'